As Australian schools begin to open their doors again, teachers and students are still facing a period of remote education.
Unfortunately, the rapid spread of the virus has caught many schools unprepared. While some may already have limited remote learning capabilities in place, most are facing the challenge of rapidly scaling up and maintaining the capability.
Ensuring education can continue in the weeks and months ahead is vital. Without access to curriculum materials and interaction with teachers, students risk falling behind which could have a long-term detrimental impact on them.
Thankfully, many teachers and students are very enthusiastic about this new way of learning. Yet, while enthusiasm is great, success is also going to be heavily reliant on supporting technology. Teachers and students will need to have in place the infrastructure that will allow their lessons to continue.
To achieve this, there are six key steps that schools, teachers, parents and students need to take:
- Assess the budget: An important first step is to evaluate how much funding is available to establish the new remote learning infrastructure. This will help to determine exactly what is deployed and in which places. Spending money that doesn’t exist is not the best strategy.
- Review existing devices: Many schools have already equipped students with devices, such as iPads. Many of these will be suitable for an extended period of remote learning which will reduce the need to purchase more. If any students do not have access to a suitable device in their home, they will quickly need to be supplied with one. Make sure the school-issued devices are managed through a mobile device management (MDM) provider to ensure the student is set up with the right tools and is secure.
- Evaluate available tools: When it comes to remote communication and collaboration, there are a plethora of choices available. For voice and video conferencing, there’s services such as Zoom, Facetime or Google Hangouts. Others support collaboration by allowing groups to share and interact with a piece of content at the same time. Some MDMs allow teachers to limit functionality of a device remotely and in real-time, so the student is able to focus on the lesson at hand without distraction. Teachers, school administrators and parents should evaluate all options and select those that best match their children’s requirements.
- Assess technical skills: While it’s important to select and deploy the best tools and services, ensuring teachers and students are able to use them is just as vital. Once the tools are in place, take time to educate those who will be using them. This ensures they can function as needed and won’t end up being an impediment in the education process.
- Continually review: To ensure students are getting as much value as possible from their remote learning experience, it’s important to review how things are going on a regular basis. Feedback should be sought from all participants and used to tweak systems and processes. Because infrastructures will have to be rolled out quickly, it’s highly likely that changes will need to be made. Responding quickly will ensure student learning is disrupted as little as possible.
- Engage parents: Depending on the MDM partner you choose, some offer tools that empower parents with mangament control over their children’s devices. Parents can keep homework sessions focused and eliminate distraction while at home.
Australian schools and their students are in uncharted waters. Planning, deploying, and managing a system of remote learning will help to support students and ensure their education can continue during this troubling period.
Francesco Garbellini is education account executive at JAMF.Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]