What we did:
We were working with a number of community and resettled refugee learners and were keen that they continue their English language learning and progression as they had all been working towards accreditation assessments in June. Initially we utilised Facebook, emails and phone calls as our means of communication, latterly a YouTube channel was set up and some phone calls were replaced with online video classes.
This all required adaptation to an electronic means of teaching and learning which was new to tutors and learners additionally we needed to create resources and materials that were both aimed at specific assessment practise and that could be delivered electronically. This not only involved the time of tutors in the creation of the materials but also exploration of different ways that the student could learn which included creating presentations and worksheets, videos to include grammar points, finding and creating online games, interactive resources to learn vocabulary etc.
Who we involved:
It involved us as tutors, other colleagues with our team, some colleague from other departments especially in setting up different social media platforms and the learners.
The difference it made:
Initially there was some apprehension from the learners and also a sense of uncertainty on the tutors part as we were ’delving into the unknown’, this was all very new and different for us as well. However, learning and progression did take place and we received positive feedback from the learners that we engaged with, in fact a couple of our learners did their own additional independent learning and asked for feedback on this from their tutors. It actually made revision and practise easier, especially for those who previously had to travel to lessons or had other time commitments.
This continuation of learning has allowed our Community ESOL learners to go for their accreditation assessments. Everyone who attended successfully gained one with some achieving two qualifications and some being offered places at ESOL college courses. In addition it is allowing us now to prepare Resettled Community learners for their accreditation hopefully in the coming months and be hopeful of similar success.
One of students wrote about the usefulness of emailed lessons prior to her assessment:
“They contained a lot of knowledge, words, examples. And it was understandable.
Most writing invitations. Thanks to that I remembered a lot and recorded it”.
What we will do differently in the future:
We discovered how we all are adaptable, for learning to be effective it does not all have to be face-to-face. We have also learned that electronic lessons require much more time preparation and follow up time than traditional lessons.
We are still getting used to delivering and learning in this way. We think that it will be ‘trial by error’ as we proceed but it’s okay to continue and try to make improvements along the way. We have to be pragmatic in our approach to things as we move forward and understand that there will be things that work and don’t work and that it will be a challenge and a learning process for us all.
We have all had to try to become more digitally aware and do a lot more research and exploration look at alternative and different ways of doing things and brought out a lot of creativity collaboration and innovation amongst us and our team.
We anticipate that digital learning will continue alongside face-to-face learning in the future and have seen that it can be a successful method of delivery. Therefore we are looking into improving the access of our learners to digital technology and devices to make the learning more straightforward and accessible.