The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

Delivering Curriculum Online  

Considering the events of the past month, it is realistic to imagine that working from home could suddenly be mandated for an entire workforce. This begs the question, are we ready for such a change or does it mean that businesses, education and social interaction will be significantly compromised?  There is no doubt it will be disrupted, but whether we can still maintain a similar standard of living remains to be seen. History tells us that humans have the capacity to adapt and evolve in a very short  period of time  but is this change too significant to achieve in such a small window? 

This concept of forced change has given me the opportunity to think about how Scotch would deliver curriculum remotely and, to be honest, the ease at which the plan came together is somewhat comforting. Scotch has for a long time, been well prepared to deliver curriculum online and I am confident our staff have the skills to do this tomorrow. Examples of what we already do on a day-to-day basis means remote education, like universities, are a reality for schools and can be achieved even down to our younger years.  

We have a long list of online capabilities; 

  • Resources/videos shared through SEQTA learn and Seesaw/Showbie
  • Feedback online
  • Lesson delivery through OneNote
  • Online interactive textbooks
  • MathSpace / Mathletics
  • Cognity
  • Online Scotch library 
  • Clickview
  • Reading Eggs

What seems to be missing is the social interaction that makes communication quick and easy. In a classroom, teachers  have the ability to  address issues with conceptual understanding in an efficient manner whilst also supervising behaviour, monitoring work completion and building a positive rapport that makes learning engaging for students. Can we simulate this same environment whilst in isolation and working from home? 

Over the past four days, our entire staff have received professional development on the protocol to follow in the event of school closure and the use of specific collaborative technology that would promote better delivery of curriculum online. In the Senior, Middle and Year 5 cohorts,  Microsoft Teams  will be used in conjunction with SEQTA learn to create classes where students can collaborate in real time, post questions, access resources and conference call from home. It's user friendly, and in a short time frame both staff and students have become comfortable with its features. In Junior School, Showbie will continue to be the way in which teachers share the learning with students and parents.

The other aspect of considering school closure is making sure that everyone is aware of exactly what to do at short notice. Having consistency across classes and year groups means that operations can be managed by staff and easily followed by students and parents. It would be expected that the boys start the school day dressed into their sports uniform ready to attend their first online class by 8:50 am. However, being online for 6 hours a day wouldn't be an effective learning environment, nor a particularly healthy one either. In the event of school closure, boys would only be expected to attend lessons online periods 1 through to 4, using periods 5 and 6 to work independently on the set work. Each timetabled period would begin by  opening up  their class on Teams to register their attendance. This allows the teacher to record who is present on SEQTA so that usual protocol for notifying parents of absence can occur. Following this, the teacher can instruct students on how the learning will proceed, with the teacher remaining online to answer any questions and provide support for the duration of the lesson. Boys can continue to post questions later in the day; however, the teacher may not reply immediately since they have other classes, or they are working to create resources. To ensure accountability, students would be expected to upload their weekly work to SEQTA, so teachers are able to monitor progress and let parents know if their son is not meeting the requirements.

Although this system is yet be tried remotely, it provides parents, students and staff with reassurance that the school could close tomorrow, and learning can continue. Disruption leads to opportunity and I am confident that our College is well placed to manage the current disruption and hopefully recognise opportunities for the future of education as a result.

For further information regarding Scotch College guidelines for school closure, please visit the website