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Maintaining continuity during the Coronavirus outbreak

By Thomas O'Donahoo on 10 March 2020NSWstaffroomUKstaffroomCOVID-19

As Atomi supports a global community of learners, we’ve already had many schools reach out to us for advice and support when it comes to dealing with school shutdowns or many students being unable to attend class due to quarantine.

For students and schools impacted by COVID-19, continuity of learning with minimal disruption is critical. Atomi is a valuable asset in ensuring that continuity and here are a few strategies that might help in the event of a disruption.

For individual students isolated from the classroom

If one or more students have been isolated from the classroom, and you’re still running regular classes, it can be tricky to balance the needs of both groups.

Continuation of learning: Assign Atomi lessons or quizzes.

Atomi has thousands of pre-prepared, engaging, syllabus-specific online videos, text lessons and interactive quizzes. This can be a great resource if you’re suddenly faced with preparing a large number of online lessons. Assigning content using Atomi’s Tasks feature will ensure that students keep up and as their teacher, you can track their completion as they progress through content on Atomi remotely. You can find our guide to creating Atomi tasks here.

Catching up on missed learning: Encourage students that have missed lessons to back-track over the relevant Atomi content.

If a student has been away from class due to illness or self-quarantine they can be at risk of falling behind. By issuing them with Atomi content students can navigate through the work they have missed quickly and at their own pace, increasing the likelihood of them getting back on track.

Communication: Schedule check-ins via video chats.

Many of our employees at Atomi work remotely, so we know first hand that it can be isolating to work from home if you’re not used to it. Even if an email or message would do the trick, taking the time to jump on a video call where someone can see your face will make you feel a little more connected, included and engaged. If you can take the time to organize a video chat, it’s worth the added effort. At Atomi we use Google Meet for our video conferences, but you can use the free version of Google Meet, Zoom, Skype or any other video conferencing service easily with very little setup.

In the event of a whole school shutdown

If classes are suspended or the situation presents a larger challenge, we recommend a mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning.

Asynchronous learning via pre-prepared lessons, quizzes and other activities, such as the syllabus-specific video lessons or quizzes provided by Atomi, those from another provider or by making your own custom resources. These online lessons should be assigned as tasks either through Atomi or an LMS to ensure that students have a clear picture of what is expected of them and by when.

Synchronous lessons via video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Skype etc. These can be scheduled in place of a regular face-to-face class and can help to provide a familiar rhythm to students used to that teaching mode. Having a large group of students on a video conference can be tricky to manage at first, so we’ve linked a video conferencing etiquette guide here that can help you set the ground rules from day one.

General advice

A rapid shift to online learning can be an enormous burden for teachers when it comes to lesson creation or composition. Most schools with sophisticated online learning programs spend months or years developing these programs. In the event of a school shutdown, creating an online learning program may have to be achieved in a fraction of that time. Atomi can help with our library of pre-prepared resources for the curriculums we support.

Clear communication is critical. Ensure your students and parents or guardians understand how your process is going to work and what is expected of them.

Dealing with distractions and procrastination are likely issues you’ll be facing, so make sure you’re prepared. Many students won’t be used to learning in their home environment or having this level of agency over their workload.

During the rollout of a digital classroom, teachers are more likely to face questions about technical problems their students are experiencing. This could be issues connecting to a video conference or logging into an application. Given that, schools should do their best to prepare their teachers to support students through common issues, so that rolling out these technologies to their classes is as seamless as possible.

Schools should also set clear expectations with their students, teachers and parents around what happens if students are not participating in their online learning. This is important as traditional methods to deal with non-compliance won't necessarily translate to the new digital classroom.

Other resources that can help

Stay safe out there and reach out if there’s anything we can do!


Related posts from The Staffroom:

Atomi Brainwaves: Transitioning to online learning in the face of COVID-19


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