With most of its students in lockdown at home the Katherine Low Settlement’s ESOL team is busily doing what other relevant parts of the charity have done and quickly made all its classes available on social media and video-conferencing technology. This includes ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages), Maths, information technology (IT) and Early Years education courses.
“It means our students can continue their educational coursework without being interrupted by the Coronavirus lockdown and not miss out on valuable English language support,” says Fran Juckes, Head of the ESOL team at KLS (pictured below).
Based on existing timetables and content, courses are being run on widely-used social media like WhatsApp, Facebook and Skype, Zoom video-conferencing and email. “There is a lot of choice, all available without leaving home and easy and quick to access,” says Fran.
“The change to online has proved to be really popular, fun to use, just as effective as classroom sessions and definitely helps learning. We have built up a trusting relationship with students over the academic year. The changes we have adapted to online teaching are based on that trusting relationship,” she says.
Fran thinks ready acceptance of online teaching has been helped because so many people today already confidently use familiar social media and video-conferencing platforms, on smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs. “We also run classes on more than one platform simultaneously, so a student may use WhatsApp or any other social media or video-conferencing method they prefer.”
What’s more, if a young or older student lacks written or numerical skills in using a pen to write on paper, it’s much easier and more confidence-building for them to instead press letters and numbers on a keyboard or touch-screen.
How does it work?
Fran says WhatsApp and other social media platforms work really well for learning purposes. “For example, we send students a sentence with a missing word. The student has to fill in the gap with the missing word. It’s not only simple, but quick and fun to do.
“Or, through Google Classroom we can upload a worksheet document, key in every students’ name and email, give out a code and let each student work on their own version of the document. Soon after we can mark faster and let each student quickly know results.”
She says quizzes work really well this way and are popular because they are fun to do and students can learn at the same time. “Through WhatsApp or text we remind students an hour before a quiz is uploaded and classes are going to start, so they are ready and won’t miss the chance to take part.”
“Our students are wonderful, they know our team do not fully understand all the technical details, but they are so patient and understanding. Many don’t know the techie stuff either, but they are very tolerant if we get stuck.
“Because it’s a new way of working, we are all constantly looking for ways to make the whole learning experience better. It’s a very positive and shared educational information exchange. We’re all learning together.”
Get in touch with our ESOL team on 020 7223 2845 and [email protected]