When On-line Education and Training meet the Covid-19 Lockdown
A growing number of Covid-19 support sites are circulating lists of ideas and material to help parents keep children busy while schools are closed. Their value is limited by the lack of links to the main sources of guidance for schools, colleges and universities.
1 Department for Education Guidance
The Department for Education guidance for those running educational establishments is here . It has been recommended that schools visit daily for updates. The DfE Guidance for Parents on handling the consequences of schools closures is here . The guidance defining those in most need of isolation because of underlying health conditions is here . There is an expectation that schools will be responsible for contacting parents on their plans.
2 Wider On-line Access to Materials for Schools and Parents
The most comprehensive and authoritative source advice and guidance to schools, including information on changes to the availability of educational materials to support home-based learning for those of school age, is the corona virus page of the London Grid for Learning . This also covers the current state of changes to licenses to make material available at no cost, links covering the use of products like Teams and Google Hangout to organise on-line classes, material on safeguarding issues, templates for letters to inform parents of schools plans and also guidance for parents themselves.
It is worth reminding readers of the unique status of the London Grid as a community interest company. It is a direct descendent of the Computers in Schools support operation of the Inner London Education Authority and is focussed on supporting schools and councils, including their dealings with parents. It now serves around 3,500 schools around the UK, not just in London. It may well serve a thousand or so more if reciprocal arrangements with other members of the National Education Network are included.
The LGfL material has now been made more widely available (e.g. to those organising home schooling and homework clubs) and they have a recruitment programme to handle the current emergency but their resources are fully occupied supporting schools and councils. They are unlikely to be able to help others, beyond providing uncharged access, unless supported by Government (Central or Local) to do so.
3 Wider On-line Access to Materials for further and Higher Education
The LGfL Internet connections (along with those for the other Local Authority Grids for Learning) are provided by JISC , which also provides the Internet connections for the UK Universities and FE Colleges. JISC has released the following statement regarding access to FE and HE materials with their partners .
The Open University Statement with a link to OpenLearn (free courses) is most relevant. So too are the OU page on Covid related material and the page on mental health issues and isolation.
4 Access to Professional Courses, Qualifications and Apprenticeships
The Government guidance on apprenticeship programmes is here and that from the Institute for Apprenticeships is here . Some FE Colleges and Commercial training and apprenticeship providers have also moved rapidly to make other industry recognised courses and qualifications, including certifications, available on line. For example, Bluescreen IT, which runs the Plymouth Cybersecurity Skills now in its third year, has moved all its classroom training onto its on-line virtual delivery platform and issued a short video of tips for learning from home. DSS, the digital skills arm of Newham College, has similarly moved its apprenticeship support programmes on-line.
I am also aware of plans by some of main industry groups (including trade associations and professional bodies) to organise on-line round tables, hopefully in co-operation with DfE, DCMS and the relevant funding agencies and regulators, to provide common guidance and remove the obstacles to doing much more education, training and assessment (including examinations) on-line.
5 Tomorrow came Last Week
We can expect the trends on which I blogged this time last year to have moved from futurology to commonplace before more pessimistic forecasts of the lock down period are over. I have been asked, inter alia, to organise an on-line round table to update the discussion document (to which I referred in that blog) to cover what has happened since, as forecasts turn into reality rather faster than predicted. Please contact me if you would like a copy.