Broad Horizon has been working with the IRIS Foundation since early 2020 and is helping the foundation on its way to better digital education with convenient solutions based on the Microsoft 365 platform.
Stichting IRIS is a foundation in Christian secondary education, to which seven secondary schools are affiliated. The foundation sees pupils and teachers as partners in the how and what of learning. IRIS stands for ‘learning tomorrow’. All of the foundation’s schools have an ICT coordinator who addresses ICT issues and leads the way to more digitisation in education.
Digitisation as a lasting success story
Digitisation has always been intended to enable personalisation and customisation in a classroom. This makes it possible to pay more attention to the qualities of the children. We speak with Abderrahim Chaouki and Koen Keunen (two of the ICT coordinators of Stichting IRIS) and Paul Ossewold (external programme manager) about the digitisation battle of recent months and the influence of disruptive times.
Coordinators to the rescue
Twelve March 2020 started as a normal day. Remko den Besten (Solution Architect Team Education at Broad Horizon) was scheduled to talk to the ICT department about a careful integration of Teams. When it became clear on the same day that the schools had to be closed, distance education immediately became necessary.
Paul: we immediately pumped up the team online and involved the ICT coordinators. You saw that the group level of the ICT coordinators became a priority, allowing them to give answers to the management and teachers. For us, the coordinators became a direct mouthpiece to the schools to manage expectations and gather information.
Koen: ICT-coördinatoren That first week was the sentiment at school of, well, why are the ICT boys so busy with Microsoft Teams, in a week’s time the school will be open again. And then it turned out to be a bit different. We didn’t make it compulsory to work with Teams, but we warmly recommended it, and in the end 80-85% of our teachers volunteered to teach via Teams.
Abderrahim: the Monday that the schools closed, I sat with the MT. We talked about what was needed to facilitate distance learning, about how parents and pupils should be approached. Teams had not yet been introduced at my school. We immediately started practicing with Teams that Monday. That actually went quite well. Now we only get positive messages. Colleagues come up with crazy ideas for the use of Teams. It turns out to be much easier than everyone thought.
Education after Corona
Koen: “We have made an inventory list, what can you do with it? Now we see the urgency of certain matters. I can now imagine, for example, that when we are back in the classroom, I will be able to use teams in other situations as well. For example, for meetings with colleagues, which is more pleasant from home. Or for a mentor who is at home with a broken leg but still wants to call his mentor class to see how they are doing.
Abderrahim: I can also imagine that we are going to use it for report meetings, or ten-minute conversations with parents. Then you don’t have to stay at school until 10:00 p.m. as a teacher.
Paul: some parents have already said that their children are very revived by this way of working, because for the first time they are allowed to organise their time themselves. It is very important to take this kind of feedback into the future.
Flexibility is the key to the future
Koen: we are also working on the significance of digitisation for education. For example, a colleague has written a working document on how to activate pupils via Teams, with all kinds of tips (play pimpampet, use digital post-its, record lessons to teach several classes the same lesson). You notice more and more that teachers are getting a taste for it and are also starting to realise that digital teaching has many advantages.
Abderrahim: the possibility of individualisation, which we want to develop even further. Through digital lessons (or parts of lessons) you also give students the confidence and the space to say, I already understand this, I will do this at another time.
Paul: if anything has been demonstrated in this recent period, it is the flexibility and adaptability of teachers. Now that the vast majority of teachers have become accustomed to digitisation, it would be a shame to fall back on old habits. The schools and the board of governors must now work together to determine what the new world of education will look like. In doing so, they can learn a lot from what has been experienced. It would be great if that were to take on a firm form.