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

Reflections on ILT and COVID-19

Scotch College is a leading school of technology integration into its teaching and learning programmes.

Our commitment is to using technology appropriately, training its teachers in new pedagogies that integrate technology and developing skills in students to be better learners in an ever-changing world. The staff and students are well versed in a variety of technologies and learning within these environments. Our staff have built capacity and are adaptable. So, we should be prepared for any contingency, shouldn't we?

This was tested after an impromptu phone call from the Headmaster and a request to come and join a meeting.

"What would we do if staff and students had to isolate?"

Two days later was the first of six full days of professional development programmes scheduled to give every teacher opportunity to attend during breaks in their ongoing teaching workload. Those programmes reflected on which technologies would allow face-to-face contact, textual communication, and support individual meetings, reflecting a classroom experience but for students spread far and wide. The Teaching and Learning team structured a teaching programme on the existing timetable to support good learning outcomes, while limiting student screen time and giving them opportunity to work in different scenarios exercising their own self-management. Daily tasks were developed with clear learning intentions and weekly uploads provided formative evidence of task completion. The Pastoral team established daily contact points with students to maintain their wellbeing and to support their sense of community and connectedness. Frequent one-to-one teacher contact during classes provided further support for learning and wellbeing. It was important that technology was not just a delivery tool, but a robust mechanism to support a learning culture and social connectedness.

Each sub-school approached teaching in isolation from their own unique standpoint, but all were driven by the strong collegiality between technology integration, teaching and learning and pastoral care. Each resulted in programmes that best delivered the education and support needs of their student cohort.

Feedback from our stakeholders indicates Scotch College transitioned to the new unprecedented world very effectively. Staff and students moved quickly into the new teaching environment. Many teachers had to adapt their teaching approaches for isolation, and these have since been refined and retained as new classroom practice. Some students thrived in this environment, given freedom in the day to organise their learning effort and focus, taking on more responsibility and relying on their own self-management.

The learning technology communities across many schools have reported their shared experience – the speed, driven by necessity, with which technology was adopted and adapted into teaching was staggering. Their common goal now is to avoid 'snapback' – a return to how it was – associating those positive outcomes with the isolation, rather than good teaching practice.

Our successful outcomes during the COVID-19 isolation was not about the technology; it was not about the integration team; it was all about Scotch College's long-held commitment to integrating technology solely to enrich the teaching and learning journey of every student. It is because the College has a clear vision for learning, has technology platforms that are familiar and utilised, and has invested in capacity building.

Dr Nick Spadaccini
ILT Curriculum Integration Manager