I’ve received lots of messages and I’ve seen a huge amount of information on home learning and lots of schools are doing different things and engaging with home learning in different ways. A number of people have messaged me to ask my opinion on ‘live’ videos so I wanted to share my thoughts here.

Firstly, I think it’s important to remember that these school closures and lockdown are something that is happening around the world and while we may have thought it was going to happen I don’t think anyone was really fully prepared for it or for it to continue for so long. I really thought we’d be back to school after the Easter holidays but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

When schools closed there was suddenly a huge burst of things to try out, lots of websites gave free access to schools and students and while that is all really fantastic it is also a minefield to navigate as no one really knows the best way forward. Then it came to schools and how teaching and learning could continue across Ireland. We’ve adapted in many different ways to cater for the needs of our pupils using a variety of new (and often unfamiliar) programmes and apps such as Seesaw, Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Classroom and more.

Guidance from the Department of Education has been limited – a document which offered suggestions but no real plan so it has been left to individual schools to decide the way forward which in one way I agree with (as schools know their pupils and communities best) but it also concerns me as different schools will have different approaches which causes further confusion for parents and families and a lot of people will compare and criticise schools because of this.

In relation to live classes I have some big concerns.

Before I share my concerns, I know lots of teachers and students have had really lovely experiences using ‘live’ classes or video calls and I totally understand the appeal and think it’s such a nice way to check in on your pupils and even to teach new concepts. I think connection is so important for children and it’s so lovely for them and teachers to see each other face to face.

However, from a child protection and few other reasons I personally won’t be engaging in video calls or live classes

Teachers and their home environment

  1. Something inappropriate happens in the teachers home – someone used bad language for example
  2. Something pops up on the screen
  3. Teacher is looking after their children or other family members and a live video call at a set time isn’t an option.
  4. Teacher’s not feeling comfortable teaching lessons online etc.

Pupils home environment

  1. Adequate supervision
  2. Teacher or students see something concerning or inappropriate
  3. Another member of the students household (or the student themselves) does or says something inappropriate
  4. Some pupils are trying to help out at home (looking after younger brothers or sisters etc.) when parents are trying to work from home.

Availability of devices/internet connection

  1. Not all children will have a device or an adequate internet connection
  2. Some children may be sharing a device. If the class go on at a certain time – this will not work for all pupils.
  3. If teachers move on with work what happens for the children who can’t access the ‘live’ conference at the given time.

Screenshots etc.

  1. Children/teachers/other members of a child’s family could take screenshots of the video calls and upload them elsewhere/make changes to them etc.

I do realise that these scenarios might be unlikely for lots of schools but it only needs to happen once for it to be a disaster.

Alternative options

  • Encourage parents to engage with video calls between friends in the class or family members (adequate supervision)
  • Voicenotes to pupils using apps such as Seesaw – giving feedback on work etc.
  • Phone calls to parents and speaking to a pupil (again with parental supervision and permission)
  • Pre recorded videos which can be uploaded to a secure platform such as Seesaw or Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams (or even Youtube – restricted view (if you are worried about sharing videos for anyone to see)
  • Emails to parents to check in

 

Overall this is my own personal opinion on live videos. I know its working well for some schools and teachers but it’s not something I’m happy to engage with for the reasons listed above. I think it’s important to share your concerns and views when new ideas and initiatives are shared in your school and make a decision that will work best to suit you, your class and your school community.