As stated in the Context section, it is not sound, pedagogically or otherwise, to move an entire curriculum online and expect to be able to deliver it from a distance. We might be able to deliver the same content, but there is no guarantee that pupils will be able to learn in the same way.
A curriculum that has to be taught online must be remodelled. It needs to move at a different pace to ensure that pupils understand how their learning links together even more explicitly than under normal circumstances. Equally, parts of the curriculum need to be planned to enable greater pupil choice and autonomy: they need to have more control over what they study and how they learn. Our teachers have spent the last few weeks thinking hard about how such a curriculum will work in their subjects. In line with the College’s teaching and learning focus this academic year, there will be an emphasis on retrieval, elaboration and consolidation to ensure that learning is embedded.
The way in which concepts are explained or introduced needs to be adjusted for online learning. In a classroom, the efficacy of instruction or ‘board work’ depends to a large extent on a teacher ‘reading’ the room in front of them; this is clearly not possible in an online context. Instead, a range of different strategies are required. We will use live explanation and modelling, as well as our own pre-recorded videos and worked examples. Equally, where appropriate, we will make use of examples from other sources in order to vary the method of instruction. The remodelled timetable builds in opportunities for classes to come together to receive live instruction or modelled activities on a regular basis, and ongoing curriculum planning and development will ensure that there are lots of resources and tutorials for pupils to make use of at their own pace.
Assessment and feedback look very different in an online context. Teachers rely on tacit, non-verbal cues, alongside their knowledge of pupils, to inform assessment on an ongoing basis, as well as at more formal assessment points. Whilst formal assessment points can be transferred online, the most effective ways to assess pupils on an ongoing basis are regular 1:1 or small group discussions. Our distance learning programme allows for these discussions to take place, either in timetabled lessons or during pre-arranged tutorials.
Pupils need to take a greater level of responsibility for reflecting on their learning in an online context. We need them to reflect on what they have found difficult and why; we need them to think about how they can overcome challenges; we need them to consider how they can review and recap some of their learning. In order to support this reflection, all pupils in Years 7 – 9 are being asked to keep a Lockdown Learning Journal which will be monitored by their tutor. When pupils meet with tutors during the pre-lunch tutor meetings, these journals will provide a basis for discussion. In an environment in which pupils are learning in new ways, it will be helpful for them to think about how they are learning differently. Tutors will help pupils reflect on their learning and how effectively they are using their journals.