Many reports over the past few months revealed attainment gaps have steadily grown since the pandemic began, including in FE. It’s clear that students have suffered from changes to schooling norms, now closures and online lessons may be sprung upon them at any time.
Although this adaption has been difficult, rather than a crutch edtech has proven to help teachers thrive, and with them, their students too.
Here, Michael Wilkinson, managing director of video learning resource platform ClickView, explores how edtech is providing the secret to closing this growing attainment gap, when coupled with government funding and support.
Allow students to learn at their own pace
The pandemic has emphasised the importance of letting students learn at their own pace: something we can continue to do as we recover. Encouraging students to consider what is most helpful to their own learning, rather than compare their progress to others or compete. In this way they can focus on what they need to succeed.
When we support students to learn at their own pace, we take another step towards tailoring educational resources to learning needs. This shift in narrative will help to close attainment gaps because it will encourage students to seek out the support they need.
Videos are a great way to ensure this. A student can rewatch an educational video as many times as they need to, before or after it is shown in class. They can rewind and revisit the moments of the video that are most crucial for their learning or replay the entire clip as many times as is helpful to their needs.
This also helps to take a focus away from grades, which might demotivate or place more stress onto students. Instead, they can focus on what they’re interested in and what they need to learn. Curriculum aligned videos can give the teacher the ability to see which videos each student has watched and for how long. Insights from interactive quizzes can in turn provide feedback on any additional learning support requirements.
Utilise data insights
The beauty of using edtech in learning is not just because of the content nor student’s engagement, that’s a given. For the teacher it’s more about the data insights that can inform future lesson plans and helping to identify students who may need more dedicated support.
This data can help teachers identify how many students completed the task, where they struggled, which questions were a tremendous success and where knowledge gaps may exist within the class.
This information is important because it can inform future lessons and, which in turn, particularly that the moment, can help to close attainment gaps.
Utilise the pandemic to showcase real world implications of your subject
The pandemic can be used to showcase how important your subject is to the world. From the most clearly related subjects like science (creation of vaccinations), to fashion (distribution of PPE), media (coverage of the pandemic), politics (political reactions and policies), history (how this outbreak compared to those throughout history), and so on. You can apply real life situations to learning to make it more interesting and engaging.
You might want to bring in news clips to make the connection between a specific learning objective and a real life news report on the subject. For example in discussions around the pandemic, you might want to play Jacinda Ardern’s speech when New Zealand had record low cases due in part to her policies as well as many other successes across her country. This can further help to inspire your students.
Offer autonomous extension tasks
Of course, every teacher wants their students to feel like professionals in their field and push the boundaries of learning. A good way to secure this is to offer extension tasks with no defined limit. If students would like to lose themselves in learning, they could research your extension topic as much as they wish and may go outside to deliver experiments and see how theories they learn relate to their environment.
This also helps to build a strong community within your institution. Working within a shared workspace will help to cement this, where all students can see the exciting projects others are working on. They can then share their resources and findings so others can add to what they have created and collaborate online, even if students can’t physically work together as they did previously.
No matter the challenges a student faces, they should all have access to top quality educational resources. This, coupled with government funding and support to tackle the problem, will give many millions of young people a fighting chance to restore their education. FE leaders can take many steps to ensure that happens for their students.
Michael Wilkinson, Managing Director, ClickView