eLearning: raising attainment and extending learning opportunities
In a world where technology and digital resources are engrained into our day-to-day routines, it’s not surprising that a majority of schools have also adopted this way of working to add value to the classroom and students’ learning opportunities. One such example is George Green’s School, on the Isle of Dogs, which has a long and successful history of providing an excellent education for young people. Here, Jennifer Surujpaul, head of computing faculty and eLearning at the school, explains how eLearning tools have helped raise attainment at George Green’s, and enhanced effective teaching both in and outside the classroom.
At George Green’s, eLearning is regarded as a complementary resource which runs alongside classroom learning. It’s so important for us to be able to encourage pupils to become high achieving, independent learners who reach their full potential. Therefore, when we were given the ‘notice to improve’ status from Ofsted back in 2009, we decided that, as part of the school’s development strategy, we would invest in a number of resources, including homework and online revision resource, SAM Learning.
Both the staff and students have really got on board and understand the value of eLearning resources and how much they can help extend the learning opportunities when it comes to exam preparation and improving general attainment. Being the head of computing faculty and eLearning, I’ve worked alongside the various departments, encouraging them to use eLearning within their lessons and making sure everyone is really getting the most out of it.
It was really important for us that teachers be able to customise and create their own activities based on students’ abilities or for specific topics they’re learning in class. For the KS3 end of term set test, we actually used SAM Learning to create our own tailor-made tests for the students and had some really positive results.
Of course, the main focus of the resource is to aid the students’ learning, but we’re reaping the rewards as staff too. For example, the automatic marking element dramatically reduces the time it would usually take to manually go through every individual’s homework sheet. Setting homework online has also helped school budgets; we no longer have to print out 20 worksheets every time we want to set homework or provide them with revision hand-outs. When we did the end of term test, this time round it was a lot smoother, and it saved us time and money in terms of the creation and marking.
The motto at George Green’s is, ‘Aspiration, Equality, Excellence’, and using a combination of resources certainly helps us to establish this ethos and significantly improve students’ learning. It’s not just a tool for revision purposes; teachers can actively evaluate the overall effectiveness of students’ work using the reporting feature. Being able to track attainment instantly on a regular basis means we can monitor when homework is completed and how students are getting on. It’s valuable because it means we can keep an eye on any challenges they’re facing with particular topics, how many times they’ve completed an activity and then, using this data, we can suggest other activities that can help them improve their results. The general consensus among staff is that it’s quick, easy and efficient to use both in the classroom and when setting homework tasks.
The fact that we can tailor the resource for each class, or even to specific individuals, means that every student is able to benefit, and really learn from the tasks we’re setting.
But it’s not just the classroom results which have been positive. We’ve definitely seen a much higher rate of homework being returned, in comparison to paper-based tasks. Managing tasks through an online resource has meant our teachers are able to set activities instantly, and students are then able to access it easily from wherever they are. Incorporating it into their daily routine - which often includes various digital platforms and technologies – makes it simple for them and seems to make them a lot more willing to use it independently away from the classroom, be that in the study hall after school for revision, or at home in their spare time.
Providing them with a resource that fits into their own busy schedules, that they can simply log into has definitely helped to improve their exam results and gives them the empowerment and independence to improve their own grades. It also gives them the motivation to achieve when there’s a bit of healthy competition amongst classmates!
Since implementing resources like SAM Learning back in 2009, we’ve now been rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted, demonstrating our commitment to high standard teaching and learning and this is something we will continue to push, allowing our students to reach their full potential.