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How Can Multi-Academy Trusts Improve Learning Outcomes in the Digital Classroom?

4 minute read
By Smoothwall

With hundreds of lessons taking place across your MAT everyday, providing your teachers with the resources for innovative and engaging lessons is vital. Choose the wrong solutions in a complex MAT technology infrastructure, and lessons could be impeded.

The outstanding lesson

An outstanding lesson has been planned… minute by minute, short engaging activities have been carefully crafted keeping students on task and interested. Differentiation has been well-considered so that all pupils have the best opportunity to make excellent progress…

The teacher starts by loading a short relevant clip on YouTube. Having worked at home in preparation, the teacher finds that this particular URL has been blocked by the school filtering system. The filter system is basic and has failed to differentiate between a safe website and an inappropriate website.

Moving swiftly on, the teacher makes up a verbal starter on the spot and then moves onto the next activity. She asks all the students to load a specific URL. This is fine to load but unfortunately time is wasted by several students not typing in the address correctly.

The activity begins and still two students are unable to load the URL and the teacher walks over to load it for them. With her back turned, two pairs of students go off task and start exploring other web pages. One pair go onto a forum site and leave malicious messages about another student. The other pair are looking at a fan site for their favourite YouTube star. The first activity comes to an end and 6 students haven’t started it!

The next activity begins and suddenly all the computers in the room slow down. Students start to get unsettled. The teacher rings IT and they say there is a bandwidth problem as another class is using large media files.

Tech challenges

The scenario above outlines day to day occurrences for teachers in schools lacking good online safety infrastructure. Schools that have implemented a successful digital safety system give teachers the confidence that lessons they have spent time planning will run smoothly, that online safety risks will be mitigated, and students will be visibly on track without technical disruption.

How could technology enable the above lesson to be as outstanding as planned?

The lesson could have flowed smoothly if an effective digital safety system was implemented. This can be made up of filtering, proactive digital monitoring, safeguard record management and classroom management.

If an effective filter had been in place, such as Smoothwall Filter, the YouTube video would have been recognised as an appropriate resource and would have loaded at the start of the lesson.

A classroom management system would then have enabled the teacher to load the URL for the first activity to all student screens at once and the teacher would have been able to see a grid view of any students going off task.

A screenshot could have been taken of the students off task and the tabs the students shouldn’t have been on could have been immediately closed down from the teacher’s master screen.

If the teacher had missed the pair leaving malicious messages before spotting them off task, the school proactive digital monitoring system, such as Smoothwall Monitor could have detected it and automatically sent a discrete alert to the school DSL.

The school DSL could have seen this as a safeguarding concern and easily clicked for the concern to be added to the school Smoothwall Record Manager for follow up.

An effective school filtering system would also allow bandwidth allocation so the problems in the computers slowing would not have taken place.

Creating an outstanding online safety infrastructure

This story outlines just some of the ways in which an excellent online safety infrastructure can dramatically improve the running of your digital learning environment and enable outstanding lessons to take place across your Trust.

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