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Many schools were making use of technology in the classroom before the pandemic. But, lockdown allowed them to take classrooms and learning to the next level. They used online applications to engage with pupils when in-person learning was not possible.

Blended learning

One of the schools that effectively integrated technology into learning is Brescia House School in Johannesburg. Brescia House School has been recognised as a Microsoft Showcase school since 2013. During this time, teachers and pupils have developed their skills using Microsoft applications. Pupils from Grade 4 to 12 have their own laptops as part of the school’s one-to-one device programme. Pupils are comfortable using Microsoft Teams to access and submit their work online for assessment. 

IT training

“Regular IT training has been on the timetable for teachers. This has enabled staff to develop their skills and understanding of a wide range of applications and tools for use in the classroom. We’ve been gearing up for a situation like this for some time,” says the school’s Head of Innovation and ICT, Lyneth Crighton.

The school’s Innovation Committee brings together a range of teachers who have an interest in IT and its application in the classroom.  These educational professionals spearheaded the facilitation of dynamic classroom and learning spaces through a range of initiatives, ideas and pedagogies. 

We have worked hard at growing, digitally discerning and innovatively charged young minds.  – Kyle van der Merwe:  Senior English Educator; Innovation Strategic Team Member.

Loredana Borello, Head of the High School says, “I am in awe of our teachers and our students.  What they have achieved in such a short space of time is quite remarkable. As a result, no academic time was lost during lockdown.”

Secure platforms

As a Microsoft Showcase School, it has access to a secure platform for pupils, parents and teachers to interact.  Girls from Grade R to Matric are using this daily and seamlessly to engage with their learning. This is a student-centred platform used with other Microsoft products, including OneNote and the Office 365 suite. Technology has enabled the school to stay true to its Catholic ethos. The school continued with assemblies, services, meetings and prayers on the TEAMS platform. 

For more about supporting your child’s online learning from home, read here

Learning in the digital age

It has been business as usual on campus and the school operations team. “The School Covid-19 and Operations Manager, Paul Matthews, has worked to keep our school safe and sanitised, explains Kyle van der Merwe: Senior English Educator; Innovation Strategic Team Member. “We know it is through these efforts that we have managed to continue to be together in the same physical space. This notion is central to our educational successes.  Being on campus encourages team spirit, helps shape listening skills and facilitates other important communication skills.” Pupils are therefore more likely to engage in lively discussions when in a physical classroom. They are also able to engage in collaborative learning with their classmates.

“The school’s implementation of an integrated approach offers the best of both educational paradigms. Brescia House School has achieved the balance of face-to-face contact and blended learning, leveraging technology to prepare our pupils for navigating the ever changing, digital and social complexities of the 21st century learning landscape,” says Van der Merwe.