We’ve all learnt plenty of things lately, and one is what a positive impact tech can make when it’s used meaningfully. At Sir Manasseh Meyer International School (SMMIS), staff and students are showing the community exactly that. In the February issue of Expat Living, we profiled the school’s innovative use of technology in its STEAM initiative known as the Makerspace Programme. Now, in the face of the COVID-19 crisis and the need for a remote online teaching programme, this is being used within the scope of technology for online schooling as well as ongoing student learning.
Collaborate & Listen
Like many schools over the past month or more, SMMIS has had to quickly plan and implement a remote online teaching programme. What helped, according to the team, was the rapid professional development of staff in preparation for this move to online. It meant that as soon as the school’s students began learning from home, the staff were able to shift their focus to the task of educating, rather than concentrating on mastering the technology itself.
Emma Shulman is a Digital Innovation and Change Consultant for the school. She says, “SMMIS’s strategic plan incorporated elements of digital transformation and ICT integration well before COVID-19. So, when the move was made to learning online, they didn’t need to scramble for a solution.”
For Grade 4 and above, Microsoft Teams is the platform facilitating staff and student communication. Every base is covered: face-to-face synchronous learning, collaboration, the deployment of the curriculum, assessment and feedback.
With the younger years (Grade 3 and below), SeeSaw continues to be the game-changer. Students and teachers are using it to collaborate, create and go through the process of feedback and reflection. And they’re doing it in a way that’s easily accessible. What’s even more wonderful is that it opens up the learning so parents can see it, feel involved and support and encourage their children’s growth outside the classroom.
A set of new responsibilities comes hand in hand with emerging tech. The safety of students online is always paramount, and the school says that it takes this very seriously. This means there is filtering on the Wi-Fi, and safe-searching is always turned on at the network level. Furthermore, students are taught about digital citizenship, and teachers constantly explore and reinforce topics of privacy, safety and netiquette.
Brave New World
This response to the changes wrought by COVID-19 is presenting students with the opportunity to use technology to set themselves up for their world of work post-study. Their future workplaces, after all, will require them to have the ability to communicate effectively and collaborate using digital tools. They’ll also be required to evaluate and be critical of the deluge of information that they’ll be exposed to through digital sources.
When technology is purposefully integrated into the curriculum, it increases student engagement. It also helps teachers to gather analytics needed to personalise learning for students. But, most importantly right now, technology is what is helping us fulfil that most basic need of humanity – connection.
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