In this case study, we will look at how Ursuline High School in Wimbledon integrated innovative digital technologies into blended learning strategies across the school. [1]

Schools need to involve digital technologies in teaching to best equip students for the future once they leave school. Covid-19 forced this digital transition as all learning had to be completed remotely. Now schools have reopened, blended learning is seen as a way of including digital technologies to create a more engaging learning environment.

Ursuline High School

Ursuline High School are at the forefront of blended learning. As a Microsoft School, they use Microsoft Teams as online an online classroom. All applications used for online teaching are also Microsoft applications. This ensures that any prospective students know they need to have access to Microsoft applications before they start.

The school further has a laptop policy that facilitates this learning. All students have a school laptop, paid for through voluntary parent donation programmes. All students in the school had access to laptops before Covid-19 as this scheme was in place before the pandemic.

A Microsoft School

Being a Microsoft school makes it easier for teachers and students to stay organised as all applications are in one place. The most useful applications for this are One Note and Teams for classroom work and Microsoft Forms for all feedback from students and parents.

All student work is completed through blended learning. OneNote acts as a digital exercise book where worksheets and homework are stored and distributed. Class notes are taken in exercise books to ensure students can work on their handwriting for future exams.

Benefits of using Microsoft One Note

  • The immersive reader is useful for students with Special Educational Needs as it increases the readability of documents. It is also helpful for all students during English lessons as words can be broken down in sentences by their properties
  • OneNote sections makes it easier for students to stay organised and find content they need for revision
  • OneNote Sections aid the teacher’s organisation too, separating worksheets and homework that can easily be distributed to the class through a distribute tool.
  • Seating Plan Management Systems.The system syncs with Progresso so all student data is already loaded on the platform, helping the teacher to understand how the class layout can help meet student needs.

Benefits of using Microsoft Teams as an online classroom

  • All lessons are recorded on Microsoft Teams, during the pandemic they were entirely conducted on Teams.
  • The Toggle Subtitle tool makes lessons more accessible and captures what the teacher is saying in text.
  • Using this platform means the content is easier for students to revise effectively. They can go over the content they are unsure of or missed in class because all lessons are recorded.
  • Use of brake out rooms promotes collaboration in class. Setting questions and tasks for individual groups to work on together on one document.
  • Recorded lessons further improve the support parents can provide their children. They can easily go over content with the child, breaking down lessons and sections they need more help with.

Microsoft Forms

Microsoft Forms provides data to support the direction of learning the school should move towards. Feedback from staff, students and parents develops an understanding of what improvements need to be made. Feedback from parents on blended learning raised the issue that children were struggling with handwriting. This led to the reintroduction of books in classrooms as exams are all handwritten so clear handwriting is important.

Previously created surveys can be replicated to gather annual feedback. This is an important tool when improving blended learning and the delivery of lessons. The response section on forms analyses the data to create comparative charts that can be exported as reports for senior leadership or governors.

Innovative Teaching

Technology makes it possible to create more innovative and engaging learning materials for students. It opens up the option of using online tools and involving them in the classroom to boost student engagement. Embedding technology in teaching creates a more engaging learning environment.

Software and Programmes

  • Minecraft- The game Minecraft has been used with history lessons. Creating famous buildings on Minecraft allowed students to research famous landmarks from history.
  • VR Headset- The school have a Virtual Reality headset that teachers can book to create more interactive and immersive lessons for students

By using more innovative ways of teaching the school recognised the need for teachers to do a workshop inset day. The workshop taught at least one member of every faculty how to use each of the new systems, providing them with the professional development needed to create the best teaching materials on these new systems.

Virtual School Trips

During Covid it was difficult to plan any school trips because of national restrictions, by using technology, virtual trips became a possibility. Using Skype and recorded Skype sessions on Youtube, students were able to access school trips remotely. These Skype sessions made trips to Silicon Valley Animation studios possible for KS3 that may have not been possible in person due to cost.

Contacting organisations and ex-students made virtual talks about working in the Tech industries possible. Having visitors over Teams means the sessions can be recorded and re-visited for future careers days the school holds. Discussing possible futures in the tech industry engages students in thinking about career paths after they leave school.

Impact

  • In 2021 83% students received a Grade 4 or higher in GCSE English and Maths, 41% of all grades were grades 9-7 [2]
  • In GCSE Computer Science 69% of all students received a grade 9-7, and 100% of them received at minimum a grade 5
  • Innovative teaching allows students to learn technological skills for careers they may follow after they finish education
  • Moving all paperwork online reduced paper usage across the school and reduced their environmental impact
  • Embedding technology in teaching has saved time that would otherwise be spent organising paperwork.

[1] Halima Bhayat, Associate Senior Leader STEAM Lead & International Schools Lead, Ursuline High School, (2021)
[2]Ursuline High School, GCSE Exam Results, (2021)

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Central to a successful blended learning strategy, technology encourages active learning, improves student engagement and prepares them for life in an increasingly digital world. This case study examines the blended learning strategy of Ursuline High School, discussing how innovative technology has been successfully integrated across the school.

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