Dave Love, Curriculum Manager at Warrington & Vale Royal College tells us what it’s like working and teaching from home because of the coronavirus.
The world has seen some unprecedented times and people have almost instantly had to adjust their daily lives. We have seen frontline staff stand up and put themselves at risk to care for us, key workers keeping the country ticking over and teachers redesigning curriculums with no notice to ensure students get the very best opportunity to maintain their education.
This is my story about how my team has adapted to teaching from home.
Week Two – ‘We are in this together’
So Week 2 has come and gone. During this week it has been much of the same for us.
We have been working through teething problems on our VLE. We also had issues with PDF and Word documents so changed documents to Google Docs to make it easier for students to complete work.
Using Google Docs has its benefits over other types of documents. This change allows students to complete work using their phone much easier. For example they can use their finger as a stylus and write on the document.
The biggest surprise this week is collaboration. I have seen the industry come together and start looking at sharing resources.
SPARKS Magazine has a Lecturer Forum on Facebook. In this forum, lecturers can share ideas, resources, hints and tips etc. It’s a great place to collaborate during these difficult times.
Why create something if someone else already has something great? If you have not yet joined the forum please do so today and start communicating with your peers. We are in this together.
Week One – Engaging with students
When the news broke out that we were to close colleges and staff had to work from home, we all very quickly had to come up with new teaching, learning, assessment and communication methods to ensure our students still maintain the opportunity of an education.
We decided to use Google Classroom as our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The rationale for this is simple: it is extremely simple to use, students without access to a computer can still view, review and submit via their phone and using the “Stream” communication tool means we can communicate with all students very easily.
Staff worked tirelessly over the weekend to ensure there were enough rescores and assignments to keep the learners engaged and maintain their progress. The team made the decision to issue small but frequent tasks to keep the learners engaged without big gaps in-between.
Monday came and from the very start, we started to see learner interaction via the VLE; asking questions, wanting work to complete and submitting work instantly. Admittedly this was a small proportion of the learners, to begin with.
We held our first full team meeting at 10am via Google Meet. This was to discuss that morning and any learners who needed contacting, who have not signed on or engaged with us.
These meetings were held every morning so we could really understand and acknowledge what actions we needed to undertake. It wasn’t smooth we had issues with Google Classroom not assigning assignments to the whole group, problems with PDF uploads and students seeing their feedback.
A lot of the week was spent ironing out problems with systems to make it as smooth for the learners as possible. As the week progressed we chased, communicated and adapted and saw some phenomenal engagement from students.
I see my staff more now than I did when at work full time! But overall, a very tough week. Let’s see how Week Two goes.