The importance of home working during lockdown to sustain learning

With education thrown into disarray by school closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, teachers and parents around the globe are navigating a strange new world of distance-learning and home-teaching.

Written by Allan Dougan, Global Head of Education at 3P Learning

The unprecedented global outbreak - described as the worst public health crisis in a generation - means families and educators alike have been working together to tackle the challenges of remote learning with confidence. Despite having to juggle childcare commitments and potential job instability, the pressure is still on for teachers and parents to deliver meaningful learning experiences in lieu of the classroom and face to face time we usually take for granted.


Although there’s no bypassing the fact that this is a massive disruption to normal life (to say the least), it’s important to remember that the concept of distance education is hardly a new one. Advanced education technology will continue to make remote teaching and learning easier - a luxury that didn’t exist at the time of the Secure Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARs) or H1N1 swine flu virus outbreaks in 2002-4 and 2009 respectively.

With that said, school closures do pose a significant threat to student learning and development if teachers and parents are unable to adapt to the current climate and change their methods.

Learning

In order to guarantee the educational outcomes and future prospects of millions of children globally it’s crucial that the momentum of home learning is maintained. Here are my top tips for educators and teachers to ensure that schooling at home continues to sustain learning and progress, particularly in core subjects such as maths. By keeping home learning consistently productive, pupils will not suffer from gaps in their knowledge or learning in foundational areas like numeracy and literacy. Not only is a strong grounding in maths essential for careers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) sector, numeracy is also required to function in everyday life (from managing finances to telling the time) as well as enhancing creativity and critical thinking[1].
 
  • Ensure students have access to technology and the support required
Firstly, it is important to ensure that students have consistent access to technology – and if not, that there are procedures in place so that students can get help where needed. Not every home will always have a reliable internet connection or readily available devices for students to use. An initial email, message or text to parents will give them the opportunity to address these issues and keep the lines of communication open to ensure ahead of time that any problems faced by students can be accommodated. To combat potential internet connectivity problems, it’s important to ensure that a clear hotline is created, whatever systems are in place, so that students can document and report technical issues.
 
  • Make the most of all available technology
Utilising all existing technology available to you is absolutely crucial. Many education technology providers are offering free subscriptions or additional support packages designed to help schools keep pupils engaged, on track with the curriculum and communicating well with parents and students.
 
  • Advocate a continued love of learning by introducing new online activities
School closures are tough for everyone involved, but as educators, it’s important to continue to foster a love of learning and encourage students to have fun and get creative with their technology platforms.
 
Get in touch with your eLearning companies and find out what is on offer. Most platforms are brimming with areas students may not have discovered yet and which will keep them focused and engaged. Encourage your students to explore different areas of software, such as downloading an eBook or watching an educational video!
 
  • Get the family involved
Make the most of this difficult time by using the coronavirus lockdown to get the whole family on board with learning across the curriculum. Reading at home can be celebrated by showing families how to use online literacy programs.
 
Teachers should encourage students to share and explore the programs with their siblings and friends (virtually), and to keep parents informed of their progress so that they can get involved too. Before long, reading will become a family affair rather than an activity solely done at school.
 
  • Use gamification to combat a lack of motivation
Digital programmes can also help with a problem commonly faced by pupils, parents and staff alike – motivation. As children continue to adapt to working from their kitchen tables and gardens instead of their usual desks and playgrounds, the desire to complete learning can easily wane – especially for subjects like maths which may be perceived as ‘boring’ or ‘difficult’. Gamified apps and programmes have been proven to boost motivation and learner engagement in individual students, particularly in the early years. Setting clear, measurable goals is the best source of motivation. Instead of setting an open-ended task and leaving students to their own devices, it’s important to specify the time that should be spent on the task, a measurable outcome, a means of accountability and a due date.
 
  • Maintain a community during isolation
Isolation is probably the biggest hurdle lockdown has posed for many of us, so setting goals through digital learning platforms can be a great way of maintaining the community spirit of the classroom in the online world. Students can share their successes and stories with one another and feel a sense of companionship in their home learning journey.
 
  • Allow space for experimentation
Most importantly of all, give yourself and your students the opportunity to explore the different options and learn the best way to sustain home learning.
Our ‘new normal’ is still worlds away from our usual daily routines, with many reporting increased feelings of anxiety at the loss of control. We need to take it slowly, explore what works and do what the best learners of all do – make mistakes. During this difficult time, doing our best is enough.
 
BOX OUT

We’ve made sure that as a global leader in the market, our multi-award award-winning suite of online education resources is available to educators and schools during this difficult and unprecedented scenario. This includes our much-loved Mathletics challenge and reward maths resource and Reading Eggs, our comprehensive range of online reading lessons, activities and eBooks that teach children aged 2–13 the core literacy skills needed for reading success. The increased support is open to both new and existing customers. Any new customers can use 3P Learning’s resources for free for 30 days and use any of the webinars and increased support to get up and running as quickly as possible

Currently 3P Learning has over 5 million pupils across 17,000 schools worldwide that have benefitted from the launch of our Digital Accelerator Support Package, designed to help schools keep pupils engaged, on track with the curriculum and communicating well with parents and students.
13/05/2020