GEMS Education: Courses
Author: Helen Loxston-Baker
History Courses ‘Flow’ Through My Learning
“My Learning is a fantastic tool for creating independent and personalised learning for students, which is why I decided to create an online course for Year 8 History,” explains Helen Loxston-Baker, Assistant Director of Arts, Humanities, Sports and Leisure at GEMS Wellington Academy – Silicon Oasis. “The students were used to using devices for home learning, but I wanted to incorporate the use of digital technology further into lessons. The key topic for the unit was the Tudors, with a focus on the use of propaganda through portraits.”
The course function within My Learning allows for a personalised approach to learning for the students as they can work at their own pace, while still having to stick to deadlines. This allows them to manage their time and become independent in their learning. The use of instructional videos is essential to teach students key information or to explain historical concepts and skills. This adds a personal touch for students who still have contact with their teacher, who they can pause, rewind or stop as many times as needed until they master the learning required.
The course flow function within My Learning is fantastic for giving the students a clear route to take through the course as each activity is presented to them as a step-by-step guide. The multi-media forum also enables students to discuss their thoughts and ideas across the whole of Year 8, which is made up of 240 students. By using the forum, students can connect with their peers in ways they would not ordinarily be able to do. This innovative approach to teaching has empowered students to think critically and creatively, while taking genuine ownership of their learning.
The response from the students has been overwhelmingly positive, with Juliana of Year 8 commenting: “I’ve enjoyed most getting to communicate with other people and learning what they know about Tudor portraits. It doesn’t feel like I’m studying, I’m having fun. I get to draw my portrait and explain what I’m good at through my portrait.”
Fellow student Jordi was equally enthusiastic: “The thing that I enjoyed the most was creating my portrait and making the video. It was fun, as I could get all my ideas together, go with the flow and just create what I like.”
Engagement in lessons is high and some students are so engrossed that they have completed the work for the lesson at home, before they have even arrived at school. A fantastic problem for a teacher to have!
My Learning provides the opportunity to stretch and challenge the students in lessons, further broadening and deepening their understanding and thinking about the topic. Year 8 student Lewis explained: “I like the course on My Learning. It was well structured and was really informative. It was easy to use and imaginative. It was quite a new way of learning. I haven’t used anything like My Learning before. To be able to access courses through My Learning and different resources really helped me understand the topic. The main strength of the course was to use our own initiative and to work at your own speed.”
Parents were also excited by this new learning opportunity, with one exclaiming: “I found the presentation really emotional, as my son had put his heart and soul into the work.”