We are fortunate at Lancing to be equipped with excellent technology to support distance learning. All students have iPads that interact beautifully with our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). All staff are similarly equipped and will be able to support student learning whether on the school site or not.
ORGANISING THE SCHOOL DAY
The VLE is the means by which, in the course of a normal day, all student evening school (homework or prep) ‘tasks’ should be set. In the event of moving to distance learning for many or all our students, we will keep the structure of the school day running as usual.
Wherever students may be, they can keep to their daily routine remotely, either working to UK time or adjusting to access the same materials in their own time zone. For any class they would normally have, teachers will set a ‘task’ via the VLE task-setting app and a link will be sent to a page of the VLE where a fuller activity will be described along with resources to complete it.
If parents wish to check on the level of the activities set, they only need to ask a student to see their VLE profile in order to check the tasks that they are set.
Click here for a link to a video which explains more about distance learning.
WAYS IN WHICH WE WILL SUPPORT LEARNING
It is not possible to exactly replicate the experience of learning collectively in a class. There are many ways in which we can, however, provide a stretching, multi-faceted experience remotely. These include:
- Podcasts where teachers are able to provide audio narration, often accompanied by other resources such as PowerPoint slides or notes for a class.
- Supplementary reading materials. Lancing has a series of online library and book resources via the College’s eLibrary, one element of the VLE. Articles may be embedded into VLE pages or links sent to them in order that students gain access to stretching and challenging materials. These can be augmented by further resources such as academic journal articles or online reading resources such as Google Books.
- Videos provide another excellent resource, not least as a stimulus to other work and questions or as a means of wider research. Teachers may make short videos of their own to demonstrate core principles or may link to external videos, for example, to demonstrate an experiment in the sciences or a worked example in Mathematics.
- Interactive quizzing and assignment submission. While the main medium of communication between student and teacher will be through email, teachers have been trained in making interactive quizzes to support student learning. These may well function in combination with reading materials or other stimulus materials. Quizzes and revision material can be embedded within the VLE itself, both for multiple choice questions and submission of longer answers. Students might also be given links to external quiz applications like Kahoot, Socrative or Memrise among others. They already use these applications in standard classes.
- Online textbooks and educational subscriptions are already a key feature of some subjects’ teaching when children are on site. They actively structure learning and often have built-in learning activities that can be set and marked remotely.
- Audio recordings allow the personal touch and will be used in some cases to give clear personalised instruction just as they may be used for short periods of narration of a task to be completed or to give audio feedback to individual students on work that they have produced.
- The comment function on VLE pages allow students another means of asking questions in relation to tasks and, while email is the default means for student-teacher communication, teachers may direct students to use this function to ease dialogue between different students in a class or to emphasis a point of understanding.
- Video, chat functions, message-boarding and telephone conferencing may be employed at teacher discretion to support either individual student support or small group learning in combination with the other strategies outlined above. This is unlikely to be the normal way of working at present but it will be deployed where teachers decide that it can be deployed to best effect. Please refer to the accompanying Policy on Distance Learning and Responsible User Agreement also.
- Written tasks will form a backbone to much of this activity. New Office 365 provision for all students and teachers, via the Microsoft office.com hub allows students to ‘share’ documents with staff members who can mark them online. Work may also be emailed to staff, in photograph form if it is handwritten.
- Augmented marking and feedback will allow teachers to add to marking on paper where appropriate, supplementing audio comments or web-links to additional resources where they think that they will help support learning better.
This is not an exhaustive list and nor does any one teacher need to deploy all of these tactics. We will endeavour to make distance learning as varied, interactive and dynamic a means of supporting student progress as possible.
To augment the distance learning activities on the VLE and to allow personalised student check-in with members of the teaching staff, students will be enrolled in ‘Teams’ using the Microsoft Teams application. This is freely available to all of them. We will send them instructions about how to use this application. Many students are already using this means of communication.
Microsoft Teams will allow students to post questions of their individual teachers on message boards and to chat one-to-one with their subject teachers via the chatroom function of the application. There will also be the ability to provide some elements of one-to-one audio and video calling. We are exploring the ways in which we can also do some limited whole-class conferencing via this route, though the VLE will be the major means by which we will organise student teaching by distance learning.
Tutors will also be able to check in weekly with their tutees via Microsoft Teams via video and audio calls or via chat and message boarding to ascertain their experience of distance learning. Houses may very well also use this means to keep a collective sense of the experience of the boarding house and for Housemasters and Housemistresses to check in with members of their Houses.
The routes for students to communicate with their teachers from a distance will be email or via Microsoft Teams unless directed to other means by their individual subject teacher for the completion and support of a particular activity.
Teachers will set work using the VLE task setting app which will appear both on the student’s VLE Profile and on the Student Planner App on their iPad. They will reply to emails from students with queries about work in a timely manner. Teachers will be the instigators of any other means of communication with students eg comments on a VLE page, telephone, message board or video communication.
Parents should communicate any concerns about provision of learning materials in a particular subject to the relevant subject Head of Department. Any more general concerns should be addressed in the usual way to the child’s Housemistress or Housemaster.