Monday, 17 December 2012

Festivities shouldn’t replace revision necessity

GCSE Revision Over the Festive Season
The countdown to Christmas has begun, advent calendars are half-open, online shoppers are in full swing and even the snow has made an early appearance.

Yet, with all the excitement, students can overlook the importance of revision.

December and January are always difficult periods with mock exams, resits and modular exams all falling within a short space of time. You don't need us reminding you but we know it can be difficult to keep learners focused over the festive season, especially once they're out of the classroom.

Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre is facing this challenge like schools up and down the country.

Homewood is a learning institute that prides itself on being at the forefront of the personalised learning agenda, and educationalists from other countries regularly visit the campus to observe and reflect on their dedication and success in pursuing new digital learning initiatives.    

Student engagement and progression has been achieved in various ways using mobile ICT. Yet to support and further accelerate students’ learning outside of the classroom, Homewood have not settled solely on it. To mark the end of 2012, teachers at the school have challenged their students to rethink the way they spend their spare time. Smart devices make socialising and connecting with friends easy, at times a little too easy. But despite the level of distraction caused by these devices, 11−18 year olds are a connected generation. They expect to access, manage and store data in ways that are accessible to them, wherever they may be.

Personalised learning is much about creating something that’s intuitive, that understands the requirements of the user and responds in a way that is desired and expected.

But how do you achieve this effectively?

Homewood’s ambition was simple but not without its challenges – raise student engagement, motivation and performance outside of the school environment – and to do this they selected a cloud-based revision resource.

Within the education sector there is a saturated market of revision resources ranging from audio podcasts and 3D animations to static PowerPoints with tutor voiceovers. The challenge, however, was not selecting a method of teaching, since, for young people, visual platforms were recognised as the favoured platform. It is the level of accuracy and content coverage that raises concerns and questions. YouTube is a site recognised for its unique video content and visual resources yet much of the content here is self-published. Yes, YouTube EDU goes some way to filter through this but most of the resources available are not curriculum-driven. Homewood wanted a resource that complemented their syllabi, continuing on from lesson content in a way that was engaging for students.

The new GCSE revision resource that they selected combines lesson tutorials led by real GCSE teachers with end-of-topic test and learn questions. The purpose of this is to enable students to access accurate material available on their mobile devices.

The resource has been integrated into lesson plans but works effectively as an independent revision and exam preparation tool. Students simply receive their personalised login and, once activated, they can then log in via their iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod), encouraging them to watch lesson clips and test themselves on the go.

Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre
‘By challenging learners to think about how they use their spare time, what we’re really asking is can they use their spare time more effectively; whether it’s travelling on the bus, waiting for their favourite TV show to start or while they’re in bed prolonging the start of a new day?
We want our learners to make the best use of their free time, especially at significant points in the school term where attention and focus can waver.’ (Chris Foreman, Vice-Principal, Partnerships, Homewood School & Sixth Form Centre).

“We’re anticipating achieving fantastic results and we’d encourage other schools to approach revision in the same way”.