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Moving teaching online: challenges and opportunities

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Given current events we wanted to hear from a group of educators about their experiences of shifting learning online at short notice. The challenges and opportunities they have encountered as well as their recommendations of tools, approaches and content.

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Below, you’ll find notes relating to ideas and reading discussed in the episode, you can also view a full transcript of this episode.

Throughout this episode our guests, eager to support their fellow educators shared many ideas for approaches, tools, software and support, which we've collated below:

  • For creating virtual classrooms or communities, Google Classroom came out as a valuable tool that many schools are turning to at this time. There are of course other tools like Microsoft Teams and as James mentioned Tapestry for younger learners.
  • Other collaborative tools that were discussed included Jamboard from google which allows users to collaborate on a virtual whiteboard area. Bitpaper was also mentioned as a similar tool, as was Liveboard.
  • The above tools may support teacher -> pupils collaboration but as Jane pointed out, a simple shared document is often all you need to promote collaboration.
  • Schools are overcoming the potential safeguarding challenges and using video tools to communicate with learners. There are many of these: from Google Meet (or Hangouts) and Microsoft teams which schools likely already have access to as an organisation, plus a range of other tools including Zoom.
  • Other video tools include Flipgrid, which can be used for asynchronous video communication and interaction, and screen recorders such as LOOM, which can be used to capture demonstrations or on screen tutorials.
  • For assessment, whether formative or summative, several tools were mentioned from light touch assessments using tools like Kahoot! and Quizlet to more structured learning platforms like Seneca or Isaac Computer Science which use questioning to drive learning.
  • For teaching content there were a number of places our guests recommended for either self contained activities or teacher directed tasks. Tynker, Code Combat and Purple Mash were recommended as self contained activities for learners. Whereas for more structured and progress focused activities you may want to look at the NCCE resources, or the Raspberry Pi foundation's Digital making at home programme and related projects.
  • An important theme was teacher collaboration, finding time to connect with peers, whether immediate colleagues or educators facing similar challenges across the world. Cat mentioned the GEG Global classroom and Steve uses Facebook workplace for team chats. There are also online meet-ups such as #caschat & #csedresearchbookclub and many CAS communities of Practices have moved to online meetings.
  • And finally to paraphrase Jane, in this challenging time we have needed to act rapidly to ensure teaching and learning continues. Moving forward we should each focus on getting one thing working (well) and consider the associated pedagogy before attempting the next thing.


James Robinson
Senior Learning Manager
Raspberry Pi Foundation

Cat Lamin
Former Primary teacher
EdTech Consultant

Steve Rich
Teacher of Computing
Ada, National College for Digital Skills

Jane Waite
Teacher trainer and researcher
Queen Mary University of London

James Richardson
Assistant Headteacher
Bewick Bridge Community Primary School

Jude Slama
Teacher of Computer Science