Recent technological advancements in the EdTech and how you tackle these challenges in your company
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Recent technological advancements in the EdTech and how you tackle these challenges in your company

Catherine Lock, Head of Computing and Digital Technology, West Suffolk College
Catherine Lock, Head of Computing and Digital Technology, West Suffolk College

Catherine Lock, Head of Computing and Digital Technology, West Suffolk College

With Covid becoming engrained in our everyday life, education is having to adapt. In the Computing department at West Suffolk College, we have had to transform our teaching just like everyone else. No longer do we have full classrooms of students but instead have a new hybrid of classrooms with a blend of half the students in college and half working remotely. For this, EdTech has become invaluable. We now use Microsoft Teams for all lessons and extensively use the collaboration features of many tools to allow students to fully participate in lessons, whether physically in the lesson or remotely.

All our students have access to Office 365 and OneDrive via their college account. This means that when they can save work to their OneDrive account, they can then access it remotely in addition to when in college. We use Moodle for resources, assignments, and submissions. With this is being web based, students can access the resources and submit assignments 24/7, from anywhere with an internet connection. In the past, we have even had a student submitting work whilst on an unplanned trip to America. This means that our lessons are accessible to all our students, gives them the skills needed for this new way of working and readying them for the world of work.

Advancements in EdTech now allows us to customise learning for students and meet their individual needs. Using tools such as ReadWrite and accessibility options, means that resources can be almost personalised for students. In using different tools/platforms, it gives us the ability to ‘save’ a range of resources for students to study later and/or use as revision materials. Videos, presentations, worksheets, interactive websites, glossaries, and quizzes are all tools that we use to support learning, and whilst allowing students access to this variety of resources, it supports their varied needs and abilities.

EdTech allows us to increase communication with all students and support collaboration, not only in individual classes but with students in other classes too. When students were required to conduct market research, they were able to send their questionnaires to other classes for feedback. When other classes are studying the same units, they all have access to class notes from different classes to help with revision. In turn, this means less preparation for lecturers and more insightful and engaging lessons for our students. Lecturers are able to produce lessons that have a variety of content using a variety of platforms which subsequently motivates students and provides an stimulating lesson. It can be very easy to fall into ‘chalk and talk’ for lessons but with EdTech, there are so many resources and different platforms available to make lessons exciting, stimulating and engaging.

Some of the challenges include ensuring that students ‘feel part of the class’ when working remotely. We have some students that are self-isolating, either due to being vulnerable or being a close contact of a positive case. This can then lead to students feeling isolated from the class. To overcome this, we work to provide an environment where students are happy to contribute during lessons, whether this be using a microphone or via chat features. Using Teams allows students to contact staff directly, often with a quicker response than email.

Allowing students to ‘socialise’ outside of lessons is very important in supporting students. Having previously used Facebook to communicate with students, we found that more and more students were no longer using Facebook and had moved to other forms of social media. As we use Teams for lessons, students do use this to discuss college work etc but we have discovered that Discord is a favourite for students to ‘socialise’ outside of lessons so we created a course discord and use inbuilt bots to ensure that netiquette is maintained as well as providing a chosen student with the responsibility of policing the chats. All these techniques support students in feeling part of the class and networking more with their classmates.

All of my teaching team have taken to remote teaching and learning amazingly. EdTech has enabled my team, even during lockdown, to complete meaningful training to ensure they are excellent educators and can fully support our learners in all aspects of their course.

One of the most valuable assets of EdTech that I use is our monitoring systems. We use Promonitor for entering grades, parent reports, learner meetings, contact details, assessment schedules, target setting and so much more. This then feeds into other systems including our report system and I can then view overall achievement etc. Students can check their Individual Learning Plans (ILP’s) online as well to check where they are. With all these systems being accessible via secure web platforms it makes assessment and tracking very efficient and accessible for all that need it. In using EdTech tools, we can also analyse students use and engagement. We use it extensively to get detailed feedback and ensure we are offering the best teaching and learning for our students.

With the importance of computing being continuously highlighted in schools, technology becoming more prevalent in the world and Covid hitting us unexpectedly, EdTech has been given the opportunity to make a real difference and show how important it is.

 

In the Computing department at West Suffolk College, we have had to transform our teaching just like everyone else. No longer do we have full classrooms of students but instead have a new hybrid of classrooms with a blend of half the students in college and half working remotely. For this, EdTech has become invaluable. We now use Microsoft Teams for all lessons and extensively use the collaboration features of many tools to allow students to fully participate in lessons, whether physically in the lesson or remotely.

All our students have access to Office 365 and OneDrive via their college account. This means that when they can save work to their OneDrive account, they can then access it remotely in addition to when in college. We use Moodle for resources, assignments, and submissions. With this is being web based, students can access the resources and submit assignments 24/7, from anywhere with an internet connection. In the past, we have even had a student submitting work whilst on an unplanned trip to America. This means that our lessons are accessible to all our students, gives them the skills needed for this new way of working and readying them for the world of work.

Advancements in EdTech now allows us to customise learning for students and meet their individual needs. Using tools such as ReadWrite and accessibility options, means that resources can be almost personalised for students. In using different tools/platforms, it gives us the ability to ‘save’ a range of resources for students to study later and/or use as revision materials. Videos, presentations, worksheets, interactive websites, glossaries, and quizzes are all tools that we use to support learning, and whilst allowing students access to this variety of resources, it supports their varied needs and abilities.

EdTech allows us to increase communication with all students and support collaboration, not only in individual classes but with students in other classes too. When students were required to conduct market research, they were able to send their questionnaires to other classes for feedback. When other classes are studying the same units, they all have access to class notes from different classes to help with revision. In turn, this means less preparation for lecturers and more insightful and engaging lessons for our students. Lecturers are able to produce lessons that have a variety of content using a variety of platforms which subsequently motivates students and provides an stimulating lesson. It can be very easy to fall into ‘chalk and talk’ for lessons but with EdTech, there are so many resources and different platforms available to make lessons exciting, stimulating and engaging.

Some of the challenges include ensuring that students ‘feel part of the class’ when working remotely. We have some students that are self-isolating, either due to being vulnerable or being a close contact of a positive case. This can then lead to students feeling isolated from the class. To overcome this, we work to provide an environment where students are happy to contribute during lessons, whether this be using a microphone or via chat features. Using Teams allows students to contact staff directly, often with a quicker response than email.

Allowing students to ‘socialise’ outside of lessons is very important in supporting students. Having previously used Facebook to communicate with students, we found that more and more students were no longer using Facebook and had moved to other forms of social media. As we use Teams for lessons, students do use this to discuss college work etc but we have discovered that Discord is a favourite for students to ‘socialise’ outside of lessons so we created a course discord and use inbuilt bots to ensure that netiquette is maintained as well as providing a chosen student with the responsibility of policing the chats. All these techniques support students in feeling part of the class and networking more with their classmates.

All of my teaching team have taken to remote teaching and learning amazingly. EdTech has enabled my team, even during lockdown, to complete meaningful training to ensure they are excellent educators and can fully support our learners in all aspects of their course.

One of the most valuable assets of EdTech that I use is our monitoring systems. We use Promonitor for entering grades, parent reports, learner meetings, contact details, assessment schedules, target setting and so much more. This then feeds into other systems including our report system and I can then view overall achievement etc. Students can check their Individual Learning Plans (ILP’s) online as well to check where they are. With all these systems being accessible via secure web platforms it makes assessment and tracking very efficient and accessible for all that need it. In using EdTech tools, we can also analyse students use and engagement. We use it extensively to get detailed feedback and ensure we are offering the best teaching and learning for our students.

With the importance of computing being continuously highlighted in schools, technology becoming more prevalent in the world and Covid hitting us unexpectedly, EdTech has been given the opportunity to make a real difference and show how important it is.

 

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