A Successful Virtual Learning Environment

by BTM

Tue, 02 June 2020

A Successful Virtual Learning Environment

A spokesman tells us British School Bahrain’s (BSB) virus response has made it more popular than ever.

By immediately switching to real-time teacher-led lessons and live teaching using world-class technology, BSB continues to deliver a full enriching curriculum. Our ethos is not distance learning, we are providing a virtual classroom experience, which incorporates live 1:1 and group interactions with teachers throughout the day.

For all students, aged three to 18, BSB immediately implemented a system, known as the BSB Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), designed using the experience and support of the Inspired global education group. All students can maintain their full education through remote access with live teaching and activities that promote independent learning, social development and enhance their 21st century skills. The BSB VLE is also designed to support parents through being flexible and easily accessible, whilst providing documents and videos to enable parents to guide their family’s education at home.

Young Learners
The youngest students access their learning material through a daily academic blog. Teachers set guided reading, literacy, phonics and numeracy activities. In addition, a daily challenge is set that develops 21st century skills and inquiry-based learning. All work submitted gets feedback through online live video conferencing with teachers, or through video feedback being sent to parents to watch with their child. Teachers and learning support assistants meet all pupils in a real-time setting to support the child’s learning through live feedback and reading sessions. A weekly whole school live-streamed assembly is an opportunity to celebrate the hard work, resilience and dedication of the students. 

Juniors and Seniors
The BSB Junior and Senior School students adhere to their normal school timetable and are greeted by their teacher every morning during ‘tutor time’, where students can log in and speak with their peers and Head of Year. Work is set that supports their learning but also requires limited parental engagement. These activities are designed to promote independent learning, which is supported through daily live-streamed teaching. Teachers use a combination of remote supervision and support through Google Classroom or more direct teaching through sector-leading BlueJeans video conferencing software. Weekly, year group virtual assemblies provide opportunities to promote the values of the school and for students to engage with each other.

Whilst BSB has established an outstanding virtual learning environment, the entire school community longs for the return to campus-based education when it is safe to do so. 

Every aspect of health, safety, education and pastoral support is being discussed and planned for.

The school is working through several scenarios ranging from the full immediate return of the entire school to a phased return of students at different times. Each scenario is accompanied by a detailed assessment of risk and will be discussed with parent groups before being implemented.

Going Forward
This experience has already transformed BSB so much including our pedagogical approaches and use of technology to assist learning. The Senior Leadership Team has identified many of the current practices that we will retain even when campuses are open. We believe it is important to continue to develop best practice, whilst also focussing on the future in a world free from COVID-19. Regular constructive feedback from BSB parents and students has shaped our online learning platform.

Our use of market-leading assessment software, Wiseflow, to conduct secure assessments, even whilst students are at home, has been a key development. This cutting-edge technology utilises facial recognition to ensure the student completes the task under examination conditions. This provision will also transform our future assessment systems. 

At BSB we believe that learning and progress do not stop when lessons end, therefore extracurricular activities are offered as part of the BSB Virtual Learning Environment. The Music, Food Technology, PE and Drama departments have continued to offer extra-curricular activities while the campus is temporarily closed.

The national and international success of BSB’s Virtual Learning Environment has further increased the popularity of the school within Bahrain and all around the world. Enrolment for the next academic year is as high as ever, with waiting lists in most year groups and assessments of pupils ongoing.

Staff have been asked to present at virtual conferences and support other schools in their pedagogical development. This reputation has led to increased enrolments from both local and expat families as far afield as the UK, South Africa and New Zealand.

The establishment of virtual tours and meetings with members of the school’s leadership team have aided families to get a feel of the school and its ethos. 

If you would like to learn more about BSB, you can book a virtual visit for a personal online introduction to the school.