Reimagining School Together with ISS CHALLENGES: What practices should carry forward from online learning?

POSTED: August 26, 2020Category: Articles, COVID-19BY: AISA Admin

By John Burns, ISS Chief Innovation Officer

COVID-19 has forced schools to rethink how they operate, educators to reimagine their practice, and students to adapt and learn in new ways. To scale these new practices, we opened our innovation platform ISS CHALLENGES to educators around the globe, posing this question: “What new practices should schools keep or implement as a result of our experience with online learning?”

The response was tremendous. Not only did educators submit fantastic ideas, but they also supported others in developing their thinking. Across the many entries emerged six broad themes schools should continue to engage with:

Parental engagement

Schools reported a significant increase in parent engagement due to accessible technology and efforts to create learning partnerships. Suggestions included:

  • Giving parents the option of online or in person student led conferences
  • Regularly inviting parents to virtually join the classroom as subject matter experts or learning support staff

Learner agency

Learning at home showed the importance of students asynchronously working on projects of interest, and of community members sharing their passions. Ideas included:

  • Dedicating a significant block of time every week to a student passion project
  • Providing an a-la-carte list of STEAM, SDG or other focused challenges for students to choose from

Authentic learning

Online learning brought the world into classes and open classes up to the world. Suggestions included:

  • Participating in virtual field trips which are abundant and free online
  • Using learning portfolios to showcase student work, and encourage discourse with the wider community

Low-tech, sustainable solutions

Some of the most meaningful learning happens offline, beyond the formal curriculum. Ideas included:

  • Creating urban farms. These can spring up even in apartments and high rise living
  • No-tech days to encourage physical activity and other learning opportunities

Student-centric design

Schools need to reflect students’ needs, rather than have students accommodate the standard design of schools. Suggestions included:

  • Providing more asynchronous opportunities. For example, shift school timetables to reflect the needs of different groups of learners
  • Use social media more as a mechanism, for both student engagement as well as learning showcase

Faculty support

School closures catalyzed incredible global collaboration. Ideas to keep up this momentum include:

  • Snapshot professional learning experiences co-created by staff and shared with other schools worldwide
  • Transfer faculty onboarding and orientation to an online mode

ISS will continue to launch new challenges for educators and students through 2020-21. Keep an eye on and #ISSedu on social media to get involved!

About International Schools Services (ISS)

ISS, an AISA Strategic Partner, is a leading nonprofit with more than 60 years of experience in international education. Whether it’s developing and managing world-class international schools, staffing schools, ordering equipment and supplies, performing accounting functions, or supporting best-in-class teaching and learning approaches, ISS provides the full range of services necessary for your school to thrive and deliver an outstanding global education to your students.

About John Burns, ISS Chief Innovation Officer

John focuses on sparking creativity and innovation across ISS learning communities. He has worked on founding and designing both LEVEL 5 China and LEVEL 5 Bahrain, agile spaces for design thinking in education. John has developed apps featured worldwide, and has also previously worked for Apple in assisting schools with organizational change.


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