Early Preparation the Key for Online Success during School Closures

A pre-emptive strategy by Seton College’s Technology Manager meant that the College was more prepared than many schools in Queensland for the eventuality of learning from home during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Foreseeing the possibility of school closures as pandemic numbers began to climb in Australia, IT Manager Mike Dwyer recommended in mid-March to Principal Warren Bath that staff begin intensive training in the Microsoft suite of online interfaces.
Mr Dwyer, in regular contact with academic colleagues in his native United Kingdom, recognised that much of Europe was “completely unprepared” for school closures and the possibility of learning at home. He recommended preparing staff immediately for remote learning and teaching, focusing on the tools directly available to staff at Seton College: Teams, OneNote, and the screen recorder in PowerPoint. These tools are powerful in the class environment and easy to master.
As one of only 100 Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts in Australia, Mr Dwyer spearheaded three levels of professional development for teaching staff: beginners, intermediate and advanced users.
“We scaffolded the training for our teachers, just as we scaffold and develop personalised learning plans for our students at Seton College,” Mr Dwyer said. “The goal for each teacher was that they would become completely confident with the technology available to them by the end of Term One.”
“We had the resources at our fingertips.  We just needed to respond quickly to the possibility of school closure and initiate staff training as quickly as possible to ensure 100 percent uptake of the technology.”
Principal Warren Bath commended Mr Dwyer for his early response to the possibility of school closures and noted that teaching staff were committed to fully adopting online learning and teaching methods.
“Our teachers were familiar with the technologies available to them, already utilising them to varying degrees,” Mr Bath said.  “But it was Mike (Dwyer) who recognised the need for wholesale professional development across various platforms in the event schools were closed.
“Without doubt, our readiness for the alternative provision of learning and teaching in Term Two went as smoothly as possible as a result.”