itslearning has transformed my teaching
This may be a bold statement, but it is true. In the current climate, having to move to remote learning due to COVID-19, I have been unable to teach my students in our normal fashion. That meant amending the way I do things.
Use of itslearning learning platform before lockdown
I teach Criminology & Psychology at Flint High School in Wales. When I started teaching there in January 2017, I received training in setting up courses and storing content on our learning platform: itslearning. I found it a useful place to create my A-level (university preparatory) courses and store all my lessons.
A consistent, organized approach for online teaching
During the lockdown I have used itslearning to fulfil my students’ educational needs. I’m lucky they know me well enough to realise all work is uploaded to the platform in folders that are easy to navigate. I’m an organised teacher who takes the time to ensure that the material is separated into units in each of the courses I teach. Students can access work on their phones or whatever device they need. I upload everything: handouts, PowerPoints and links to external material. What I like about itslearning is that it allows me to imbed links, for example, to online workbooks.
Using the learning platform for online assessment
My students are required to complete assessments for end-of-unit testing. Nothing new there you may think, however this is very different when not in the classroom. I’ve started using itslearning to create new assessments and upload questions and grading. This was something I hadn’t tried before, and I was quite surprised at the ease of it. I can even enable an automated plagiarism check! I’ve started using the time settings to ensure students can’t pause and ‘reflect’ with their books. I have also found out I can create a multiple-choice assessment. This is something I am going to try, as I know itslearning will keep track of the results for me. I think this will be particularly useful when I have a large cohort to teach next year.
Accessibility for students with additional learning needs
The screenshot below shows one of the assessments undertaken by a group, and ranked in order of who submitted first. It was all graded on-screen and gave me a chance to see how everyone was doing. I found it really useful and plan on using this type of assessment again, even when back in the classroom. I think it is useful for those who have additional learning needs as they can alter the screen to various colours, etc. This can’t be done as easily on paper if I decide to spring a test on them.
Discussion boards promote interaction
Students have been given discussion areas where they can chat about the work they have recently completed and ask questions (anonymously if they don’t feel brave enough to use their names). This hasn’t been fully utilised by them yet. I am part of a staff book club discussion board though – it is nice to be able to interact in this way when our current climate is so strained. Below is a screenshot of a discussion board for one of my groups.
Future plans and blended learning
As buildings remain closed, teaching is forced online. The itslearning learning platform helps me ensure that students aren’t at a disadvantage and can continue to learn.
From announcements via the Welsh Government it looks as though we will all be taking a blended-learning approach in future. I for one am grateful to have already used itslearning to prevent students from switching off or disengaging.
Not only has it helped me with work, but it has ensured I can keep in touch with my students in a safe environment. They can send me private messages if they don’t want to post in group discussions. A few students haven’t engaged at all during this time but I don’t think it is due to access (itslearning is easily accessible on phones through its app). It could be due to external struggles or bereavement – these students are the ones to focus on when the building is back up and running.
For now, I will continue with my love of itslearning and am happy to attend the useful online professional development courses.
I wouldn’t say I’m an expert – far from it – as I’m not really a lover of technology, but the ability to use itslearning easily and daily has been such a huge bonus to me. That is why I can confidently say, “itslearning has transformed my teaching.”
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