Shireland Technology School uses technology as a ‘trojan horse for parents
A Peek Into Your Child’s Day
It’s a rite of passage, isn’t it? To come home to your parents’ “how was school today” probing, only to respond with a grunt, a complacent “fine” or a shrug. To be a fly on the wall during their children’s school day has been the wish of many parents the world over.
UK-based Shireland Technology Primary School tackled this age-old complaint by offering a “Trojan Horse” of sorts – a peek into the classrooms of their school, accessible anytime, anywhere for their parent community.
Shireland Technology is a brand new UK-based school. In fact, they opened in August 2020 during the height of COVID-19. Opening its doors during a pandemic presented obvious challenges, but also allowed dexterity on the part of staff and teachers since they were essentially working with a “blank canvas.”
School staff quickly learned that they needed to foster a meaningful connection with their parent community in order to launch successfully.
Using Tech To Build Trust With Parent Community
Shireland serves a community that is culturally rich, but socio-economically disadvantaged. Many families in the community approach schools tentatively, with a sense of distrust, and many parents’ work situations make physical involvement in their child’s school out of the question.
So, Shireland’s staff brought the school connection to them. They used a powerful technology suite comprised of Lumio, ClassDojo, and other programs to give parents a glimpse into their child’s day.
As Grundy points out, a tech-based connection empowered parents to be involved in their children’s days like never before, especially for the 45% of students at their school for whom English is a second language.
Being able to record a video or message that is then translated into the family’s primary language is a way of building a bridge of trust between the school and the parent community.
‘I Feel Like I’m Co-Parenting’
When COVID-19 restrictions required that the school quickly flip its learning model to one that was asynchronous and remote, the bridge of trust between parents and school truly paid off. Shireland parents created videos of their children learning and doing the activities so teachers and staff were able to have that window into their home lives as well.
Shireland parent Soraya Connor feels that the connection formed between her daughter, the teachers, and her as the parent have created an enriched community atmosphere for her daughter to grow up in.
Building A Safe Space For Students
It’s the glittering, shining star of the Shireland Technology Primary campus: “the immersive room.”
When the lights are off, it’s a room that looks like any other. Four walls, a ceiling, a door. But when the students watch their teachers power on the immersive program, the room reveals itself for what it really is: a portal for students to step into anywhere they can dream of.
Using panoramic surround display technology, the immersive room allows teachers to transport students to locations both real and fictional with the touch of a button.
Appealing To The Senses
The room is more than just a glorified projector - it has the ability to engage all five senses. Touchpoints on the floors and walls and scent technology for smells allow students to interact with the scene they’re immersed in.
And, according to principal Lady Kirsty Grundy, immersive learning is what it's all about.
Removing Barriers To Learning
From an access perspective, the immersive room breaks down almost every type of barrier that could possibly stop a student from getting to experience far-off and exotic places. Financial barriers become a non-issue. Special needs barriers immediately become surmountable.
And a worldwide pandemic? Still no match for the access the immersive room provides.
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