You may have seen our blog on our Untold Experts, however, another role that’s equally as important for Makematic and our work in Educational, online content is our Teaching Advisors. We wish to spotlight just some of the great, academic minds we are honored to collaborate with when developing current and future series.Read More
Motivating and engaging learners can be challenging in any learning environment. But understanding self-determination theory will give you a structure for helping you do this. Self Determination Theory represents a broad framework for the study of human motivation. It suggests that when people are motivated to grow and change, they become self-determined.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
The events at Capitol Hill were shocking. And as an educator, whether you live in the United States or not, there is so much that should be discussed with those you teach.Read More
This year we’ve all had to learn to do lots of things in different ways. Central to my business life are conferences and exhibitions, an opportunity to get together with those who are like-minded, share our knowledge, learn from each other, show our best and get to know one and other better face-to-face.
This month I’ve attended two – Edutech Middle East and Frankfurt Book Fair. Although covering different subject areas, the themes were similar. In the case of Edutech, how are schools and learning systems changing because of the global pandemic and in the case of the Frankfurt Book Fair, how is the publishing industry changing in a brand new online world?
In both instances, the switch in demand to digital services for education and content has been sudden and considerable. This was backed up by major education publishers – on 5th October The Bookseller published an article where Pearson, Scholastic and Hodder all reported that digital sales were sky-rocketing as a result of the global pandemic. In the Middle East, where oil-rich states spend lavish amounts on technology, content and infrastructure, AI has been the saviour helping to manage the massive amounts of data which are being generated by a full switch to a digital learning world.
It hasn’t been a case of having to start from scratch either. There has been massive investment in the education sector in the creation of digital learning resources, the technology to deliver these and the infrastructure needed for learners to effectively learn in a purely digital world for around 20 years. It wasn’t though until these had to be relied on 100%, that they were relied on 100%. The pandemic has accelerated everything. Those publishers whose digital infrastructure and content were strong, structured and ready to deliver has benefitted tremendously whereas those whose wasn’t have had a tough time.
In the world of education in the Middle East, a parallel and similar story has played out to the same conclusion. The technology has been in place for some time, but it was the pandemic which was the catalyst to make a full transition to the widespread use of that technology by teachers and students in their day-to-day lives.
The biggest changes I’ve had to face in my daily life this year is the huge increase in screen time and the complete lack of human interaction other than by a screen that I’m having right now. I’m pretty larger than life and over the years have enjoyed participating in hundreds of physical conferences and exhibitions. I enjoy getting together en masse with like-minded people from my industry or area of specific interest and discussing all the ins and outs of these, meeting new people and learning new facts and points of view. Since March I’ve been out of my house for business on two occasions and now with everyone glued to their screens because conferences are back in full swing, I’ve learned that watching short video precis of conference presentations which some are producing, or having the video and sound on whilst sitting in the digital networking area, or whilst making comments/asking questions in the chat field to the panel, is allowing a different and unique sort of involvement.
At both online conferences, I’ve been able to make new contacts and ask questions which were answered. Whilst I’ve missed seeing people that I’ve known for many years, and I’ve missed the physical interaction which is lost in the 2D world of a presentational live stream or video, I’m finding different and interesting ways to manoeuvre my way through the proceedings of an online conference.
All around us things have changed this year. The feedback from learners I hear both from my own children and those presenting as case studies at conferences is that the educational world they’re in now is one that they recognize more than before. I have noticed the considerable uptick in digital learning that my son’s school have offered this year – a full online learning platform with interactive video, games and puzzles helping him through the maze of really getting to grips with reading, writing arithmetic in year one at school. We had our first year one parent/teacher meeting on Zoom!
My hope is that we will return soon a more normal way of living. I hope to be able to visit in person conferences and exhibitions again that are relevant to my work and business sector.
But for the time being, my trusty laptop and smartphone are doing the hard yards and bringing the world to me.
The whole notion of online teaching and professional development is not an old one. In fact, I was surprised to learn that its history begins way back in 1981 when the Western Behavioural Sciences Inst in La Jolla, CA, started running distance education for business executives via computer conferencing. Since then, many multinational businesses have grown within the space and traditional businesses have metamorphosised through a move to online learning.
Kids are turning up aged 5 at school now with a digital-savvy to rival the best. Teachers have access to whiteboards, laptops, internet connections, online resources from publishers, brands, non-profits, digital content, VLEs and it all works swimmingly. Right? Well judging by what I have seen of my son’s first one year and one month of primary school, there’s still room for improvement.
When faced with a complete lockdown and need to provide proper online teaching, the local education system, appeared to creak at the seams. Maybe it is because it doesn’t seem as though there has been a concerted effort to couple the introduction of new technology in schools, with the introduction of blended learning methodology in teacher training. This would overall raise the bar in state education and without this approach, digital learning and digital content become ancillary to the ‘analogue’ classroom experience.
My first interaction with online digital learning was around 15 years ago in the professional space when a member of my team excitedly showed me Lynda.com, now of course Linked In Learning. Lynda was the gateway to the world of online learning for me – many of the experiments and projects we were attempting to do at that time as an early digital publishing team, were beyond our combined knowledge and capability, and being on tight budgets invariably we would learn software packages or web design techniques via the easy-to-use searchable interface that Lynda provided. I didn’t look back.
Since then, there has been a massive increase in the amount of both office and classroom hardware and software being produced and sold all around the world along with all manner of different attendant courses on how to make everything work.
In the classroom, the ubiquitous classroom whiteboard is supplemented with voting pads, laptops, iPads, and a whole host of other technology hardware and software products and services. As this has grown, the amount of video content has grown targeting teachers and giving them tips on how to use it.
This year the COVID crisis has highlighted both the need for increased interaction with online resources in any form of education for both teachers and learners. Our own recently launched TOM – Teaching Online Masterclass is a free online professional development resource for teachers making the leap into remote teaching and learning. Teachers, who hold a crucial role within the education eco-system, are being rapidly upskilled in the methodology of teaching both in the classroom and online using a blend of different learning experiences. This is key to creating the community they create in the classroom, in the online space – a definite challenge. If they don’t, they risk being left out in the rain. Their pupils will become alienated and the process will become soggy and tired.
We have learned from my son’s school that at the flick of a switch, his year one teacher can take the classroom experience and re-create it online with individual 1:1 teacher Zoom time factored in for each and every child online too. We now have a timetable for home-learning should the school be closed, and if it’s needed will give him 1:1 teacher Zoom time every two days – something which in its own right is no mean feat.
Teaching and learning are going through an enforced change right now. With little or no notice, thousands of schools up and down the country are having to adapt and change to home-schooling supported by the teacher online. Whilst the last lockdown was pretty much a write-off educationally from the perspective of every fellow parent that I’ve spoken to, there seems to have been a huge technology uptick in our local school since. Systems have been geared up to make sure that everything can be run as if it were in the school, and a questionnaire sent before the term even started has made sure that every child has access to the technology needed in a home-schooling environment, if just via a smartphone.
We are hoping that school stays open, but if not, then this time round, teachers and their pupils have better support. Let us hope it will be a more fun and educational time.
For many of us, September means the start of the new school year. This year, there’s a lot of uncertainty and changes to the usual set-up. Some students aren’t going back at all, some will have a hybrid model and others will sit in a classroom that looks and feels very different from before. Over these last six months, a lot has been written about the effect of COVID on Education and a lot more research will need to be done to assess the full effects. However, we do already know that some changes will be here to stay. Some people even say that the new desk set-up in the primary school classrooms, with all pupils facing the same direction towards the teacher, will increase attainment.
This article gives you some more insight into what the future of the classroom may look like. Hologram teachers are only just the start.
Two contrasting scenarios are offered here about EdTech and content consumption. First of all, a report by Credit Suisse, which claims that education is having its own Netflix moment. Secondly, how EdTech companies in South East Asia are partnering up with Telecoms providers.
This article explains that where internet access is scarce, students, teachers and parents are turning to ‘old-fashioned’ television for their lessons. It is lacking the interactive element, but in countries like Brazil, this has become the dominant model over the last couple of months. It certainly is better than nothing and it looks like some countries are going to invest more in their televised educational system.
What do you think, are we teaching our children enough critical thinking skills?
We’re pleased to announce that Teaching Online Masterclass (TOM) a free course for educators to help adapt to online teaching is now available to view at tom.makematic.com
TOM is a free online professional development resource for teachers making the leap into remote teaching and learning. With a focus on pedagogy over technology, it’s a catalogue of bite-sized videos produced in partnership with Adobe, ClickView, iCivics and Participate. TOM contains 50+ professional development videos from K-12 online teaching experts about online pedagogy, designing online classes and curriculum, building communities of practice and digital well-being.
“TOM is a series that has been created with K-12 educators in mind. It focuses on online pedagogy over technology and really takes into account what the research tells us works in this space. The contributors were carefully chosen because of their expertise in the K-12 education space, as practitioners or professionals who really know what it takes to be a super online educator. More than ever educators are crying out for resources such as this, and that’s why it’s such an exciting project to be involved in.” Tara Walsh, Makematic’s Director of Engagement and Innovation, said.
“We work with tens of thousands of incredible teachers who are facing so much uncertainty in their work. That makes it extra important for one thing to remain certain – that teachers are talented professionals who know what effective instruction looks like. With the right guidance, there’s no reason they can’t transfer that effective instruction to online spaces. TOM is that guidance. It meets teachers where they are and provides targeted and convenient coaching to elevate their online practice.” said iCivics’ Chief Education Officer, Emma Humphries.
TOM is now available to watch for free at tom.makematic.com.
TOM is also available at Adobe Education Exchange. Sign up to earn an Adobe digital badge and 4 hours of accredited professional learning.
Lately, I’ve been doing a fair bit of work with my school leaders to help our staff be better positioned to teach and support our Students with Learning Needs (SWLN). It’s not to say that our staff are not doing anything – they are. It’s also not to say that they don’t know what they are doing – on the most part, they do. But I’ve come to the realization that there is, a lack of understanding in knowing the ‘why’ behind their supports, (aside from the obvious why that is).
Why do we modify, adjust or accommodate the learning needs of students?
(1) a person is not treated unfairly because of their disability and
(2) that a student with a disability can learn and participate in education on the same basis as their peers.
Within our classroom and our teaching practice, it is up to us to ensure that a SWLN is able to learn and is not made to feel different because of their struggles. I mean you wouldn’t ask a student with a broken leg to run 100 metre race, would you?
And it’s the words – modify, adjust and accommodate – that I’ve come to realise that staff struggle to understand. By unpacking the differences between modification, adjustment and accommodation I’ve seen a real change in classroom practice.
Let’s unpack this further
Modification. In education terms, modification means that changes in academic expectations need to be made. That the student is working at a level below their peers, and as such, we need to modify the curriculum expectations to enable them to achieve and feel success. A student with an Intellectual Disability or a Developmental Language Delay requires modifications. They are cognitively behind their age appropriate peers so cannot be expected to complete the exact same output as their peers. Teachers need to modify their level of work so that it is more cognitively appropriate. Students who require modification may also benefit from accommodations and adjustments, depending on the subject and their challenges.
Accommodations and adjustments can be discussed in the same manner. This is where teachers need to make decisions that either accommodate the disability or the learning is adjusted because of the disability.
- When we accommodate, we use our knowledge of the learning challenges for the student and use this for their outcomes.
- Yet, when we make adjustments, we are changing the way we expect an output from a student because of their challenge.
Take Dyslexia for example – it is a Specific Learning Disorder generally related to reading and writing. We can’t ask a student with a reading disability to sit and read a passage of text aloud to the class, or even to themselves, without some sort of accommodation or adjustment. To accommodate the dyslexia, a teacher would avoid asking this student to read aloud. To make an adjustment for dyslexia would be to allow the student to use assistive technology that reads aloud to them as they follow along.
How to know which is appropriate?
This is where your knowledge of your student in your class is paramount. When planning your lesson or assessment task, teachers need to take the time to consider the following question for each SWLN.
- Is the student capable with a couple of tweaks or will it not be enough to just tweak?
If the student is still not going to be able to achieve with adjustments, then modifications might also need to be made.
Always ensure you have consulted with both the student and their family to ensure they are
(1) aware that changes to their curriculum need to be made and
(2) to give the student a voice in their learning – that they have been consulted and agree to what you’re planning for them.
I always tell my parents that they have a PhD in their child, and this goes a long way to helping us at school to know how best to support their learning journey.
There isn’t enough known about best practice is the blended learning space at K-12. In fact, most of the research and best practice information out there is in higher education, with a sprinkling in secondary.
We want to change that!
That’s why Makematic is looking for new educators to contribute to our blog. We’re looking for K-12 educators to share their insights on:
- Teaching in the online world
- Strategies to help educators build activities and engage learners in blended environments
- Strategies and activities on how to use video and web-conferencing tools
I’d Like To Contribute What Do I Need To Do?
Email [email protected] with the subject line “Educator Insights Blog” to pitch us your idea!
This needs only to be a couple of sentences summarising what you’d like to write about. If you’re feeling really inspired why not give it a title too!