It is important that we help each other out as much as we can, and offer advice and support to those that need it. Working closely with schools, we understand the pressure that school staff are going through and hope to do all we can to assist during what is an unprecedented and worrying time.
We would like to take the time to acknowledge and praise all your efforts and ongoing commitment to your pupils in ensuring that they still receive a good education and the resources in which to aid this.
There have been some questions on how teachers can deliver their classrooms online in an efficient and realistic way. This also includes the infrastructure that schools may need to put into place to facilitate that work to be carried out effectively.
- Microsoft are offering Microsoft Teams for free, to education institutions through the Office 365 A1 offer. They want to help educators stay connected with their students throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. And as many schools and academies are transitioning to e-learning innovations and coming to terms with the possibility of introducing virtual classes to their pupils, Microsoft would like to offer educators with the tools to help this transition during these difficult and uncertain times. Microsoft Teams can provide teachers with the means to: • Add selected students, • Share lessons, • Create assignments, • Collaborate virtually in real-time, • Provide feedback. There is a lot more information that can be found on their website in helping teachers prepare for these new virtual learning environments through the Microsoft Teams platform.
- Your school may already be using the platform, Zoom. It has been highly known for the use of virtual conferences and online staff meetings. However, it could also be an ideal platform for teachers and students to use as a virtual classroom giving them the ability to participate in online classes. They offer further information and support on their website to help educators during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Skype is also another alternative platform that may be useful for your school. Its free plan offers up to 50 people to be involved in one single group chat, as well as allowing users to share files. Find out more about the features on their website.
- Unlike the above suggestions, Google Classroom does not facilitate video calls in its own right, however it’s highly rated as an easy-to-use tool that helps teachers manage pupils’ work. It offers features including uploading and distributing homework, grading and sending feedback and online classroom discussions via messages between teachers and pupils. Google Classroom also integrates with 1000’s of educator-approved apps (e.g. Classcraft, Pear Deck and Quizizz) that may add a bit of difference and creativity to tasks. Classroom is part of the G Suite for Education and free to get started for your class or school. Find out more, or sign up now, through their website. There are also COVID-19 resources available to read.
Considering online safety
It is important under these current circumstances that we ensure our children and young people are using the internet responsibly and safely.
- Naturally, they will be interacting more online for learning and socialising with friends. Ensure they have someone to speak to or provide them with e-safety or safeguarding links in case something negative does happen online.
- Encourage students to check the reliability and credibility of sources online. There is a lot of fake news out there as we all know, this could enhance any distress or anxiety they are already feeling.
- Provide advice on social media and live streaming.
- Include parents in the conversation about e-safety and offer guidance about parental controls and privacy settings.
We hope that some of these ideas have been helpful and provides some reassurance during this time of isolation. Bare in mind that every school will be different in the ways they teach whilst schools are closed, depending on the needs of their pupils, but that we can all only do the best that we can do.
The important thing is that we are all here for each other for support and guidance, through the shared commitment and belief that every child deserves the best education possible.
Our support will continue through these uncertain times, so please remember that if you need help with anything, do not hesitate to contact us and, across our services, we will try our upmost to assist you and your staff that best that we can.