E-LEARNING IN AN ALTERNATIVE EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT
By Rukshana Hassen
Since inception, Al Iman Schools has invested in time, expertise and resources towards creating and exposing learners to the e-learning platform. In 2008 when the school was founded, ample space was prioritized to embark on e-learning essentials by the inclusion of hardware, laid out in a most child friendly learning space.
Out of the many types of e-learning initially the school incorporated two popular game-based software that made learning interactive, attention seeking and fun. One such software was titled ‘Reader Rabbit’.
Reader Rabbit and JumpStart
Reader Rabbit is a video game within the edutainment series Reader Rabbit, published by The Learning Company in June 1997. A new version of the game was developed in-house by Graffiti Entertainment, and was released in 2009. The game is designed to teach children skills such as mathematics, phonics, reading and listening. With the incorporation of lively sound and captivating characters, this game based educational series encouraged creative learning.
Similarly, another program known as JumpStart, is an educational media franchise for children, consisting mostly of educational games, produced by JumpStart Games. The series originally consisted of a series of educational PC games but has since expanded to include workbooks, direct-to-video films and mobile apps. The concept behind the program was to keep track of a student’s successes and struggles. This was done while teaching an entire grade or subject through a proper balance of puzzles, games and education.
As the years progressed and the School encouraged independent learning through a series of self-directed learning techniques, the students were introduced to Khan Academy. This is an American non-profit educational organization created in 2008 with the goal of creating a set of online tools that help educate students. Al Iman Schools students were directed to create accounts and capitalize on the short lessons produced in the form of videos. This enabled the students to gain benefits of the exposure to a variety of tutoring content and broader understanding of the world around them.
E-learning offers multitudes of benefits and students started relying on features such as repetitive access to resources that was available without any time constraints. Educators invested time in creating an e-library of these e-learning resources and hand-picked resources to deliver lessons to learners who had different learning styles. This also enabled educators to personalize learning for individual learning levels and target specific learner audiences effectively.
Having thrived on a variety of platforms, the school then introduced a digital platform for home-school communication and partnership. The Seesaw mobile technology is a simple way for teachers and students to record and share what's happening in the classroom, which enabled parents to stay connected to the classroom on a daily basis. Seesaw also gives our students a place to document their learning, be creative and learn how to use technology. Each student gets their own journal and add resources to it, like photos, videos, drawings or notes.
These e-learning options provided an opportunity to parents to be informed and involved consistently because when there are new Seesaw posts, families are notified via app notifications and emails. Since parents are only notified about their own child’s work, and all data is safe and secure while they are also kept informed of their progress and targeted intervention requirements. These enhanced options provided many ways to increase the bond between parent-child, parent-teacher and home-school.
Fueled by the art of e-learning the school maximized the potential of this platform, during the recent pandemic that challenged learners around the globe. While the entire community of learners, teachers and administrators were confined to their homes, learning and progress did not come to a halt. Because of the familiarity and skill in e-learning our educators and learners overcame many obstacles to complete the termly assessments online and gather data that produced e-reports in an effective and timely manner. Age appropriately designed assessment strategies granted this task to be a successful venture to both students and administrators.
E-learning has proved its potential and has opened the learning community to unimaginable depths of enlightenment. E-learning at Al Iman Schools is an integral part of seeking knowledge in every individual’s learning journey, from the cradle to one’s grave.