Blog Why I wish I had Schoolbox when I was a teacher By bojana.lazarevska Teaching and Learning Hello, My name is Megan Conley and I’m very pleased to introduce myself as the new Schoolbox Teacher. I am a passionate English and English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher. For the past few years, I’ve been teaching at an inner-city government school in Melbourne. As well as being a classroom teacher, I was also the International Student Program Coordinator and a Head of Department. I thrive on opportunities to be creative and love thinking of new ideas to engage and challenge my students, including through the use of ICT. In the past week, I’ve been intensively learning all about Schoolbox, including setting up my own class and course pages. I’m so excited about the potential of the Schoolbox LMS, it makes me wish I still had my own classes to try it out on. Here are a few reasons why I wish I had Schoolbox when I was teaching at a school… It’s a time saver! When you’re a teacher, there are never enough hours in the week. For me, Sundays were marking days. I found there were many advantages to marking soft copies rather than hard copies: soft copies allowed me to keep a copy of the student’s work and track their feedback and improvements (particularly useful when writing reports) Personally, I type quicker than I can handwrite Students preferred to send me soft copies And, trees were being saved! But, soft copy marking remained time-consuming because I had to first download the doc, complete my marking, save the doc to my computer, then compose an email with feedback and upload the doc to send back to the student. So, any time I saved by being a quicker typer, was lost in the process of downloading and uploading. But, through Schoolbox’s collaboration with Inline Grader everything can be done within Schoolbox, no need to download and upload. Woohoo! Think of all the time and disc space saved! More than this, the ability to build living courses that can be reused and grown year after year, eliminates the need to spend time uploading resources and trying to remember what you did last year. I wish I had this available to me when I was teaching, I may have even been able to cut down on the summer holiday prep for the coming year. Schoolbox promotes collaboration Collaboration is an integral part of teaching and our professional growth. Sharing resources and activities with other teachers is a way to ensure that our teaching remains relevant and engaging to our students. Schoolbox is a fantastic tool to promote this sharing between teachers and ensures that we can continue to learn and grow from each other. I wish I had Schoolbox when I was teaching, so that I could work with other teachers to develop courses and share resources. Schoolbox also promotes consistency across classes. The course page, that can be accessed by all teachers of a subject, acts as the foundations for a course, outlining the curriculum, resources and assessments that should be consistent across a subject. But, as we all know, we each have our own teaching style and the dynamics of classes can vary drastically from class to class. This is where class pages allow for differentiation and individual style, so a teacher can set up their class page and add components and resources that suit their style and the students they are teaching. I love that Schoolbox allows this flexibility, whilst also promoting best practice and consistency across a subject area. It’s a fantastic tool to engage students Our students live in a digital age where they have grown up with computers and mobile devices. Information is constantly at their fingertips and it is vital that we embed technology literacy as part of our everyday classroom practice. When I was teaching, I wanted to ensure that my students were engaged in my subject beyond the hours they were in my classroom. Social media, like Facebook, wasn’t appropriate for a school setting, but I knew that it was something all my students used not only socially, but also to ask each other about homework and class tasks. I wanted to be involved in these discussions, but they were being generated on a platform that I couldn’t engage in on a professional level. This issue is solved with Schoolbox. The ‘social stream’ component, added to a class page, allows students to discuss schoolwork in an appropriate forum and context that I, as a teacher, am able to monitor and contribute to. Moreover, instead of receiving 10 emails asking the same question from students, an answer posted to the class page can be seen by all students – another vital time saver! Everything in one spot Within Schoolbox is the capability to do many things that in the past I would have had to use multiple websites or programs to do. You can create a quiz, survey or poll, set up a class blog, post resources and links, embed videos and mark student work. These functions extend beyond the classroom, as you can also set up pages for co-curricular activities, projects or different groups (you could even empower students to manage these groups). In the past, some of these tasks, whilst engaging for students, would have been time-consuming in their set up and introduction to students. Schoolbox is a one-stop-shop; simple, intuitive and consistent for students and teachers. No need to remember multiple logins and passwords. The data you collect from surveys, quizzes etc… is also easily available and accessed through the Schoolbox platform and can be made easily available to parents – promoting best practice in continuous reporting and transparency. This is only my second week at Schoolbox, so I’m still learning. But, I can already see its potential to improve teaching and learning in schools. I’m really looking forward to working with the Schoolbox Community to promote best practice and improve student engagement and outcomes.