Stiftelsens skolchef Kristy Lundström analyserar de enkätsvar vi fått in från elever, lärare och föräldrar om den lärarledda digitala distansundervisningen. Vilka utmaningar har vi hanterat? Vad återstår att arbeta med? Vad tar vi med oss tillbaka till den vanliga undervisningen?

2020-06-16

As our school year ends, systematic and active reflections begin. This has been an extraordinary term. At one point all of our seven schools were working with teacher-led, online learning. With only two days of intense preparation, we literally “jumped in the deep end” to reach our students at home – where they were during the global pandemic of Covid-19. Now, after the end-of-year ceremonies and graduation celebrations (which we were so happy to be able to have IRL), we are carefully reviewing and analyzing – how did it go? In general, we are satisfied with the transition, the quality of learning in our online classrooms and the final results of the term. However, this was a sudden and unexpected demand to “shift” for all of us. Our task as a school is always to ensure safety for our students and a good learning environment. During this term, that task has been even bigger than just thinking about what is happening inside our schools. We were all affected by the “bigger picture”. The following article is a first look at some of the things we have learned along the way.

To gather data for this analysis, we surveyed all students and parents to measure how they “experienced” online learning. The surveys were distributed during the last two weeks of April for VRS schools (högstadiet) and the first two weeks of May for VRG schools (gymnasiet). We had a response rate of around 68% of students and 44% of parents. We also monitored attendance carefully every day. We had weekly check-ins with individual staff members. And, we have done workshops with staff to walk through all of the social, academic and structural aspects of learning in our schools during teacher-led, online learning.

From the parents

We received nearly overwhelmingly positive feedback. 1 = completely disagree, 5 = completely agree

We also asked for qualitative feedback in the form of comments:

“Jag tycker att länkundervisningen fungerade otroligt bra och är väldigt positiv till att använda liknande upplägg även framöver. Utmärkt med uppgifter som skulle göras på lektionerna för att få sin exitbiljett. Effektiviteten i lärandet på lektionstid ökade genom att saker var tvungna att bli klara (kanske något att försöka ta med till IRL-skolan.) Det blev också väldigt god arbetsro genom länkarbetet” -VRS parent

We could see there was variation – our approach to online learning worked better for some students than others. We asked parents to give three words that describe VR Schools during this period of online learning. The following is a collage of what words were given. The larger words were the ones mentioned most often.

 

From the students

1 = completely disagree, 5 = completely agree

The feedback from students differed somewhat. We saw a larger variation in “what worked for me.” During this period, teachers sought informal feedback from their students each week. They updated their methods accordingly. They incorporated more activities “during the class” – seminars in smaller groups, breakout discussions both online and in written form, projects with online partners and guest lecturers were just a few of the ways our teachers varied the learning for our students. We were reminded that student input and adaptation of activities was just as important as when we are in the regular classroom. We also learned that clarity of procedure and instructions is even more important when you are learning in an online environment.

Many students in VRS schools (högstadiet) found “focus” to be difficult to maintain.

VRS students found workload to be fair. 

VRG students had very different opinions from their parents about the workload

We read carefully the many helpful comments from students. Here are a few snapshots:

“Det var väldigt bra med google meet och jag tyckte det var bra att det var enklare att få hjälp om man behövde. Hjälp kom även snabbt eftersom lärare inte behövde gå fram till eleven utan snarare bara förklara direkt”.

“Vi fick betydligt mer jobb än vad vi hade i skolan. Man fick ofta göra saker efter skoltid även om man hade arbetat aktivt på lektionerna. Det var som om alla lärare tänkte att dom är ju ändå bara hemma så dom kan göra det efter skolan”.

“Jag kan bara säga bra saker om distansundervisning. Nu har jag inga distraktioner såsom att klasskamrater pratar under lektioner eller liknande som det kan vara i skolan vilket stör mig, när jag är hemma kan jag koncentrera mig mycket bättre och jag får mer gjort. Det är även tydligare instruktioner nu och de är nedskrivna ifall man glömmer bort vad man ska göra till skillnad från fysisk undervisning. Jag behöver inte heller ta mig till skolan varje dag vilket tar 30 min så jag sparar massa tid och energi”.

“Svårt att säga – allt är väldigt nytt för alla. Svårt med de estetiska lektionerna, jag tycker man förlorar väldigt mycket under denna period i just de ämnena vilket är tråkigt eftersom de är de roligaste. “

From the teachers

Within our teacher teams, we can see several positive developments:
– Students who were often more reserved in a traditional classroom setting were more active in online discussions
– Clarity of instructions was key
– Ability to speak to/engage with every student every lesson
– Opportunity to get to know more about students because they were in their home environment. We met parents, siblings, pets… It felt like we got to know each other better
– Oral assessment was more effective and more efficient
– It felt more natural to personalize the assignments and tasks for individual students. Easier to do when the accomodations were not as “obvious” as in the traditional classroom
– Very good attendance and no reported incidents of bullying

There were also real challenges:
– We struggled to stay connected to some students. They would log off at the break and not come back.
– Academic honesty was a real challenge, we had to rethink assessment and tests.
– We noticed students’ motivation began to go down after a few weeks.
– We all stared at screens too much!

We were lucky

In general, we all agree that we were lucky. We were lucky that we had already established strong relationships between students and teachers. There was a high level of trust already in place to guide us through the transition. We were lucky we already had Canvas as a learning platform. We were lucky we were already used to the Google productivity suite of applications. We were lucky that nearly all of our students were able to “connect” from home. We were lucky that students who needed extra support came into school and got one-on-one support. We were lucky that our teaching staff already understood what blended learning and instructional design meant and how they could reorganize their teaching to be effective even when learning happened remotely. We were lucky that our students wanted to continue to learn and they had support at home to help them.

What does all of this mean moving forward?

With this shared experience of teacher-led, online learning, VR Schools want to take what we have learned and put it into practice even when we are back in “normal” school.

We want to:

– Continue to start all courses by building a good relationship between the teacher and the students (key to IRL and online learning)
– Reach students who due to uncontrollable circumstances can’t be in school physically via digital channels
– Work in groups and teams in different constellations and even across schools to share knowledge and skills and assessments
– Vary the instruction in our classrooms even more to personalize the activities for individual students (work remotely sometimes, work in smaller groups, oral “online” presentations)
– Continue to use film as a natural, creative form of expression
– Use online meetings for efficiency
– Further develop how we use Canvas LMS to guarantee structure and clarity so that students and teachers can focus on the learning and not the mechanics of organization of “where is that doc/link”

In education, our task is to navigate an everchanging landscape by continually adapting to our students’ reality. The more digital our schools become the more we have to reflect on how best to use the possibilities we have now tested in real time with real students.

Thank you to all stakeholders who provided valuable feedback. I assure you, we are listening and learning.

Kristy Lundström,
Skolchef Stiftelsen Viktor Rydbergs skolor

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Kristy Lundström, Skolchef / Director of Schools

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