Learning remotely or remotely learning?

My first reflection in our “brave, new world ” of education in Victoria.

Everyone was wondering how are students would go as they logged in to our classes from home.

Very few of the year 7 and 8 students in my classes have ever had to do this ( only some with a medical issue for a short time). As a whole, the boys at our school have always indicated that they liked attending the school.

I teach mostly digital technologies classes so I also have the advantage of teaching a subject that they all have an interest in (one way or another). These holidays saw me spending a lot of time working through my lessons. Creating videos, putting extra guidelines, more images and trying to make sure they have all the information they need to learn. I like to have small group and whole class discussions as well as individual input in almost every class and this is is very much restricted. I also like to get their ideas about many aspects of technology, that that leads to some wonderful spontaneous learning situations. Again hard to be as spontaneous when we are all distant with our own particular home setups.

However the first two days of classes have been very rewarding and the students indicated their presence in our class forum at the right time. After that they went to the online class space we have been using for the past 2 years. This space is not new to them as I have always put all class documents, links and copies of my class notes and all the expected student work here for them to access.

Our school wants us to use the forum option (that is part of our Learning Management System) as the starting platform for each class. For the moment, within each class forum I set up with 2/3 threads. In each forum I began by clarifying my expectations of the boys, using the following information adapted from the rules I use with other collaborative

Welcome boys to our ……… class forum.

This forum will be used for class discussions and attendance if the College is forced to close.

Lesson plans and activities will be online in Courses section of SEQTA Learn as usual. However you will be required to indicate your attendance at home by replying via this forum.

REMEMBER: This is an online space and, as with our earlier class Padlets, it is a public, school forum and the same expectations apply.1. ENJOY being in this space and “PLAY NICELY”
2. Be RESPECTFUL of the ideas and opinions of others.
3. As this forum space is designed as a school-based one, LANGUAGE and CONTENT needs to be carefully CONSIDERED.
4. No bad or threatening language please. It will be deleted.
5. All members must be TOLERANT towards sensitive issues and the opinions of others.
6. NO SPAM.
7. If commenting on items, please be sensitive and mindful towards others as you expect them to be towards you.

PLEASE make sure you do not start your own threads, separate to what we are doing in class. These will be deleted.

After this I create an attendance thread for the lesson – This is a somewhat clumsy way to mark the roll. There is a lot of jumping between the forum and my online class attendance roll. (But it works well enough!)

The second thread I set up was for the boys to ask questions. It allows me to answer problems or clarify instructions in the lesson. Some of the other boys can also assist in the process. This certainly kept me busy but it seemed to work well with the classes on both days.

16/04/2020 Questions and/or reflections on the lesson

‘Comment’ in this thread any time between –.– and –.–this morning with any questions that you would like to ask me about the work that has been set for the lesson. I will be checking this thread and answering your questions until –.–

Just before year 8 DigiTech classes ended today, I asked the students to respond to the lesson by answering the following questions.

  1. What did I learn in this lesson? Explain in one or 2 sentences

  2. What did I complete everything? Answer by briefly telling me what you managed to do and how.

  3. What was the most important idea/skill I learnt about in this class? Explain in a few sentences           

I was really pleased with the way they answered each of the questions. Although brief, it really did help me evaluate the success of all the lesson components.

So how is student learning progressing? So far, so good. We are all learning and modifying and refining as we go. I am learning what the different classes and different students require to improve on what is already there. In the long run, when things “get back to normal”, I envisage that I will have such a rich supply of material to support my classes into the future.

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