The Isle of Man Government is working closely with schools to help teachers use technology to offer the best possible education whilst children are unable to attend face-to-face classes.
The Department of Education, Sport and Culture acknowledges concerns from parents and is accelerating new ways to deliver online teaching and remote learning.
The Department’s recommended IT platform is Itslearning which allows teachers to engage with pupils and provide feedback on work submitted from home. It also enables learning and support to be targeted where most needed. Schools have been developing more ‘interactive’ platforms, whilst also using their websites to keep parents up to date of developments with exams, information regarding transition points, and posting activities and projects that, where possible, closely mirror the planned curriculum.
Teachers have been encouraged to use apps such as Microsoft Teams to deliver online lessons and record instructional clips for pupils, which hopefully go some way to alleviating concerns of parents and bridge gaps alluded to with regards face-to-face teaching.
Schools have also been encouraged to loan devices such as iPads to households who may be struggling to access the teaching and resources being made available. This is alongside exploring how we can enable greater broadband coverage for disadvantaged families, or families who may have to retain their children at home for longer periods due to continued shielding from the virus.
Dr Alex Allinson MHK, Minister for Education, Sport and Culture, said:
‘It has to be acknowledged that schools closed unexpectedly and that they have had to adapt as quickly. The long-term plans of head teachers to develop more opportunities for remote learning have had to be accelerated and new ways of teaching and supporting pupils developed and shared. Schools have developed online solutions at the same time as delivering a front-facing service for vulnerable pupils and those of key workers – in essence creating two formats for the delivery of lessons.’
The Department’s Education Improvement Service (EIS) is aware that there are varying types, styles and amounts of remote/online learning being provided by schools, and has offered substantial support and guidance to ensure a greater degree of consistency over the past eight weeks.
Dr Allinson, continued:
‘I hope this offers some reassurance to parents who have signed the recent petition. Teachers are having to formulate responses very dynamically to an ever-evolving situation. The department hopes that attendance at school can be expanded as soon as is safe to do so and that as many pupils as possible will be able to re-gain access to ‘face-to-face’ lessons.'
If parents are experiencing difficulty in supporting their children whilst at home, or feel dissatisfied with either the volume or quality of remote learning provided, they are advised to seek guidance from their school’s leaders and teachers who are either active in hubs, or developing remote provision whilst working remotely.