eLearning: How Coronavirus Could Change the Future of Education

Published: July 30, 2020

Online learning has become increasingly vital to the education sector since the onset of COVID-19, but what lessons can we take from this shift away from the classroom? Like so many other effects of Coronavirus on our society, few could have foreseen the reliance on laptops, virtual learning and study portals from schools, colleges and universities. 
With this enormous shift towards students learning at home, have we taken a step closer to eLearning platforms earning their qualifications as the flexible new future of education? 
It seems certain that the changes we are experiencing in learning environments will have a lasting impact on academia, with the positives of the shift towards online education resources becoming clear ⁠— as well as assessments about what still needs to change to drive effectiveness.
Let’s take a look at how much higher education courses may focus on eLearning and remote learning in the future, especially in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Innovation and Online Learning Systems

In recent years, many schools and universities have successfully moved towards an increased use of Learning Management Systems (LMSs) and Virtual Learning Environment (VLEs). As these platforms have continued to grow and become increasingly common, their evolution provided a fantastic grounding for learning during lockdown
These digital channels provided a ready-made solution for schools, colleges and universities who needed to reach students online and communicate over long distances. It’s hard to disagree with the idea that without the technological advances available in the education sector, navigating this incredibly difficult situation may have been almost impossible. 
From education software all the way through to apps for schools, it’s heartening that there are so many practical and innovative approaches being taken to aid teaching and learning. 

Changes to Exams and Qualifications

The sudden and intense escalation of lockdown following the arrival of COVID-19 in the UK led to immediate challenges for teachers and lecturers. One of the most pressing issues was around how to solve the dilemma of exams for students who would ordinarily have been sitting for their written assessments this spring. So how has this unforeseen difficulty been approached?

Examinations in Higher Learning 

One way around this dilemma that’s been taken up by institutions including the University of York is sharing exam questions via their VLE and emailing them directly to students. A fixed time frame was given to students to complete the work, which they then completed using a word processor or other software, before submitting their work online to be marked.

Qualifications in Schools and Colleges 

In contrast, exam boards for GCSEs, A Levels and AS Levels reached out to schools, colleges and other exam centres, asking them to submit a ‘centre assessment grade’ for students in each of their subjects. Essentially, that meant asking for predictions of the grades they would likely have achieved, based on evidence such as classwork, non-exam assessments and mock exams results.
Both of these approaches reveal fascinating possibilities for the future, showing signs of how the education sector can adapt quickly — with technology often leading the way. It will be fascinating to see how the education sector builds on these new ways of working, as well as observing what other noteworthy innovations arise.

Boosting Students’ Access to Digital Texts

One way publishers have been able to help learners during the pandemic is by giving university libraries increased access to online texts. This is a boost to both students and lecturers, helping to ensure everyone has the necessary resources to ease the disruption to their studies. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see expanded access to digital books and journals continue for some time to come.
The library at King’s College London shows one example of this process in action. Although their website makes clear this is a temporary solution, a telling paragraph advises students that any feedback received about the extra availability of resources is ‘useful and can feed into future decisions’. This shows how shifting approaches brought on by necessity could lead to outcomes with the potential for great positive change.

Ensuring Equality to Address the ‘Digital Divide’

An important consideration as we move towards increased levels of online learning is making sure everyone can access the tools and resources they need. Universal access to fast broadband is an idea that has gained increased traction during lockdown, with plans put in place between BT and the Department of Education to temporarily provide free broadband access to disadvantaged young people, so they can study online.
A further issue to consider is the possibility of making equipment like laptops available, helping to make sure everyone is able to access online learning resources and no-one is left behind. The UK government has already put plans in place for distributing equipment to vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils, which is a truly encouraging step.

There are clear signs that the future of education is increasingly virtual, and it’s essential that we continue to build at scale to create a level playing field for students of all backgrounds. 
How do you see the future of teaching changing in the current circumstances? Do you have any examples of inspiring successes that involve using technology to benefit students? Get in touch with us on Twitter or LinkedIn to share your stories.

Different types of observation methods in early years of education

Category: Technologies

Published: May 23, 2019

Observation is the key to understanding young children and finding out more about them as individuals. It is a fundamental aspect of the assessment and planning cycle, and provides a firm basis for reflection.

The process is crucial in helping parents or practitioners address the needs of early childhood development. Both parties have to work together to understand and meet a child’s individual needs by learning from each other and sharing with one another.

Observation is about watching children and noticing their actions, expressions, behaviours and interactions. The observations must take place on a regular basis – perhaps daily – in order to provide an insight to how they are developing, what they like doing and what they are learning through their play and life experiences. It’s important for parents and practitioners to share every detail so that it can be decided whether the child’s development is at the expected stage.

Observations of children in early years are vital, as each child has a unique set of abilities and talents. By observing what the child chooses to do and what resources they enjoy playing with provides reliable information about who they are as individuals. It can also provide an opportunity to determine the need of the child and therefore plan the next steps in their learning.

Some examples of what you may find out from observations are:

  • What children enjoy and what their interests are
  • Friendships they may have developed
  • Identifying specific learning needs
  • The child’s well-being
  • Particular areas of development – physical, intellectual, social, emotional
  • To get to know a child better

What are the best types of observation methods in early years of childhood?

Documentation of observations should be recorded regularly and should be as detailed as possible, noting what was seen and heard. Here are some different types of observation methods that will help the needs of early childhood development:

Anecdotal records

This method involves factual accounts of events that have taken place. Anecdotal records should be written in the past tense and cover the three W’s: What, When and Where? Other non-verbal cues such as body language, reactions and facial expressions should be included in an event.

Running records

This method involves noting down what you see and what the child says as it is happening. It should be written in present tense and include as much detail as possible.

Time samples

This involves recording observations about the child’s behaviour and what the child is doing at specific times. This can be done at regular intervals and can be helpful when identifying negative behaviour, as it allows understanding of the context surrounding a situation.


This involves jotting down brief sentences detailing important events, behaviours and conversations.

Work samples

Work samples include the child’s paintings, drawings, writings, figures and other crafty creations. You should also take down some notes detailing what the child said or did surrounding these work samples.


Images of the child, complete with annotations and descriptions about what was taking place when the image was taken, provide vital insight to who the child is as an individual.

Documenting learning is another way of creating a narrative about the child’s achievements. Providing evidence of a child’s learning recorded through observations and examples of children’s work, kept in a portfolio or folder, is well established in early years.

It is important that in using different observational techniques, parents and practitioners are clear about the purpose of what they are doing and that the observational processes are matched to this aim.

Learner Journey helps teachers capture videos and pictures of pupils alongside being able to comment about the image with an instant speech to text function. They can then grade the child’s progress with drop down boxes in all the EYFS areas. The observation then notifies the parent via the mobile app. Contact us today for a free demo.

How to monitor children’s development using different methods

To monitor children’s development in early years, you can use various methods. Observe their play, behavior, and growth regularly. Take note of their physical, cognitive, social, and emotional behaviors. Talk to parents and caregivers to get insights. Use developmental checklists and screening tools. Document their work and projects over time. Track language skills, social and emotional development, and academic progress. Assess physical growth with growth charts. For children with special needs, create individualized plans. Seek expert help if needed. Remember, each child is unique, and development varies, so be patient and attentive to their needs.

Closing the Gender Gap in Literacy

Published: July 19, 2016

As a retired primary teacher I find it unsurprising that numerous studies show a gender gap where girls are significantly outperforming boys in literacy. One of the latest studies, commissioned by Save the Children, has found that the female advantage is established even before they step foot in the classroom. Understanding the Gender Gap in Literacy and Language Development was undertaken by researchers from Bristol University’s Graduate School of Education. Apparently in the 2014/15 school year, one in four boys were behind in language at age five and started Reception without being able to follow simple instructions or speak a full sentence. The report also states that for those children who start school behind, few will catch up.

While the gap appears to exist for all socio-economic groups, it was wider for those children eligible for free school lunches. Whereas the overall ratio was 25% of boy starters unable to answer simple “how” and “why” questions compared to 14% of girls, this escalated to 35% and 23% for lower income families. Several of the schools where I taught had ‘breakfast clubs’ before school, run by volunteers. It was a sad fact that this club was bursting at the seams. Whether this was simply due to poor time management by parents or because of economic factors, cereal and toast were gobbled up greedily. Once the children’s blood sugar levels rose, behaviour improved and they stayed on task longer. But where gender difference is concerned, evidence from the Save the Children study couldn’t definitively point to biological, developmental or social causes. An earlier study in 2008 by the Institute of Education (part of the Millennium Cohort Study) found that for both sexes attainment was better for children with two working parents, particularly if they held qualifications. Pupils in stepfamilies or with one parent had lower achievement.
Department for Education
The DfE produced a report in 2009 entitled Gender and Education – Mythbusters Addressing Gender and Achievement: Myths and Realities where they tended to refute most of the gender gap findings, however the evidence spoke for itself when it came to girls attaining higher in English. At key stage two, the gap is considerably wider for writing than reading but this is hardly news to me, as I repeatedly felt like I was hitting my head against a brick wall trying to get boys to write. The DfE say that increased provision has been made for Early Years practitioners to try and redress the gender gap but is it too little, too late?
I recall an old study that maintained girls were better communicators because female babies tended to be carried facing inwards, whereas boys faced outwards. Facing inwards allowed babies to see their parents’ faces and be spoken to directly. They would learn to read facial expressions and understand nuance more quickly than if carried outwards. Somewhat controversially, the Save the Children study advocates treating boys more like girls. Girls tend to be sung to and have nursery rhymes recited to them. The researchers want to boys to experience this in equal measures, as well as having storybooks read to them and being given rewards for good performance. More creative activities such as painting and drawing are also seen as a way to help with cognitive development. But is it fair to lay all the blame at parents’ feet for the gender gap in attainment? Schools need to build a trusting relationship with parents and carers, working with them to promote the importance of one-on-one activities at home. Pupils need to be taught the value of being self-reliant and independent learners, which will raise self-esteem.
Role Models
There are relatively few male Early Years practitioners in UK schools. It’s more typical for men to teach at secondary level, with a view to obtaining headships. With so many single parent families where dad is seldom seen, a positive male role model is vital. In my last primary school they had no less than four male teachers out of 12, one of whom was in Early Years. This state school had some of the best behaviour I’d experienced and the male teachers certainly contributed to that. They provided a different caring style and allowed children to see a more natural gender mix, representative of society. Surely the DfE should do more to recruit male teachers into primary and particularly Early Years.
Methods of Delivery
There is little doubt that even the youngest pupils relate to technology, as it can be exciting and varied. In my KS1 class, while girls would often grab a book and sit in the reading corner, the boys competed for the two computers where they could play games, albeit with an educational objective. More provision should be made at Foundation Stage for pupils to have access to a virtual learning environment. Lower achievers could work through specially designed modules to help them catch up with language skills. As many schools may not have the funds to provide sufficient portable devices to use, a BYOD (bring your own device) policy could be introduced, so that pupils could bring in a tablet or smartphone from home. If boys are more reluctant to read and write, interactive storyboards and gamification could provide the catalyst needed to spark their interest. The beauty of BOYD is that any elearning content can be easily accessed at home as well as at school, hopefully encouraging parents to get more invested in their children’s education.

The importance of learning spelling in the age of technology

Published: April 7, 2016

The importance of spelling

Learning how to spell words is one of the most useful lifelong skills and it builds the basic foundation that all children will need throughout their education and life in general. Learning how to spell is very important for other basic skills, including writing and reading. These skills support children in achieving good results and progressing through various grades. What is more, being good at spelling may have an impact on the future careers of students.

One of the hot topics surrounding the education sector also relates to learning spelling in schools. The introduction of compulsory spelling tests for all key stage 2 pupils in England is expected to improve the literacy of students.

The new spelling tests are justified by making sure the students are prepared for the secondary school. This is expected to eventually improve the standards of learning and to raise England’s position in reading and writing. However, it has caused a number of negative responses in terms of being unnecessary and putting too much pressure on pupils, causing stress or even discriminating against students who might have special learning requirements caused my mental health.

Another point that some people make against spelling tests or even against teaching spelling in school is based on the irrelevance of learning how to spell in the age of technologies.

How technologies affect the way students learn to spell?

The rise of different learning technologies causes discussions on how they could be used to support education in schools. Some people see endless opportunities in how modern technologies could benefit education, while others only see the negatives associated with technologies or even believe that technology should be banned in schools. Talking about the relationship between spelling and modern technologies, most of us are familiar with ‘autocorrect’ on our smartphones or other online resources for checking spelling. Does that mean that that it is less important for students to learn spelling at school?

Having good spelling skills is just as important as it was before different technologies were available. Although technologies provide great alternative ways for practicing spelling, it should not be assumed that learning how to spell is less relevant nowadays. Mobile phones correct our spelling and if we are not sure how to spell something, it is easy to check it online. However, different learning technologies should be seen as opportunities for learning and practising spelling and we should not encourage students to view technology as a replacement for their own thinking as there will always be situations where technology might not be available.

It is clear that it is very important to learn how to spell and it should not be considered less important in the age of technology. However, it might be worth focusing more on teaching spelling in many different ways and helping students achieve high standards without causing unnecessary stress by making them take complicated tests for spelling.

Top characteristics of a 21st century classroom

Published: March 31, 2016

How do you imagine a modern 21st century classroom? The reality is that the school environment in which most students learn remains old-fashioned in terms of how the classroom is designed and how the students learn. There are many things that could help modernise the classroom as well as to improve teaching and learning. The improvements you can make for your classroom range from simply changing seating arrangements to integrating latest technologies into the classroom. There is no right answer and every school should choose what works for their classrooms. Here are some characteristics of a modern 21st century classroom.

Technology integration

This is probably the most obvious solution for creating a modern classroom. Integrating technology into the classroom can make learning more fun and engaging and it can help to provide students with essential skills that will prepare them for the environment they will enter as modern day workers.

For instance, there is a number of easily accessible online learning resources that could be used for learning languages, practicing spelling or learning maths. You can also experiment with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) where you allow your students to use their own devices for learning. This is a great way to encourage independent learning as well as for creating personalised learning plans. Not to mention the enthusiasm and excitement created by letting students use their own devices! Gamification is another amazing tool for creating a fun atmosphere in the classroom and for encouraging collaborative learning.

Flexible learning environment

Consider experimenting with seating arrangements and see what works best for your students. Think about whether your classroom layout and seating arrangements have a positive impact on learning. For instance, a traditional arrangement of the classroom where teacher is at the front and students are in rows facing the same direction, might not be the best solution for encouraging collaboration.

What is more, learning can take place anywhere and should not be limited to staying in the classroom all the time. Use other school facilities or other locations to make learning more engaging. Remember that a change to physical environment is believed to encourage creativity and collaborative work.

Teacher as facilitator

Most classrooms consist of tables and chairs, usually arranged so that children face a teacher and the teacher is considered as the source of all knowledge. However, the role of educators in the 21st century has evolved. That does not mean that the role of a teacher is less important. What it means is that teachers are expected to become facilitators in terms of inspiring students to take ownership in their own learning by providing them with opportunities to learn key concepts and to discover the tools they need for learning.

Collaborative learning

Learning through collaboration is one of the most effective forms of learning. As mentioned before, there are many ways for encouraging collaboration in the classroom. It can be done by integrating technology and using tools like gamification or engaging in discussions on social media. Other collaborative learning activities include group projects, debates or peer reviews. All these different activities are great for developing collaboration as well as for improving other useful skills like problem solving, creativity and critical thinking.

Although, there are many different ways in which any classroom can be changed to meet the needs of modern learners, technology plays a big role in developing most of these characteristics for modern classrooms. If you are interested in learning about the evolution of technology in schools, check our infographic here.

Should you be using social media in the classroom?

Published: March 9, 2016

Today we are sharing some ideas about how social media could be used in the classroom and how it can benefit your classroom and your school.

Connecting, communicating and sharing. Connect and communicate with other classrooms through social media. Connect and share resources with other teachers from your school or from other schools. You can also use hashtags to facilitate guest speaker discussions.

Improving teamwork. Use social media for class discussions. Create a private group for discussing a particular topic or engage in open discussions.

Engagement. Engage with students, parents and communities by posting updates regarding school news and events

Learning. Share online learning resources with students. Add links to useful websites, videos and documents online. Encourage students to share useful learning materials with their peers.

Staying up to date. Require students to post news related or any other trending articles. This activity encourages students to read relevant articles every day.

Sharing. Use social media platforms to share the work of your students. Publish interesting articles, presentations or other projects that your students create.

Increasing awareness of your school. Sharing links to your school website on social media can help increase the search engine rankings which means that your school website attracts more visitors that can lead to more people choosing your school.

To conclude, it is worth looking at different methods of incorporating social media in the classroom. It does not have to become a permanent thing, give it a go and maybe you will discover something that really helps to engage with students. Make sure you always educate your students how to use social media safely.

Ways to integrate technology in the modern classroom

Published: February 25, 2016

As discussed previously, integrating technology in the classroom helps to improve engagement, it encourages individual and collaborative learning, provides students with useful life skills as well as it benefits teachers in many ways.

Social media

Most students are already using social media outside the classroom. Embracing social media in the classroom can instantly engage with students and to make learning more fun. For instance, Twitter or Facebook can be used to start a discussion on a particular topic. You can also use social media for making school related announcements, posting reminders about deadlines, uploading pictures or videos.


Blogging is a great way to  promote collaborative learning and to encourage open reflection by letting students share their work with others. What is more, blogging helps to develop reading and writing skills. Blog can be used for homework, assignments or for discussing topics of interest.


Podcasts can be very useful for recording lessons or for providing students with additional learning materials. There are many ways that podcasts could be used in the classroom. For example, recording a class discussion, reviewing a book, conducting interviews or broadcasting classroom news.

Video conferencing

Using video conferencing in the classroom creates exciting opportunities. Students can make friends by interacting with other students in different countries or they can learn by participating in virtual seminars with guest lecturers.

Online resources for learning and assignments

Teachers can test students by using online resources or they can make studying more fun by letting students undertake online quizzes to practice different subjects online.

Use videos

Videos can be used for demonstrating practical examples related to subjects taught in the classroom as well as for providing different approaches to subjects. Videos are useful for making learning more fun and engaging and these are the factors that lead to increased knowledge retention.


Consider elements of gamification to improve the way you deliver the teaching content. The main idea behind gamification in the classroom is to increase motivation through engagement by using elements of video games. Some of the ways to gamify your classroom include: gamification of grading, awarding students with badges, using educational games, implementing a rewards system or gamifying homework.

If you want to learn more about different ways of incorporating technology in the classroom, contact the Webanywhere team.

The Evolution of Technology in Schools [Infographic]

Published: January 26, 2016

There’ve been several significant advancements in educational technology over the past few years. From filmstrips to tablets and learning management systems, technology keeps changing in an extremely fast pace and reshaping the way everyone views education.

We have put together some of the greatest innovations for the classroom as it’s important to remember where it all started. Enjoy!

Why the PiZero Matters to Teachers

Published: November 27, 2015

Image taken from Element14

Today, Raspberry Pi announced and launched the PiZero, a tiny £4 computer that can be reprogrammed for a variety of purposes and can even run programs like Minecraft. It’s an astonishingly tiny and cheap computer, and it opens up the possibilities for coding in the classroom.
The machine is so small and cheap that they’re even willing to give it away for free on the cover of MagPi magazine, meaning the tiny tech toy will be one of the most easily-acquirable computers ever made. This is something that your average KS2 pupil can buy with their pocket money, and it opens up a world of technology that will help them become the coders and programmers of the future.

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