Forced remote learning was unexpected and for many schools—teachers, students and parents alike—it was tough at times.
Through no fault of their own, many schools have been caught out with the sudden change in how they were to perform ‘school’ in the new environment during the school shut down period.
The team at Schoolbox worked hard over the school closure period to bring hands-on and practical advice on how to make the most of our learning management system (LMS), community portal, and engagement platform.
Ensuring adequate dialogue between teachers, students, and the school community has been an ongoing focus and priority for Schoolbox, and our forum feature has been a popular avenue, seeing unprecedented number of entries. What is most interesting however, are the reasons schools started reaching out to Schoolbox for assistance.
Predictions: How would K–12 schools respond?
At the start of the school closure period, we predicted that many schools who had a less mature LMS or other online platform would contact us to move forward with a more sophisticated and dynamic platform.
Aesthetically, Schoolbox is designed to create engaging online learning by embedding videos easily, integrating other software tools, and creating an engaging layout. When students are working remotely 100% of the time, both functionality and design are equally important.
We also predicted that many schools would want to adopt a platform that allows for multiple teaching and learning styles and one that already had a strong track record in the field. Schoolbox has been able to facilitate asynchronous and synchronous learning, hence suited multiple schools in whichever way they designed their remote learning to take place.
Findings: How did K–12 schools respond?
Replacing a core system like an LMS can be a large project. And given the circumstances of this year, that challenge is even greater than normal. So, what did we find?
We found that many schools used this momentum of change to evolve their online learning systems and used the opportunity to reshape and rethink their digital ecosystem.
It was an ideal time to identify the weaknesses in their current system, locate their ideal requirements, and integrate new changes to be used rapidly and effectively.
Identification of challenges
Schools were finding that the two largest challenges they were facing were:
- Engaging effectively with their parent community; and
- Disparate systems that did not connect with each other.
Whilst disconnection and communication between schools and parents is nothing new, these issues have been further highlighted and amplified over the last few months. Coupling this with parents, teachers, and students accessing resources via multiple applications and platforms, frustration levels of an insufficient LMS left many schools with a clear picture of the digital framework they desired for their community.
The Schoolbox solution
Schoolbox can more than adequately address these challenges. Now that schools are armed with the vision of their ideal learning environment, we’ve put together the three elements that ensure Schoolbox can give your school what it needs.
A cohesive and connected platform creates connectedness through the whole school. This is something that Schoolbox excels in, and is actually what makes our platform remarkably unique. School communications can be distributed easily, parents can find resources regardless of which class or grade they are looking at, and teachers can collaborate and stay on top of what is happening in other departments. With everything in one place, and one entry point, finding, sharing, and connecting is easy.
Schools are desperately calling out for a single point of entry for all users, especially parents. Somewhere parents can see what their children’s day looks like, assignments that are due before Saturday’s basketball fixture, updates to postponed school events, top-up canteen accounts, pay tuition, and a wider collaboration channel with other parents. Leveraging the power of single sign on capabilities, with Schoolbox, all users are able to access everything in one place.
The news functionality in the community portal of Schoolbox is a market leader in this space. The news component has been redesigned with open dialogue from schools informing this process.
Updated enhancements include a save for later and statistics showing views to help inform relevance and frequency for updates and a comments section to increase dialogue within the school community.
Although the original news feature had a number of benefits, schools were in need of further interaction and discussion. The frequency and relevance of news needed greater data analysis so listening to our customers, we created engagement statistics to help further inform users.
Schoolbox has had many years of investment in integrations with Student Management Systems and third-party tools.
The benefits of Zoom and Microsoft Teams being embedded into the LMS means all students and teachers can engage in meaningful teaching and learning on campus or at home without signing up to external applications or being limited by time cut-off periods.
A feature like the Markbook allows linking to the assessment tasks and rubric, which enables the entire assessment process to be seamlessly integrated in the LMS. Formative assessment and comments as well as summative tasks, marks and progress notes can then be communicated to students and parents and saved for later reflection. Parents can also easily find details, due dates, and feedback while students and teachers can keep track of their marks easily and reflect on progress.
A single point of entry
The very nature of how Schoolbox was built is it’s most unique and powerful aspect that schools require right now.
A focus on user friendly design and functionality, ongoing development inline with the changing needs from schools, and an application that works for the whole school community makes Schoolbox a leader in the field.
Integrating school software and communications makes the school day easier no matter where the learning takes place.
While we recognise that not every school is ready to upgrade to a mature and powerful teaching and learning platform, the best strategy is to create a single point of entry in your school’s digital ecosystem, and have everything available in one place.
Identifying the key requirements your school needs from an online platform will assist greatly in any future search and upgrade.
Want to chat to a Schoolbox expert? Contact us today.
Grant van der Kruk is the General Manager at Schoolbox and has over 12 years experience in the education sector. Grant is committed to long-term customer success and remains focussed on ensuring outstanding customer experiences with Schoolbox.