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Across the world, schools have shown exceptional resilience in dealing with the disruption of Covid19. Many techniques have been tried, that have enabled schools to deliver teaching and learning while their entire population is operating remotely.
An abundance of online platforms are available to support transactional online learning. Mostly implemented to support a school’s online homework policy, these tools have come into their own in recent months, supporting schools to deliver teaching and learning despite school closure.
Already, though, many schools have begun to have an existential realisation. Teaching and learning are only part of the picture – and Covid19 has demonstrated that the next big challenge will be around finding ways to get the whole school into the cloud. A virtual school that addresses not just remote teaching and learning, but also the big areas of wellbeing, safeguarding, extra-curricular life, channels for leadership and the very fabric of the school community.
For International Schools - who suffer not only from the effects of our once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic but from ongoing, unpredictable risks associated with unseen regional calamities, environmental disasters and political upheaval – the need to provide the whole school in virtual form is one of business continuity.
Frog has been moving schools to the cloud for nearly twenty years and has always championed a holistic approach to online schooling. Simon O’Grady, Head Teacher of The Edron Academy in Mexico, was keen to get his school safely into the cloud, a motivation which came before COVID19.
Three years’ ago, Mexico City suffered a massive earthquake and schools were closed for several weeks. Investment in Frog gave The Edron Academy its virtual school, giving teachers, students and parents a powerful platform called Edron Home Learning. In building this platform, three elements were vital for extended virtual learning: a focus on blended learning; an integration of extra-curricular activities; and an emphasis on wellbeing.
Blended is Best
Pedagogically, Frog is a self-contained virtual sphere and a link to other platforms, enabling a mix of live and recorded lessons, with links to interactive subject software. This keeps learning engaging and varied. Teachers can focus on individual needs by timetabling small group support sessions. Parents can oversee their children’s work without the burden that home schooling often brings.
Keep it moving
Away from school, children become more physically inactive: longer screen time, irregular sleep, and less favourable diets. Without activities and the interaction with friends, the negative effects on health are greater. Isolation breeds frustration and boredom. Lack of contact with classmates and teachers has enduring effects on mood and attitude. And the normal separation of spheres, school and home, suddenly abandoned, invades a child's personal space and sense of freedom.
Frog has helped to construct social solutions of a virtual nature. Edron activity providers give home-based exercise which all the family can do. Regular live lessons give Edron children a friendly face and some semblance of school.
Well-being is the way
Whilst the academic and pastoral welfare of children has been the first focus of schools, the needs of parents, teachers and wider staff must not be overlooked. Mindful of the needs of all staff and parents, Frog is used to promote online activities, share useful articles and bring the community together. Three years’ ago, the earthquake fractured the Edron community. Three years’ on, Frog has given the school a strong framework for action and the means of bringing together all parts of the community.
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