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Blended Learning

An Open Invitation to Principals and Technology Coaches

By now, the reality of the Global Pandemic and the National Lock-down has become the new normal for us and others around the world.

As we wait to hear when schools will reopen, learning hopefully is already happening, thanks to the internet and technology that enables remote learning, such as the Apple & Google Classrooms, Microsoft Teams, Moodle & other LMS platforms.

Here are some of my observations, as a service provider to schools, with two children in schools, and a wife who is a teacher.

The Digital Divide Gap is Widening

The digital divide is becoming apparent, as some schools are already online and their students are engaged in daily learning, with teachers providing lessons in well-organised online classrooms, some even engaging learners in daily Hangouts, Meets or Zooms.

Others are being left behind, without any practical way of delivering lessons, or students without internet and/or devices.  They are at the mercy of national efforts to deliver learning to the masses, through radio, television and even a resuscitation of the Dial-a-Tutor service, that connects a single learner with a single teacher.  Considering that there are about 4 million school students nationally, one can only wonder how this service will be sustainable, effective or affordable?

Then there is a middle ground of schools who should and would get their stuff together to implement distance learning that is sustainable, practical, effective and affordable, but who don’t know how to do so, lack the skills, resources or ability to navigate the plethora of options available.

Support for Schools

SchoolCoding would like to assist schools who find themself in this middle ground, by providing professional services to guide schools in their selection and implementation of three of the most popular systems, namely Google, Microsoft and Moodle.

Here is a brief outline of the distinguishing features of each of these systems, each of which enables one or more teachers can deliver content such as documents, videos, links to other sites and even integrate 3rd party apps that provide seamless access to STEM resources, digital textbooks. All of these can be discussed with students who may be assessed online, in the privacy and safety of the shared space, and include Gradebooks, negating the need for paper-based record keeping anymore.

Google Education (aka Google Classroom)

SchoolNetwork Google Classroom

G Suite Education (aka Google Education) combines that familiarity of the popular Gmail interface, with other Google Apps, like Calendar, Chat, Drive and now Hangouts, which is built into each and every Classroom – Google’s solution to learning.  About 2/3 of all American students use Google Classroom, according to the latest stat’s that we have seen. 

Any registered school is eligible to Apply for G Suite Education… 

Microsoft Office 365 for Education

SchoolCoding's Microsoft Teams Demo

Microsoft boasts a new App, called Teams, which combines all of their ever-familiar Office tools, that are typically already installed on every student and teacher’s computer (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) into a learning space, where the focus is learning since the tools are already familiar.  Teams also integrate with numerous 3rd party apps, some of which are specific to Microsoft, like MakeCode and Minecraft.  Every public school in WCED is already a beneficiary of the Microsoft Agreement, which provides Office 365 for Education free of charge incl. online and offline apps. 

Sign Up for Office 365 for Education here…

Moodle

The Moodle Learning Management System (LMS) is an extremely popular solution for those who prefer to customise and brand their course delivery system, being open-source and is well used internationally.  While the system is extremely flexible and malleable, it requires professional technical setup, management and maintenance, which all come at a cost, negating the oft-touted ‘free’ benefit that inevitably requires substantial input to manage and maintain.

Find out more about Moodle for K12 Schools…

Courses

Course Design & Development is an essential aspect of any undertaking to implement any of the distance learning solutions already mentioned, or any other system that schools choose to deliver and manage to learn online.  As certified Microsoft Innovation Educators and Google Certified Educators, SchoolCoding is in a strong position to add tremendous value to your ongoing or planned initiatives to transition to online learning.  

SchoolCoding recently designed and implemented a Data Science and Artificial Intelligence within Microsoft Teams for Education and have just deployed our school-based Coding Extra-Mural programme online version using Google Classroom, where we were able to onboard our students within a week from launching the platform, neatly integrated with 3rd party apps like Code.org, Edpuzzle and Tynker.

Setup

Implementation & Management is an essential aspect of the success or failure of any technology initiative and can enable or frustrate stakeholders, who include teachers, students, parents and managers of the schools that are bold and brave enough to go in this direction. 

SchoolCoding is able to advise, guide, support and deliver any one or a combination of any of these solutions, by working closely with your technology coaches, leadership and staff (even students and parents, if needed) to enable you to quickly and effectively get up and running with your chosen course delivery and learning engagement solution.

Guidance

Training & Support is available from our skilled staff, who are teachers themselves, with years of experience in designing, delivering and defining how learning can and should take place online, with experience in public, private and corporate contexts, gained dealing with numerous projects in various contexts, including primary, secondary and tertiary education industry.

Conclusion

With no clear end to the Coronavirus Pandemic, the need for prolonged social distancing, self-isolation and the distinct possibility that even after schools reopen, some parents may elect to keep their children at home, and some may need to stay home due to self-isolation, distance learning and online courses are here to stay. 

Contact SchoolCoding to discuss how you can implement a cost-effective, sustainable solution that enables you to start your distance learning, enhance or fix a broken or problematic existing system.

Remember to wash your hands, keep your social distance and stay at home!

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