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Facing School Closures: How Dulwich College is driving innovative online learning practices

In response to providing online learning in light of the Coronavirus outbreak, Craig Davis, Director of Education at Dulwich College International, wrote an inspiring article. In this blog we will look more closely at what has made their approach so successful.

Craig describes the innovative ways in which teams of teachers and education executives across all their colleges in various countries have adapted their teaching and learning approach to meet the needs associated with the current disruptions. Notably, having strong digital systems in place has allowed them to be prepared for learning continuity.

 

On implementing an elearning environment

In an  elearning environment, it’s important to ensure that the engagement of students and the quality of learning is similar to a  ‘normal’, real-time classroom experience. This arrangement may pose the following challenges to students, teachers and parents:

  • creating learning experiences that align with DCI Learning Principles and curriculum frameworks
  • taking cognisance of the social and emotional needs of students. Finding ways to engage in physical activity, homeroom tutoring  and scheduled brain breaks
  • setting up communication channels to support parents in their partnership with teachers to make learning effective for younger students
  • overcoming language barriers in International schools where parents may need to act as facilitators of their child’s learning
  • communicating and monitoring best practice
  • choosing the elearning tools that best fit needs

Dulwich College International uses Firefly alongside a  range of tools to overcome these challenges. Most notably with Firefly they are able to embed different teaching and communication tools to ensure consistency of learning. For example using tools such as video, translation tools, webinar-style interaction, hyperlinks to resources and peer to peer online feedback. 

 

On the importance of monitoring and analysing 

The use of digital tools allows teachers to both deliver lessons online and monitor and evaluate quality and consistency of learning. Dulwich College International measures the impact of implementation by conducting pulse checks and then interpreting data on student engagement, quality of learning and the challenges faced by students and parents.

The team at Dulwich College International have also recognised the necessity of support around the social and emotional needs that this way of learning creates. Mr. Davis notes; “A key factor in all of this, is the students’ own capacity to mobilise themselves online to form supportive social groups for both study and wellbeing.”

Besides collecting data on completing learning tasks, Dulwich College International wants to measure positive learning outcomes and the qualitative experience of the students. To this end, they have  created communication channels through which students and parents can ask questions and express concerns and ideas with their teachers. Monitoring and analysing this information gives them a clear insight into the learning experience of their students.

Using Firefly, they are also able to monitor the quality of learning and teaching. It does this by tracking completion of tasks, indicating positive learning outcomes and recording qualitative experience data such as personalised feedback. For example teachers can easily track the progress of a long-term project, through the recording of feedback and comments from both the teacher and the student. 

 

On the importance of collaboration

The speed at which teachers respond, the implementation of best practice and the sharing of exemplar successes goes a long way to promote effective learning experiences.

Mr Davis ends his article with an invitation to other schools and practitioners to reach out in the spirit of collaboration. Collaboration between schools and practitioners in sharing ideas and resources for the benefit of all students, families and colleagues, not just during time of school closures, but for the future of learning.

At Firefly, we are proud to partner with other ‘tech’ companies to ‘meet real needs and solve real problems. It allows schools to bring a range of tools and resources into one centralised hub. 

Firefly also makes it easy for teachers to share resources and identify best practices, continuously improving quality of teaching and course content. Teachers can also look for ideas through our Firefly Learning Community site which is a forum for Firefly schools to share advice and first-hand experiences of using technology to enhance teaching and learning.

Get in touch with one of our learning experts to discuss how your school can best provide online learning. 

 

Resources:

Necessity is the Mother of Invention - Dulwich College article

A guide to managing school closures

Best distance learning practice for Web-Conferencing

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