The Future Of Education Has Arrived – Jennifer Oaten

In August 2019, I wrote a News Blog on our Future of Education Panel.

This was the introduction I wrote…….

The media regularly states that education has not changed since we were at school. I disagree! It has changed significantly, but we also have many opportunities to consider further change for the future. Some of the key differences our girls experience today compared to our school days is a greater focus on the application of knowledge and a focus on thinking and integration of technology.

In the past six weeks, education has changed more than it has in 100 years.

In the past six weeks, education has changed more than it has in 100 years. The disruption caused by COVID-19 has pushed teachers well out of their comfort zone and given them little choice but to learn new technologies one day, and the next to be implementing it with classes. Using new technology is one thing but using it in front of a class of 25 students as a beginner, with new software, is very daunting.

Comments from teachers about this experience

‘I was so nervous I practised my lesson last night until I was sure I could do it.’ (This was from a highly talented and experienced teacher.)

‘Even a dinosaur like me has managed to learn new technologies, and I am getting better. The ITC support has just been amazing, and I’ve learnt so much.’

‘I’m not very comfortable as a middle-aged man, sitting in front of a screen talking to 25 silent girls when you can’t see all their faces or judge their understanding, but it is getting easier.’

‘I have loved being creative and designing new tasks that work in a remote setting to engage the girls in meaningful independent learning.

‘The girls were too polite to tell me my microphone was muted! I know now!’

‘I can’t wait to get back in the classroom!

Our teachers are highly skilled, knowledgeable and talented in a classroom. The classroom is where they engage, question and challenge our girls. This is where the majority of learning opportunities happen, and our teachers are very comfortable in this environment. For many, this experience of online teaching is like being a graduate teacher all over again.

New skills learnt in the past six weeks

  • How to use Teams meetings effectively with a class
  • Using SEQTA for e-submissions
  • OneNote structure for remote learning resources
  • Recording PowerPoint presentations
  • Sharing screens and teaching students ‘live’
  • Screen recordings and videos – saving, editing and uploading
  • Using rubrics and other formats for online marking and feedback
  • New absentee systems

The above list only outlines the method of delivery, as then comes the content and learning opportunities that also needed to be developed! All this was happening while the staff still had full teaching loads.

What I am most proud of

  • The hours and commitment staff have put in to upskill and practice.
  • The collaboration between the staff and how they assisted and learnt from each other.
  • Their adaptability when a plan was put into place, and then a few days later, it changed again.
  • How they encouraged each other, to be brave and have a go.
  • Their ability to maintain calm throughout, to ensure our girls felt reassured and confident.
  • Their creativity in developing engaging online learning.
  • How they continued always to want the best for the girls they teach.

Staff thank you

I wish to acknowledge our Head of Digital Learning, Melissa Marshall and all of our technology team for their incredible support of all staff and students on this journey. In one week, there were 192 online requests for help solved in addition to the face to face assistance provided.

I have always held our staff in high regard yet now their professionalism and their dedication during this pandemic is something that will remain with me for a long time. They are excellent role models for our girls. Every one of them has shown that anything can be achieved if you set your mind to it!

To end.....

Learning at Santa Maria College will never be the same again; this experience has opened the door. I believe teachers will rethink the ways they deliver the curriculum and now they have experienced these new technologies they will be more open to experiencing new possibilities. I feel there will be an appetite to do things differently moving forward and I look forward to it!

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