With the school being closed as a result of the weather at the end of last week, I have had chance to tinker with, and to tweak, the school website.
As soon as we were aware that the school would be closed, all staff posted work onto the website to be completed by pupils at home - using a range of online and offline tools like PurpleMash, GoggleBox, Interactive Resources and their learning spaces. The school text messaging service not only informed parents that the school was closed, but to look on the website for work that the pupils were expected to work through at home (oh how the parents must love us, but the children hate us!!)
Over the course of the days we were closed, and the weekend that followed, children have left comments informing staff that they have completed their work and posted it into their learning spaces, followed by staff re-blogging examples of work produced the pupils onto the main school website with praise and comments. (For me, this is a great sight to see - our Learning Platform solution working perfectly to allow education to continue beyond the classroom walls).
For those that follow the activity on the website you will have also seen that we had three CoverItLive events whilst the school was closed in order to allow pupils to ask any questions about the work that they were set remotely. This was a new idea for us - inspired by the excellent work of Dave Mitchell at Heathfield CPS (@deputymitchell).
I set up three events and had pupils attending each one of them to ask questions, query the work (and in one instance ask what to do, then return half an hour later to tell me they had completed the work set). If we had announced this feature to the pupils before we had closed the school, I think we may have had even more participants.
I can see a future for CoverItLive at Porchester. Not only for times when the school is closed unexpectedly, but also for additional work as needed; revision for SATs, discussion about projects we are involved in, help and support for pupils off school long term - and I'm sure we'll think of even more ways to use it.
In amongst all this I have also tweaked the commenting feature on the main website (as well as the Epic Citadel project site). Now when pupils / visitors leave a comment, we can reply directly to a particular comment, rather than just having the most recent comment display at the top of the list;
I've also made a small change to the avatar that appears beside a comment. If a pupil leaves a comment anonymously, then a random patterned avatar is displayed, but if they have logged into to the learning spaces then they will see an image of two computers and arrows. It's a quick way for me to see who is and isn't logged in (because logged in users could also be posting work to their own spaces). At the moment staff avatars are also showing as the random pattern - but this is something I hope to change before Christmas.
So, it's back to work on Monday now that the snow has melted (for the moment!!) to continue working with the children, but now knowing that if (when) the snow comes again we can carry lessons on as normal, although being isolated and in remote locations.
Were getting closer to 'Anytime, Anywhere learning' many years after I first heard that phrase mentioned (I think it was back in 1996).