Wednesday 27 April 2016

My Learning and GEMS Education: Rapid Growth in the UAE

GEMS Education is an international network of award winning K-12 schools; with 85 schools worldwide it is the largest operator of K-12 schools in the world. Founded in Dubai, its first school opened there in 1968. GEMS now has 46 of its schools in the UAE and is the largest education provider there. In keeping up with technological advances, GEMS in the UAE has implemented a customised virtual learning environment (VLE), provided by My Learning UK, across its schools.

“As the core component of the GEMS personalised learning ecosystem, My Learning is the vehicle through which we are transforming teaching and learning at scale, across our global network of high performing schools."

Phil Redhead
Senior Manager, Digital Strategy

According to data published in the new Market Intelligence Report for International Schools in the United Arab Emirates by ISC Research, the UAE continues to be the leading country in the world for English-medium K-12 (kindergarten to grade 12) international schools. English-medium schools use the English language as the medium of instruction, although it is not necessarily the first language of the students who attend. According to the report there are 548 English-medium international schools in the UAE with more schools due to open in 2016 including GEMS International School in Mudon. The total number of students aged between 3 and 18 attending these schools is 545,074, the highest enrolment of any country in the world by a substantial margin. 36% of all international schools in the UAE have over 1000 students.

Chart depicting the enrolment growth from 2011-2016. According to ISC Research there has been a further 5% growth in the four-month period between January and April 2016.

The use of Ed-Tech (educational technology) within the English-medium UAE schools is also gathering momentum and growing at a fast pace. “Most of the international schools are very keen on good, quality ed-tech to support student learning and many have good resource budgets for this,” says Diane Glass, Head of Business Development at The International School Consultancy.

My Learning are proud to be working with such a prestigious organisation and to see our product being used extensively in the UAE and across the globe. We look forward to continuing our partnership with GEMS Education and seeing what the future holds!

Tuesday 26 April 2016

The Flipped Classroom: Turning Traditional Education Upside-Down

What is a Flipped Classroom?
The flipped classroom is a teaching model in which the typical classroom and homework elements of a course are reversed. Students watch short videos/lectures at home before the class session, while class time is devoted to exercises, projects or discussions. The video element is a key ingredient in the flipped approach and is either created by the class teacher or selected from an online repository. Within the classroom, activity learning and concept engagement takes place with the help of the teacher.

What is the Value?
The value of a flipped class is in the workshop style class time where students can inquire about the lecture/video content, test their skills in applying knowledge and interact with classmates in hands-on activities. This shifts the focus of the class from the teacher onto the students, making learning intentionally learner-centred and allowing students to explore topics in greater depth, creating meaningful learning opportunities within the classroom. Teachers are able to provide instant feedback on student work and are on hand to help students and explain more difficult concepts. They are able to give support to students who traditionally may have struggled completing work at home due to lack of provision or guidance.

What Takes Place in the Classroom?
Class activities vary but may include:  in-depth laboratory experiments, using math manipulatives and emerging mathematical technologies, debate or speech presentation, current event discussions, original document analysis, project-based learning, peer reviewing, and skill development or concept practice. Because these types of active learning allow for highly differentiated instruction, more time can be spent in class on higher-order thinking skills such as problem-finding, collaboration, design and problem solving as students tackle difficult problems, work in groups, research, and construct knowledge with the help of their teacher and peers. A teacher's interaction with students in a flipped classroom can be less instructive and more personalised, and students are actively involved in knowledge acquisition and construction as they participate in and evaluate their learning.

In 2011 educators at Clintondale High School flipped every classroom. The school Principal led the effort to help teachers develop plans for flipped classrooms. He worked with the social studies teacher, to run two classes with identical material and assignments, one flipped and one conventional. The flipped class had many students who had already failed the class — some multiple times. After 20 weeks, students in the flipped classroom were outperforming students in the traditional classroom. Further to this, no students in the flipped classrooms scored lower than a C+, whereas the previous semester 13% had failed. The traditional classroom showed no change.

The next year when teachers used a flipped model in the 9th grade, the English failure rate dropped from 52% to 19%; in math, from 44% to 13%; in science, from 41%t to 19%; and in social studies, from 28% to 9%. After 2011 the now-flipped school's failure rate dropped from 30 to 10 percent. Graduation rates soared above 90 percent. College attendance went from 63% in 2010 to 80% in 2012.
Clintondale teachers found that shorter videos (3–6 minutes) were the most effective for students. The school uses audio files, readings and videos from the Khan Academy, TED and other sources. Students favoured the changes. Students unable to watch the videos at home watch the videos in school.

“In addition to flipping the classroom, we wanted to give our students the opportunity to learn about each subject or topic from someone who is a recognized expert in each area. So we decided to team with other schools across the country and world. Now, some of our calculus students are able to watch video lectures from a math teacher in a private school in Virginia, and our students learning about the Holocaust can watch videos made by a teacher in Israel who just brought her class to Auschwitz. This type of learning network will enable us to close the gap of inequality that schools are subjected to because of their financial standing, and provide all students, no matter what district they’re from, with information from the best teacher or expert in any field.” – Greg Green, Principal at Clintondale High School.

My Learning and the Flipped Classroom
The My Learning Fusion VLE provides an ideal platform for flipped learning, making content easily accessible across devices and locations. Teachers are able to upload or link to videos and resources in customised class and learning spaces, as well as having the option to create blogs and forums to encourage student interaction and discussion online as well as in the classroom. Content remains available for students to revisit for revision or consolidation and is also a great way of minimising the effects of student absences. Features such as ClusterPad, Content Library, MLTV, Blogs and Forums make Fusion the perfect platform for a Flipped Classroom.

Friday 22 April 2016

My Learning Launches New Release: v32 "Ocaria Thales"

The latest release of the My Learning platform focuses on streamlining the interface and creating a more responsive, fluid and enjoyable experience.

For our full release notes click here: Release Notes V32 Ocaria Thales

Major New Additions

New Responsive Design: 
The My Learning team have now merged the traditional desktop and tablet editions into one user interface meaning you can now use My Learning in exactly the same way on a desktop or a tablet device in any orientation or screen size.

Improved Page Speed:
We have introduced a 2nd level caching engine to the platform which has further increased the responsiveness of the application in both desktop and mobile editions. 

Audio Memos:
My Learning now has the ability to allow instant, on-demand sound recording. This can be used to create recordings directly within My Learning, and can also be used to store voice annotations and comments directly within files. Please see the release notes for information regarding compatibility with Apple devices.

This is a really exciting feature as not only can audio recordings be created and saved into the My Files area but audio memos can also be pinned to any file type within the VLE. Great for Teachers creating a commentary or students presenting their thoughts and opinions. Check out the Skills Blog for more information!

PDF Embedding:
You can now embed PDF files from the system into webpages and documents, a brilliant method of sharing school resources and documents.

Additional Metrics:
If your school is linked to an M.I.S (Management Information System), My Learning will now allow students to add a new dashboard panel which will display attendance, behaviour and reports. Timetables will now also show the name of the lesson.

Profile Editor:
Our team has entirely re-written the profile editor for My Learning. The layout and arrangement of buttons and functionality has been adjusted to reflect the manner in which Social Networking websites also operate. We have also added four additional moods.

Notification Manager:
My Learning has now introduced the first phase of it’s “Notification Manager”. This feature is an administrative module which enables the Administrator of each school to decide who can receive different types of notifications and how often they receive them. End-users (if allowed by the Notification Policy) are also allowed to further customise what type of notifications they receive.

Phase two of this feature will add support for Push Notifications to personal mobile devices.

For more details on other exciting features and updates in this release see the full release notes.