In just a few short months the entire education system has changed, not only within Scotland but across the world. In response to the current COVID-19 crisis teachers have had to drastically alter their teaching practices to meet an entirely new set of challenges.
Prior to the outbreak of this pandemic I was completing my NQT year at Williamwood High School in East Renfrewshire. Although I am a Microsoft Certified Educator and have a strong background in digital technology switching to entirely remote learning was uncharted waters. I frantically began searching for any guidance or advice when making this transition. Through my great network of support on Twitter I was recommended a course by FutureLearn called ‘How to teach online: Providing continuity for Students’. This course brings together a global network of educators to share ideas and ask questions on how to best support students during this period of remote learning. I decided to focus on the very first question posed:
What do you think is the biggest challenge in online teaching?
As you can see from the results of this poll nearly half of the 10,000 course participants, including myself, selected ‘Keeping Students interested and engaged’ as their chief concern.
Having already identified a lack of engagement from my S1 Google Classroom I decided to make this my primary focus for my upcoming Professional Inquiry. Using the knowledge I gained from the FutureLearn course as well as guidance from my network of support in Williamwood I chose to alter my approach to online learning in order to boost engagement among my students. I presented my findings in the form of a Microsoft Sway and used a mix of quantitative and qualitative data to support my conclusions. I have attached the link to this report and hope that you find this useful.
Although we are living in unprecedented and uncertain times it has provided us as educators a unique opportunity to re-examine our own practice. By continually assessing and altering our own pedagogy we are giving our students the opportunity to become 21st century learners and gain the skills required to succeed in an increasingly virtual world.
Fionnuala Glover is a teacher of History at Williamswood High School in East Renfrewshire