How to implement and embed outstanding online learning

Posted on 2nd November 2020

Posted by CENTURY

The British School of Barcelona (BSB) offers an all-round international approach to students’ learning and development from 3 to 18 years of age. This year BSB is rolling out a new programme to equip all students from Year 3 to Year 11 (from 7 to 15 years of age) with their own personal laptop or iPad for online learning both in school and at home.

BSB transitioned to online learning on March 13th. The leadership team were active in their research of teaching and learning tools that further enhanced the school’s online offer. They wanted to ensure that whatever system they introduced complemented and enhanced their high-level of teaching and interaction with students. As a result of these requirements, BSB began using CENTURY at the end of April, after an intense period of training and professional development.

Emma Overton, Head of Early Years and Primary at BSB Castelldefels, spoke with us about the ways in which they have implemented CENTURY over the past months, across all school campuses. We spoke of the valuable impact CENTURY had on the BSB students and how this led them to begin creating a long-term teaching structure that includes CENTURY. “I think if I were to summarise it, I would say CENTURY came in as an additional learning methodology but now we recognise its potential, and we are working to integrate it into our school curriculum wherever it enhances or adds value to a subject area”, says Emma.

What has been your approach to using education technology?

Technology has become a fundamental part of education, not only as the vehicle to deliver great teaching and learning, but as a platform for collaboration and productivity. We witness first-hand the positive impact technology can have on continuing outstanding learning in and beyond the physical classroom.

As fears of further Covid-related restrictions continue, Cognita, the international educational group BSB is part of, has started to roll out a programme to equip all students in Year 3 and above in its 55 schools in Europe with their own personal digital device. This education transformation programme, the implementation of which Cognita is funding, involves over 12,000 digital devices being distributed to students in the UK, Spain and Switzerland in the coming weeks and months. 

This is part of a longer-term digital strategy which started back in 2018 at BSB. With a constant focus on making teaching and learning at BSB the best it can be, we have been prioritising the development of our students’ wider learning habits and skills, this includes technological fluency.

The introduction of new 1:1 devices for students has provided a consistent and fair, standardised approach to learning that ensures access to technology if we go into confinement again. We have focused our attention on ensuring the platforms we use allow as much synchronicity as possible, allowing a constant flow of communication between student and teacher. 

What led you to bring software such as CENTURY into your school?

Within weeks of starting our online teaching, we undertook research into online tools which would enable a continuum of learning and progress, whilst obtaining high levels of analysis and the ability to provide students with feedback. The systems we had in place worked well as an online tool from the classroom, but something more sophisticated was the next step for us when the students were fully online and working from home.

Once we joined the CENTURY meetings, we realised it would work well alongside our curriculum offer. We needed to make sure we were introducing a technology that was offering the same quality that existed through our direct learning.

How has the use of technology transformed your approach to online learning?

It has enabled us to become consistent. We have cloud-based platforms – the Microsoft 365 package – and in primary this is also complemented with more child-friendly elearning portfolio platforms, such as Seesaw and Tapestry, to maintain a strong connection with parents. Microsoft Teams is predominantly used in Secondary to set assignments, upload work, and communicate with students.

It has been quite a seamless transition as students are now able to combine the use of their phone and computer to keep information in one place. We were delighted to be the first school in Spain to receive devices from Cognita; now, it is as if we never worked without them. 

How did you advance the use of a new technology at an already uncertain time within the school?

We found the best way to go about implementing new technology is to find a champion on the ground. This needed to be someone who was experiencing the journey, has high expectations of themselves and the students, and who is a strong team member within a teaching group. On each campus we were able to identify a champion who took part in all of the training and planning sessions.

We approached our students and parents with this new system by sending out the initial letter that CENTURY produced. Following that, every week we would create a newsletter and video for our parents to talk about our recent advances in online learning so that they could see our continuous reviewing and improvement. We started the trial in Year 5 and then moved it into Year 6. It moved at a rate of knots once we started. 

Do you think this year’s situation accelerated the adoption and implementation of technology into your school?

Yes, and once you begin the learning pathways with CENTURY it is very intuitive and the students progress at different rates along a variety of pathways. For our teachers who enjoyed managing the steps of learning with their class, it was an eye opener as CENTURY’s learning is so personalised. Nevertheless, it was great for us, in the sense that we really could personalise the learning journey for our students.

Our main focus, having returned to school in September, is how we can best maximise the integration of CENTURY into our school curriculum.

How do you see CENTURY being used moving forward?

We want to give it a real sense of purpose and place within our curriculum moving forward. We began the conversation by considering lesson structure and what a lesson would look like if it were being delivered using CENTURY. From here, we decided we would trial, for the first term, one lesson per week in English and Math delivered through CENTURY. We have adapted the lesson structure to fit this: the assignment will be set, nuggets will be specified, the teacher will personalise it with additional activities, and then there will be a cluster review. 

Moving forward, we are focusing on how to commence the use of CENTURY with our younger years. Key staff members in other year groups have been closely following the developments of CENTURY integration, so that come January, they can start a similar lesson structure as the Upper Key Stage Two year groups. We are still looking at ways to use it with the younger students, in Year 3, who do not speak English as their first language. 

In secondary, the leadership team also takes a measured approach to ensure the tool is synchronised and complements the current curriculum offer in maths and English. Department Heads are working together to find the best fit model.

How has the use of this technology helped your staff?

It has helped our teachers consider what their lesson structure looks like. We want to make sure we are applying CENTURY in a way that supports our broader strategy and priorities within the school so that it works with our teaching and learning model, rather than the other way around. I think if I were to summarise it, I would say CENTURY came in as an additional learning methodology but now we recognise its potential, and we are working to integrate it into our school curriculum wherever it enhances or adds value to a subject area.

It has also introduced the capability to switch between consolidation of learning and flipped learning. Teachers can choose to identify consolidation for learning that has already taken place in school, or they can flip the learning, so the students have access to the nuggets before the teaching of the following weeks.

To find out more about how CENTURY can help your school, book a demo with our team.

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