WISS Today Article

At the Western International School of Shanghai, we were mandated to close our campus and switched over to e-learning at the beginning of February 2020. As the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) spreads around the world, more and more schools globally are being forced to move to online learning. We’d like to share the platforms we have used for online learning during the Coronavirus outbreak.

As a school that has been through this uncertain period of quarantine and the resulting e-learning, we hope that wherever you are in the world, this list of platforms for online learning helps your teachers, parents, students, and school leadership during this time.

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These five platforms have helped our school transition to online learning, and helped our entire school community stay connected, and able to learn/teach remotely from around the world. You can also read more about how our school has prioritized safety without sacrificing education during coronavirus.

Best Platform for Managing Online Learning: Managebac

What is ManageBac?

ManageBac is a platform used in over 10,000 schools in 130 countries and supports schools globally by providing integrated planning, learning, teaching, assessment, and reporting. This platform helped us enhance communication between our school and parents and students.

WISS Classroom

What our teachers have to say about their experience with ManageBac?

“ManageBac is really solid for communication between students, teachers, and parents, as it allows for a space that everyone is comfortable with. It has allowed me to create tasks and messages for the students, to submit grades, and give timely feedback. Students have used it to contact me in a timely fashion, which allows me to resolve any issues they may have as quickly as possible.” –John Slack, MYP Science

WISS Students

Best Platform for Face-to-Face Instruction: Zoom

What is Zoom?

Zoom is an easy, reliable web-based video platform. Zoom provides video conferencing, group messaging, online meetings, and content sharing and video recording all in one place.

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What our teachers have to say about their experience with Zoom?

“After two weeks of online learning, it became apparent to all that additional contact was needed.  Zoom was suggested as an option for either recorded lessons or live meetings. I began to schedule live meetings with my classes to ascertain how the online process was going for them and to answer questions about the work.  Many students have responded well and appreciate the opportunity to have a conversation with their teacher and their peers.” – Vanessa Ness, English Language Teacher

“I really like Zoom and have found it very helpful. It has brought me closer to traditional face-to-face contact with the students. Student feedback has been very positive as they also prefer interaction with their teacher and seeing their classmates. I am able to physically explain by sharing my screen with the students and using a whiteboard and talking through my camera.” –Peter Grimwood, Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS) / Science Teacher

Best Platform for Documenting Student Learning: Storypark

What is Storypark?

Storypark is an online service that helps teachers, parents, and families record, share, and extend children’s learning. You can capture a child’s development by posting photos, videos, stories, moments, notes, and responses. Storypark helps families engage in learning and record student’s progress and development.

WISS students learning

What our teachers have to say about their experience with Storypark?

“Storypark can be used to give activities and instructions. It’s useful because you can post multimedia content to support students. In a typical post, I include written and video instructions, pictures, and PDF templates. Using a variety of materials and formats makes learning more accessible to students. Students can comment on posts when they have questions, and teachers can also give feedback by commenting on work that students submit on Storypark.” – Kyra Springer, Grade 5 Homeroom Teacher

Best Platform for Class Discussions: Flipgrid

What is Flipgrid?

Flipgrid is a social learning platform that allows educators to ask questions that students then respond to in videos. Students can also respond to one another and react to each other’s videos, creating a “web” of discussion.

Teacher and student working together at WISS

What our teachers have to say about their experience with Flipgrid?

“Seventeen students and two teachers in a Grade 5 class began their e-learning experience on Monday, 3 February. The class connected with one another after their 2-week vacation via Flipgrid. Students checked in from 10 countries and shared their experiences and feelings and left video replies with words of encouragement on the videos of their peers. As teachers, we were impressed with the deep connections and empathetic responses shared by the students. This was just the beginning of an amazing journey with e-learning. Each day the students are strengthening important skills and are becoming more flexible.” – Libby Cotter, Grade 5 Homeroom Teacher

Best Platform for Student Engagement: Seesaw

What is Seesaw?

Seesaw is a platform for student engagement. Teachers can empower students to create, reflect, share, and collaborate. Each student gets their own digital journal and will add things to it, like photos, videos, drawings, or notes.

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What our teachers have to say about their experience with Seesaw?

“We use Seesaw for almost everything! The platform is adaptable to nearly all learning. Here is a short list of what we use it for:

  • Creating activities and attaching pdf’s or templates (which can be printed or completed digitally through Seesaw’s many interactive tools for students)
  • Scheduling work to go live at specific times throughout the day to balance screen time.
  • Assigning offline work by giving detailed instructions, including written, verbal, and video instructions on the platform first
  • Giving announcements
  • Posting of students work in designated folders for timely/immediate feedback
  • Student communication including teacher and peer feedback
  • Social engagement 
  • Student work evidence bank and formative assessment tool for future planning

As you can see, it is very versatile and easy to use for students and parents.” – Gavin Jack, Grade 3 Homeroom Teacher

“Seesaw is a great learning platform for the children to be able to respond independently to the learning assignments set by the teacher.  We post daily tasks with both written and recorded instructions. The children can easily share their learning and often respond using a template, submitting their responses with a simple click of a button. Seesaw has fantastic features that allow the children to respond to tasks with videos, drawings, text, and audio recordings.  They can upload photos and videos very easily, and Storypark stores all their responses like a digital portfolio tracking their progress. We (teachers) create folders for various subjects or projects, for example, like maths, writing, and the Unit of Inquiry. Learning tasks are stored in these folders. Teachers can leave written and recorded feedback for students to respond to so students can edit and re-submit learning tasks. We (teachers) can even decide if these tasks can be viewed by other students for comments and feedback as well.

Seesaw has a bank of resources created by teachers that we can search through and use, but we have mostly found that creating our own resources that suit the needs of our students works best. We love that we can work collaboratively in designing tasks and share them into the resource bank so colleagues can use them too. Sharing the workload is super helpful!” –Kiri Grimwood, Grade 3 Homeroom Teacher

At the end of the day, no platform for online learning will be perfect. It will be hard to find one option that meets all of your needs and your students’ needs. We hope that a combination of these platforms for online learning helps you have a successful e-learning experience. Let us know your experience with e-learning below, and comment about platforms that have helped you during this time.