Zooms this week have often included the words ‘there’s light at the end of the tunnel’ and it is starting to feel like that with schools re-opening in the UK and more and more people getting the vaccine. I’m also aware that in the rest of Europe it may not feel like that at all yet with cases on the rise and new lockdowns being announced. I really wish I didn’t have to write about developments in Education in light of Covid-19, but here we are for another month.Read More
2021 has started off with homeschooling in the UK. A webinar I attended earlier this week on Lessons Learned from Covid-19, made it clear the correct term is online learning and not remote learning as there is nothing remote about it. It certainly brings us closer together in that virtual way, but it also opens up new opportunities, such as amazing guest lectures from people who would have otherwise never traveled to give a lecture. You can watch Educate’s webinar here.Read More
I’ve tried to focus this month on finding some good news stories from the world of EdTech. Some of us might be in another lockdown, facing (more or continuous) school closures and other uncertainties, so we can all use some good news. I’m glad to say I’ve managed to find some.
First up is a story from Estonia, a country which is excelling at digital learning. Turns out the key is in early adoption and routine, so we’ll all be experts soon enough.
With knowledge from the above, it’s no surprise that Estonia ranks very high again in the list of countries which are best preparing their children for the future of work. “The best education systems are those that encourage students to analyze and think for themselves and create the right learning environments” according to the report. Developing critical thinking skills is crucial in this. For those of us who are worried about our children spending too much time online gaming. Rest assured, those critical thinking skills can also be developed playing fun games online!
For some educators and students, it’s been difficult to make the transition to an online virtual learning environment, especially when it comes to social-emotional learning. There are educators, however, who use EdTech to develop social-emotional skills such as collaboration. Some teachers are convinced using platforms like Microsoft Teams and Google Classrooms in a non-restrictive way teaches students flexible thinking and self-control. Have a read here.
The main thing though is that students are engaged in learning and we all know EdTech can achieve that!
Now that it looks like education – the way we teach and learn is affected long term, the EdTech experts are starting to uncover what this may look like and what the implications may be. Will the pandemic lead to an innovation in education though?
The EdTech podcast doesn’t seem to think so. Listen here and join the debate.
The Brookings Institute has written an article on how education can emerge stronger than ever before. “It is hard to imagine there will be another moment in history when the central role of education in the economic, social, and political prosperity and stability of nations is so obvious and well understood by the general population. Now is the time to chart a vision for how education can emerge stronger from this global crisis than ever before and propose a path for capitalizing on education’s newfound support in virtually every community across the globe.” The article also highlights four emerging global trends in education from COVID 19.
Another big educational transformation taking place is a shift from directed education to self-directed education. “….the complexities of our world require deeper connection to our most human traits—such as creativity, empathy, agency, and curiosity—not the algorithmic thinking, regurgitation, and blind deference to authority that our system so effectively engenders with its current methods and targets.” Read more about it here.
Lastly, I wanted to leave you with the report on the EdTech Vision 2025 from the Education Foundation. Not just a celebration of what has been done well, but very much a wake-up call on what needs to be improved for education technology and digital skills for tomorrow’s global citizens.
Northern Ireland Education Companies To Provide Free Software, Resources And Support To Teachers And Parents
Almost overnight schools across the country have switched to online learning in response to Coronavirus restrictions. A group of innovative Northern Ireland companies have come together to offer their support.
Some 30,000+ educators in Northern Ireland are having to adapt quickly to new ways of teaching with many experts suggesting that a blend of classroom and online education may become the “new normal” even beyond the current school year.
This is not only having a huge impact on teachers but also parents and students. As teachers contend with Zoom lessons and assigning homework online, parents are becoming increasingly involved in the day-to-day management of their children’s education.
Innovative technologies and access to great educational content can certainly help make these changes more manageable for all involved. For many, simple advice on how to plan their days and maintain a healthy social-emotional balance can make a huge impact.
In response, NI EdTech – a network of over a dozen education technology and media companies from across the region – has today announced the release of a suite of free resources and software trials designed to help local schools and families navigate these changes.
Speaking on behalf of the network, Frank McGonagle of WholeSchool Software said:
“As a group it’s been really heartening to see so much hard work – from teachers, parents and students themselves – going into maintaining student learning at a very difficult time. Working in education we all know how quickly everyone has had to adapt and it’s certainly not easy. So we wanted to help by giving local schools and families special access to some of our products, services and resources.”
The group was established with support from Invest Northern Ireland through its Collaborative Growth Programme.
Niall Casey, Director of Skills and Competitiveness at Invest NI, said:
“Northern Ireland is at the forefront of education technology and NI EdTech is readily responding to the current challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are delighted to have supported the group through our Collaborative Growth Programme, helping it to bring its innovative technologies to the education sector’s new ways of teaching. By working collectively, it is bringing inspiring learning tools to those in education and helping to establish a new daily routine in homes and schools across Northern Ireland.”
NI EdTech has also released a short video on the “Top Ten Tips for Children Learning at Home”. The video was produced by network member Learning Mole and addresses challenges like balancing screen time, keeping physically active and creating a schedule for young learners.
A full list of available resources released by the group is available online at www.nied.tech and will be regularly updated.
ACADEMY FOR INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE AND RESEARCH (AISR)
Due to COVID19, AISR are offering a free 2 week taster course for their online Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities in Behaviour Management, Assessing Achievement, Food Safety and Catering and Manual Handling.
Contact: [email protected]
BOOP is offering NI mainstream schools free access to their Special Needs Learning and Support Platform, for up to 12 students per school, so teachers can provide structure and consistency over the coming weeks and months. The offer is subject to availability.
To help schools and teachers communicate with parents, Bottletop Media are offering free use of their iClass mobile app for 1 year. The app can help schools eliminate SMS costs, reduce paperwork, manage home work plans and improve communication with parents.
Contact: [email protected]
EARLY YEARS APP
Early Years App provides schools with software to record, review and report on child development milestones. They are offering schools a free Child Emotional Development module to provide support to children, teachers, and parents.
Contact: [email protected]
To help NI Special Education Needs Coordinators access up to date information and resources to support students with additional needs, Edmin Software are offering free access to their DSA Portal until September 2020.
The Izak9 Maths Team is providing access to their online user area plus free content for teachers and families via their Twitter and Facebook channels. You can find them online at www.facebook.com/izak9 and twitter.com/abacusandhelix
Jetpack Learning is offering Northern Ireland schools free access to their “Game Changer” platform which enables teachers to create personalised educational games for their students.
To support parents teaching their children from home, we have over 250 free videos on our YouTube channel and website. Animations, family learning and practical, fun activities to support home learning and children’s development.
Contact: [email protected]
Makematic have teamed up with Concern Worldwide and “social network for social good” Horyou to launch the free #17DaystoLearn challenge. The challenge includes daily “at home” activities and dozens of family-friendly educational animations linked to the seventeen UN Sustainable Development Goals.
TakeTen are offering their school mindfulness programme free of charge – helping all schools to manage pupils’ stress and anxiety – as well as a free trial of their new stress management app for smartphones to help teenagers, teachers and parents during Covid19.
Wholeschool’s Platform of integrated services continues to support hundreds of schools during this crisis. They’re offering a free Home-Schooling Audit to help schools understand how teachers, pupils and parents are adjusting to remote learning and gain insight into tools and practices that really work.