Transitioning between home learning and school learning: the yo-yo of learning

It’s often said that the key to success is consistency. Achieving a good outcome while yo-yoing in and out of different circumstances is no easy task. This past year has seen many changes of circumstances affecting the way we teach and learn. With abrupt transitions in COVID-19 levels throughout early 2021, teachers and students in different parts of the country have had to adapt quickly. Level changes have varied from a few days to a few weeks, and for some teachers this yo-yoing has been very disruptive to their plans. Teachers and students have had to get better at transitioning between home learning and school learning.

Through these experiences, many teachers are now feeling better prepared for changing scenarios. Some have adopted hybrid approaches where face-to-face learning has been supported – in class or out – by online portals. These enable students to access resources and continue learning outside a regular classroom environment. Others have been running classes where some students are attending in person, and at the same time, students join the live class from home via video conferencing. The latter has particularly helped students who are sick or are having to self-isolate for a period of time.

There are lots options for how to do things differently – regardless of which is chosen, teachers need to have a plan ready to go in these unpredictable times.

Planning for different eventualities

Research by McKinsey and Company demonstrates that just handing out devices to students doesn’t lead to improved learning. Device access is important, but planning is key. A good plan enables schools to quickly and efficiently switch the way their students learn.

It’s a challenge to do remote learning well. Schools that have maintained a blended approach have coped better with the shift up and down COVID-19 levels. Their students have been able to regularly access and engage in content, tasks and forums with ease. Greater consistency has been possible, due to the implementation of a plan that takes inevitable change into account.

In terms of wellbeing as well as learning outcomes, teachers wants the best for their students. Many students are dealing with added stresses at present, both general and Covid-related. These include not just changeable learning environments, but economic dislocation and mental health challenges — which clearly affect learning in any context. Old face-to-face teaching methods are making way for new teaching models, as teachers consider how to plan for consistency in students’ learning regardless of circumstances and in spite of hurdles.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that just presenting on a video call is rarely a substitute for face-to-face learning. The challenge is to incorporate these new technologies in ways that improve access and quality of learning”.

New global data reveal education technology’s impact on learning
The use of adaptive technology programmes is something positive to come from the pandemic.  Image shows half textbook, half laptop.

A closer look at adaptive technology programs

Smart adaptive-technology programmes can integrate instruction, practice, and feedback to allow students to work at their own pace, only moving on when they have fully grasped the material. For example, iQualify for Schools mathematics resources make formative assessments more efficient, immediate, and fair — reducing teacher bias. Students can use an artificial intelligence tutor to fill in gaps in their learning and identify their next steps.

iQualify for Schools offers a solution that meets the challenge of shifting COVID-19 levels and learning in different settings. It is an online learning management system (LMS) that provides an easy-to-use way for teachers and schools to create content pages, quizzes, assessments and more. Not only that, but the iQualify for Schools team has a range of resources available which teachers can use as they are, or customise for their students’ needs.

Planning for transitioning between home learning and school learning

Here are some things to consider to ease the transition back and forth from home to school.

1. Reevaluate teaching practices

Like everyone in a world affected by Covid-19, teachers cannot take the status quo for granted anymore. Reevaluating the day-to-day is the only way forward. We have been forced to figure out how technology is best used to facilitate learning, for every part of the curriculum.

Ultimately, using a variety of approaches to teaching meets the diverse needs of students. Using a variety of approaches regardless of circumstances will provide students with the consistency they really need. Blended learning offers a solution that changes how students access resources and the way resources are delivered. Let’s use a collaborative teaching practice as an example.

The pandemic-related disruption that all learners have faced has put a lens on collaborative solutions as being the most effective. Teachers and peers learn from each other — people want to interact, not just listen and work on their own. The need to participate is high, verbally and through projects, so learners can demonstrate what and how they are learning. This is a challenge to achieve remotely, but don’t let the challenge put you off: the process of learning is as important as the content. Teachers and students have used technology to its potential by collaborating effectively from any location. Blended learning has paved a way to more flexible classroom dynamics and a well-designed LMS provides user-friendly avenues for collaboration. Here we see that the same desired outcome of providing collaborative solutions can be used both in and out of the classroom when the right tools are utilised.

2. Communicate well with your students

There are lots of options for communicating with students and their families. Lockdown showed many teachers that when they communicated well with their students, their students in turn demonstrated increased motivation to do tasks and attend group meetings.

Be consistent. For example, when using an LMS, keep the learning portal updated — whether your students are learning face-to-face or remotely. Regular updates make the transition back and forth much easier. Choose an LMS that paves the way for efficient communication.

3. Share learning/resources with whānau

One of the advantages of remote learning is that a teacher can have a much closer learning relationship with a student’s whānau. Whānau also have more opportunities to interact with their child’s learning. They can see what tasks and assessments are being completed by learners. Think about how you can accentuate the learning relationship for you, your students and their families.

4. Make use of ready made online programmes

iQualify for Schools has digital resources that give teachers ready-to-use materials. These can be changed to suit your learners and context. NZ Curriculum and NCEA resources are available for various subjects from Year 9 to Year 13. For many teachers these resources have been hugely beneficial. Teachers have been able to use them either in a face-to-face, blended or remote learning setting.

Want to try iQualify for Schools? Get in touch now. We’ll get you set up so you can support students to transition better between home and school, and feel less of the yo-yo affects of changes in circumstances.

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