Educating in the times of Covid-19
The current global pandemic has caught everyone by surprise, plunging them into a deep and serious social, human, political and economic crisis. The schools and educational activity are not exempt to the terrible impact of this virus: it has affected us deeply.
Overnight, without wanting or waiting for it, we have found ourselves with empty classrooms and teaching from a distance to students that you do not see, located in strange spaces for learning, without the possibility of directly calling attention anyone, correcting or rebuking, nor congratulating or motivating for learning.
Suddenly and with nostalgia we long for those environments of noise and bustle, of physical presence. Because teachers are also lost, surprised and sometimes wanting to recover as soon as possible the normality of the imperious and stressful hustle and bustle that was better than the terrible silence and emptiness of lack of contact or direct communication.
At the Colegio San Agustín of the Augustinian Recollects in Valladolid, thank God, it hasn't caught us empty-handed. We have been for some years using more innovative educational technology, which has allowed us to live gracefully when facing this surprising and unusual situation, which has forced us to rethink everything.
We try to maintain normal daily routines and were students do not lose the habit of study and work. It has gone from face- to- face classes to virtual ones, from activities and exercises in the classroom and the blackboard to studies, topics and explanations from the Internet. We have for this thousand applications that arise and the possibilities that come with it.
Do you learn more? Or even, do you learn something? Is it better or worse? Time will reveal it to us, but it is true that it supposes a before and an after, that the chalk is already overcome and that it is time for a different type of education, taking into account the new horizon of the student's involvement with their future work activity, face-to-face or not.
What do the parents say? Well, there is everything: some are grateful that the School was prepared after several years of using tablets with students, a pioneer in our region of an educational system that has fostered good teacher-student monitoring at a distance.
Of course it is not the same, but the circumstances are imposed and it has been a lucky and very positive experience to have already tested and well managed in advance the means to educate virtually, without teachers and students getting away from the curriculum and development of the subjects.
How do we do it? Well, we continue with the routine of school hours. Teachers contact students and families through Office 365 and Classroom Management platforms to offer the classes.
Sometimes we have live teaching in real time; in other cases, prerecorded video is used. For interaction with the student and the performance of exercises and activities, the controls are provided by applications such as: Forms, Sway, Teams, OneNote...
With virtual and distance methods, Primary students have already taken the exams for the second evaluation; Secondary assessment meetings and meetings of the pedagogical departments and management teams have been held entirely online.
What are the means we use? Teachers and students follow the classes and training activities through Office 365 tools, developed by Microsoft, a technological partner at Colegio San Agustín. They are as follows:
- Teams: application for teamwork, group communication, task management and file storage. It allows you to manage documents and applications collaboratively and work with different work teams, create classes, projects... It is useful for the communication of teachers with students, students with teachers and teachers with teachers.
- OneNote: encourages the creativity of the student, who chooses how to work with this application. Let’s you write both by computer and by hand, helps teachers organize lessons and course content in digital notebooks and share it with other teachers. It is prepared for content of all kinds: videos, websites, audios ... This way, more personalized lessons are made that capture the attention of the students. Each student has within OneNote a personal space, a task library and a connection space with the other classmates to collaborate instantly on their own device.
- OneDrive - cloud storage for instant multi- device use.
- Great : creating lively and interactive presentations, either through predesigned templates and galleries, as well as with own or external content.
- Sway : Create online multi- device presentations that integrate videos and other Office tools; Up to 10 profiles can collaborate at the same time in creating, editing and managing the presentation.
- Forms : it allows surveys and evaluation exercises, questions, exams, questions whose answers can be observed in real time.
- Flipgrid : it is the application of collaborative social learning, since it consists of activities that are answered through videos of up to 5 minutes available to everyone in the environment.
- PowerPoint: allows you to create and share interactive lessons, being able to add any annotation to the slide when it is being taught.
- Stream : repository and organization of securely managed online videos.
- SharePoint: Intranet in the cloud that allows teams to create pages for themselves and for the rest of the School.