It has been a funny old world these last few months, who would have thought we would see ourselves shut away in our homes hiding from a global pandemic? As we tried to support all of our many learners in our schools, whilst taking care of and worrying about loved ones, it has been the most difficult of times; more so than most of us have experienced in generations.
Out of adversity though, comes opportunity and like many professions, the education community have really stepped up doing everything they can to ensure learning continues under lockdown.
Whether you're a school in Cumbria or in Canberra, educators have been there every step of the way for the learners in their classrooms. So many have come such a long way the last few months in their journey to using digital tools to support teaching for learning.
Support for schools
I choose the companies I work with very carefully. One of the most important aspects of that selection is that they have a real passion for education; a desire to help and support teachers and most importantly, having an impact on the schools they provide their products and services to.
Frog has education and 'making a difference' at the very core of what they do, which made them such a compatible partner. It has been wonderful to hear so many amazing stories from the team about how Frog schools around the world have been coordinating their remote teaching and learning throughout the pandemic.
Importance of sharing school stories
Stories are so important to human culture. As Michael Margolis said, "The stories we tell literally make the world" and it has been fantastic to hear so many inspiring stories from educators around the world during these difficult times.
One such story from the Frog family is that of North Lakes School, a small Primary School in Penrith. In their first week of lockdown, they saw a huge engagement in their home learning provision with more than 7,500 engagements in that first week alone.
Another story is that of Bedford High, where working with Frog on a design update of their Parent and Student portals, to make them more appealing and user-friendly, saw a huge boost in engagement from learners and families. Teachers used tools such as FrogSnap, enabling them to provide whole-class feedback and the school used Frog Messaging to ensure parents were well-informed and engaged in the process. Assistant Headteacher at Bedford High, Gabriel Calwell notes, "The analytics were showing we had captured the school community's attention as we were seeing a six-fold increase in users."
Putting good practice into play
A hallmark of the work that I do with schools all over the UK and beyond, is to try to do everything I can to share ideas, use case scenarios and best practice in using the tools a school has available to them. Frog is no different in that.
Context is absolutely key too. Transformation and the ways in which technology will work is different for different schools as contextually, every school and geography brings unique challenges. Access to technology is a problem in countries such as Malaysia and the UK, while Australian schools are focused on becoming paperless etc.
Frog has been sharing stories for many months now. They have decided to take their conference on-line this year in order to be able to share those stories even further.
To maximise the value of their conference, Frog implemented some guiding principles:
- For it to be free of charge, something that Frog works hard to achieve with their annual conferences year on year.
- To be relevant for all schools, not just Frog schools.
- Open to anyone who would be interested in attending
- To include authentic, helpful, real-life stories shared by teachers and leaders from around the world, sharing the impacts of what they've seen and experienced as well as their successes and digital transformations.
- To be focused on the brilliant stories of the role technology has played in supporting school-life, despite the pandemic.
Frog20 Virtual Conference
I am so excited for the Frog20 conference. We have inspirational speakers onboard such as Nina Jackson, who will be sharing her expertise on well-being and ideas for how to support learners returning to school in September. We will hear a panel debate hosted by former BETT London Event Director, now founder of The Edtech Podcast, Sophie Bailey along with guests, Nick House (Headteacher at Greenshaw High School), Kate Wragg (Education and Leadership Trust) and Neelam Parmar (Ashford School).
It is a truly global event with stories from more than 20 different schools around the world, from places such as the US, France, Spain and the United Kingdom.
We are delighted to welcome the DfE Edtech Strategy Group's Co-chair Bukky Yusuf who will be sharing stories from teachers and schools around the UK, including her own which is in a Special School setting.
I am also proud to be joining the stellar lineup to deliver the closing keynote at the event sharing my ‘reasons to be cheerful’.
All in all it has shaped together to be a fantastic event, packed full of professional learning and sharing with stories at its heart which I am both proud to have helped bring together and to get the opportunity to share too. I simply cannot wait.