2020-05-28 22:13:35

How Barker College 'shaped the day' with remote learning

By Emma Westwood
Emma is a keen content strategist who absolutely adores coming up with the overarching narrative mosaic that is magically revealed from the smaller stories contained within it. She relishes in finding these opportunities for clients that they may not see otherwise. From industries as diverse as advanced manufacturing, OT cybersecurity, social and community housing and edtech to film distributors/exhibitors, DVD labels, cultural festivals and arts institutions, Emma has thrived on the creative challenges that each organisation brings, Every brand has a human story; it’s just a matter of unwrapping that story and giving it wings.

We were not only impressed by long-term EdSmart customer Barker College's transition to remote learning but also their attitude in the process. Let's take a look at what they did.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdown, a communication from Barker College's Head of Curriculum, Jeremy von Einem, caught our eye. What impressed us was not only Barker's momentum in making decisions under pressure but also their transparency about these decisions and their continued endeavours to make the best of a compromised situation. 

Jeremy von Einem openly communicated to the school community about their initial trial of remote learning and the flaws that were revealed, indicating they would never be able to replicate their on-campus timetable in a home environment. 

As he explains, "A student isn’t physically writing and working for 60 minutes in each hour. Sometimes they daydream, sometimes they just listen, sometimes they get distracted. Online learning can never simply be ‘school but at home’."

"[In deciding how the online day should look, Barker] tried to plan a day that had variety, an opportunity to catch up with their teachers, time to work for a longer period without interruption and a chance to interact with their classmates, albeit in an online environment."

"A big area of focus was to design a day that allowed for routine and could work for a school closure of indefinite length. To provide routine, we didn’t want to change the structure of the day from week to week to respond to whatever decisions were being made by our governments at the time. We tried to design a structure that would work now and, heaven forbid, over a longer period of time."

Barker's solution was a 'Student Shape of the Day' strategy that outlined how tuition could continue as best as possible in a remote learning environment. Below is an example of what the 'Student Shape of the Day' has looked like for those in Barker College's Senior School.

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Jeremy noted the importance of students being able to see and hear their teachers. As he says, "Humans are social animals and so this kind of contact is vital for the wellbeing of students."

"Experience has made it clear that an hour of live streaming is too demanding on the concentration of both staff and students. Our Shape of the Day has tried to limit live streaming to 30 minutes per class and then once or twice a week. We need to give our students time to actually do the work!"

As a school that uses EdSmart, we're proud to hold up Barker College as an example of leadership through action, and adaptability at a time of crisis.

You can read our previous case study on Barker College. If you also have a story about how your school has risen above the challenges of COVID-19, we'd love to hear it. Email emma@edsmart.com