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Welcome to 2022 - what does the new year have in store?

Whilst 2022 is kicking off with a degree of uncertainty regarding what we will face in the months ahead, there are reasons for cautious optimism.

To start with, happy new year to you all, although I am sure that many of us in education have a sense of “here we go again!”. Whilst 2022 is kicking off with a degree of uncertainty regarding what we will face in the months ahead, there are reasons for cautious optimism.

Schools are in a much better place to manage disruption and upheaval than they were two years ago. Teachers, students and parents know what remote learning looks like, and crucially have the tools in place to manage it. Furthermore, there is a greater understanding amongst all parties as to what their role is and how they can support each other effectively, no matter what the situation.

A lot of this has come down to good communication. Teachers, parents and students are finding it easier to communicate with each other and this has meant that the relationship between school and home is better than ever. We have seen this manifest itself in a number of ways, and technology has been a key part of the process. Parents’ evenings are a great example of this - out of necessity, schools moved to hosting these events online, but the success of this approach has meant that a great many schools are now adopting this approach as the norm. Communication with parents has also become more immediate and accessible, with the use of mobile-friendly platforms particularly important in this regard. The ability of parents to read messages on the go, respond to teachers and fill in forms with information the school needs, quickly and easily from their mobile device has made it much easier for parents to engage fully with their child’s school. 

In addition, the learning process has become far more transparent to parents now, with schools using technology to share not only homework, but also learning resources and feedback. In this way parents have the tools and understanding they need to support their child’s learning at home, and discussions with teachers are more productive. It was with these thoughts in mind that we developed the Firefly Parent Portal, designed to help schools communicate effectively with parents, minimise the associated admin, and engage their parents fully with a complete picture of the child’s learning experience. We are committed to simplifying engagement across the whole school community.

However, it is not just schools and parents who are communicating better, edtech companies are as well. With more and more teaching and learning taking place at home, it was vital that technology did not present a barrier. To this end, there has been a lot of collaboration between software providers to ensure that schools are able to use their favourite tools more effectively in conjunction with each other. With deeper integrations and Single Sign On across platforms, teachers, students and parents can move seamlessly from one tool to another, meaning less confusion and frustration for everyone involved, whilst still being able to make the best use of the tools available. Here at Firefly we have been working closely with Microsoft to make this a simpler process for schools. The Firefly LMS, with its two apps for Microsoft Teams, makes it easier for teachers to manage their resources and track the activities and progress of their students. Teachers can use the content they wish, in the environment they are teaching in without the stress of multiple logins, giving them more time to teach, and their students more ways to learn.

But of course all of this means nothing without the hard work of the people on the ground. The last two years have seen a surge in teachers upskilling and learning new strategies. Parents and teachers have a better understanding of the challenges each face and a deeper respect for each other as a result, whilst students have shown extraordinary resilience in the face of ongoing uncertainty. 

Whatever 2022 holds for us all, we have shown that we are ready to meet the challenges that lie ahead. In the meantime, we would like to wish you all a happy, prosperous, and above all, healthy new year!

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