As schools across Australia reimagine how they deliver education in a hybrid world, a core component of any successful strategy is the way in which feedback is delivered.
This series of blogs, called Feedback Fundamentals, will explore how digital learning platforms can close the feedback loop, foster engagement, and encourage agency among the three key stakeholders in any child’s learning journey – the student, the parent, and the educator.
We’ll also highlight the real-world benefits and positive learning outcomes of a hybrid education strategy built upon frequent and accessible feedback, with a case study of a local school who has taken such an approach and reaped the rewards.
Providing parents a window into the classroom
For many parents, the below exchange might seem eerily familiar:
Parent: “How was school today?”
Child: “It was okay.”
Parent: “What did you learn about?”
Child: “Sigh.” / “Lots of stuff.” / “What’s for dinner?” / All of the above.
Despite the feedback loop connecting learner, educator, and parent being critical to a child’s learning journey, keeping parents and guardians informed of their child’s progress has typically been ad-hoc and intermittent.
In the traditional face-to-face model of education, the opportunities for an educator to provide parents with insight into the learner’s progress have been limited to static summative reports (covered in our first Feedback Fundamentals blog), occasional parent-teacher nights, and perhaps a few minutes during drop-off or pick-up.
On the other hand, the insights a child provides to parents on their own education can be similarly limited, though not from a lack of opportunity. Rather, a learner’s feedback may be constrained by a lack of enthusiasm, fatigue after a day of learning, or even hunger – as the opening exchange shows.
During the height of 2020’s COVID-19 lockdowns and the rapid shift to remote learning, however, parents became de facto teachers as their children learned from home. As a result, parents were suddenly thrust into the centre of their child’s schooling and were given an unprecedented view into their education.
As education moves toward a hybrid delivery model, Learning Management Systems (LMS) and digital learning platforms offer schools an opportunity to provide parents with an ongoing window into their child’s learning – without the stress and disruption of suddenly becoming a substitute teacher.
With an LMS that integrates all elements of digital education – assessment, personalised feedback, portfolio items, discussion groups, etc. – schools can deliver more transformative, signature brand experiences with a strong and consistent communication channel with parents.
Brightspace for Parents, for example, allows parents to access teacher feedback in real-time, gain insight into the work their child is doing, and understand how their child is faring at school throughout the semester.
By giving parents their own personalised Brightspace profile, they’re able to increase engagement with their child’s learning through up-to-date information such as recent grades, upcoming work, and overdue alerts.
Further, parents can also receive a weekly email summary of their child’s activity to help with scheduling the week ahead – such as preparing for tests and ensuring assessments are submitted on time.
Providing parents and caregivers this 360-degree view of their child’s learning journey can help lead to better student outcomes, but the digital learning tools a school uses should first be integrated within the one environment.
A common pitfall many Australian schools have encountered is that unconnected point solutions are being used for different elements of the education experience – one tool for collaboration, another for assessment, and so on.
By combining all these digital tools within a single, unified environment, all three key stakeholders – parents, learners, and educators – benefit. Parents can be offered unparalleled insight into their child’s progress, the student experience is simplified with a single platform to access everything the learner needs, and educator workload is reduced as the need to navigate and master multiple platforms is removed.
This final point is particularly important. With a single platform, educators and principals can have a single source of truth with all the data and insights related to learning outcomes available at their fingertips. We’ll cover this topic in more detail in our third and final blog in the Feedback Fundamental series, so stay tuned.