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Strategic planning for online learning
Strategic planning for online learning

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3 Building capacity and resilience and supporting wellbeing

Research shows that pupils require three kinds of support for online learning (Moore and Kearsley, 1996). The first is academic support, which is usually offered by the teachers and experts. It's a very specialised kind of support that focuses on the content, expertise and knowledge within the domain of study.

The second mode of support pupils require is technical support. This is increasingly evident as technology becomes more prevalent, and as we rely on it more. Sometimes the support is low level and can be addressed through the technology itself. Many online platforms such as VLEs display Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) sections that can be updated regularly as technical issues arise and fixes are found. Sometimes the problem is simple - a forgotten password for example - but occasionally the problem is more complex, so the support of a IT specialist may be required.

A photograph of two people looking at a laptop.
Figure 5: Building capacity and resilience and supporting wellbeing

The third mode of support required is emotional and social support. Pupils are human, and experience emotional highs and lows, and life happens. As in the face-to-face classroom, pupils will need some encouragement or a listening ear.

All of the above supports are usually offered by teachers and support staff, but increasingly, as online communities of learning develop, pupils within the class help each other in a mutual support system. Enabling this kind of informal, behind the scenes support to flourish may be crucial to the success of online learning (Moore and Kearsley, 1996).

Integrating technology within the curriculum can give pupils greater autonomy, and it also encourages more in-depth learning. See below for an example of a maths activity which also enhances employability.

The teacher filmed a property that was for sale by auction. The teacher walked around the property and filmed room by room. The film was then uploaded to Padlet (an online noticeboard tool) (Padlet, 2021). Pupils were asked to work together to renovate the property using Padlet as a collaborative tool to share resources relating to building regulations and costs; budgets and calculating costs, designs for extensions and planning building works. Three pupils who were busy, gathered around a screen were quite animated and very focused on the task in hand and at first, the teacher assumed from the excitement that they were playing a computer game. The teacher saw they were using Minecraft, which confirmed the assumption. But the assumption was wrong. They explained that they had taken the measurements of the entire property (property, outbuildings, grounds etc) and were recreating a scale model in Minecraft. They explained they had taken a lot of time to ensure the length, height and width of each building, the ratio of the buildings in relation to each other, and taken into account the angles and the dimensions. They had to understand the function of each room, and the circulation spaces between the rooms and buildings. They had to find out about the history of the property, how it had been built and with what materials it was constructed. They had to understand the plan, elevations and other architectural mathematics of the entire property.

The teacher asked them what they had learnt so far. 'Not much' they said, 'but it's fun and we've been doing this for a few weeks now'. As an observer, the teacher could see that the three pupils had learnt more than they realised. They were just 'having fun', but they were learning by stealth, and what they were learning was cross-curricular, covering several subject areas. This would have been much more difficult, if not impossible to do, had they not had access to the digital tools and support from each other. If this is related to TPACK, you can see that the teacher called upon all three domains of my knowledge - content, pedagogy and technological - to set up a project that exploited the technology to promote active, engaged and productive learning.

Activity 3

Timing: 25 minutes

Following on from your previous work on scenario planning [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , you now need to develop (write, draw, create) two scenarios for building competencies in your school. In one you envisage your school responding positively to the change factors for developing the digital environment (the positive scenario); in the other you envisage your school failing to respond or responding in a negative way (the negative scenario). This will move you on in developing your digital strategy.

After you have described and elaborated on (and perhaps drawn) your scenario as much as you can, think about the decisions you would need to take as a School Leader if you were operating in the world described in your scenario.

Here is an example of positive and negative scenario planning for building capacity.

As a result of developing your scenarios and reflecting on them, what key actions need to be taken at your school?

Add these to your Action grid (only use this link if you haven’t already downloaded the file).