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A. Boddison, A. Thethi

University of Warwick (UNITED KINGDOM)
Online synchronous learning enables educators to leverage a number of opportunities for teachers to provide targeted support and to provide an interesting and stimulating environment for the most able learners. However, adopting a synchronous, online mode of delivery does also pose a range of challenges; for both the learners and the teaching team.

This paper reports on the findings from a pilot study commissioned by the Centre for Professional Education (CPE) at the University of Warwick. The target group for the pilot were learners nearing the end of Key Stage 2 (KS2); when pupils are about to move from primary to secondary school. The level 6 tests, (optional) have been made available to enable schools to stretch and demonstrate the abilities of the more able pupils. To date, most schools have largely relied on single-school, classroom-based, ‘booster’ lessons to help their learners prepare for the tests. The aims of the project were to evaluate the effectiveness of providing targeted preparation and support via an online virtual classroom.

The pilot involved a number of primary schools. Each partner school was provided with the necessary technology to enable their most able learners to access an online synchronous learning environment and indefinite access to the video library of recorded lessons. The online learning environment was designed to provide an opportunity for the students to interact with peers across the partnership whilst developing their problem solving skills and mathematical thinking skills.

The paper outlines the challenges encountered in managing a synchronous learning environment and the key outcomes for the project stakeholders; the students, the schools and the online teaching team.