The EdTech tools helping schools reimagine their timetables

The EdTech tools helping schools reimagine their timetables

With a growing number of working parents moving into the city suburbs, before and after care options at schools have become increasingly common.

In Queensland, public schools were recently provided with updated guidelines allowing them greater flexibility around operating hours from Term 1, 2024 – a change that could see some schools implement a four-day week for staff and students.

With this shift less than two months away, the role of EdTech in helping schools facilitate this transition smoothly has come under the spotlight.

To explore this further, The Educator recently spoke to Kelly Hollis, Australian Curriculum Specialist at Education Perfect (EP). Hollis’ rich experience as a secondary science teacher and a key figure in EP's content strategy in Australia has given her valuable insights into the impact that EdTech can play in helping schools manage complex changes.

Her belief in technology's potential to enhance learning while upholding educational standards is particularly relevant in light of some Queensland schools potentially adopting a four-day week model.

Below, we asked Hollis how EdTech, honed through her work at EP, could support Queensland's teachers and leaders in managing this significant change without compromising on educational quality and student outcomes.

“To successfully implement a four-day school week in Queensland while maintaining educational standards and learning outcomes, it’s crucial to strategically leverage EdTech solutions,” Hollis told The Educator.

“This can be achieved by providing pre-made or modifiable digital resources that align with the curriculum standards, ensuring easy accessibility and independent student use, fostering flexibility in learning.”

The second important element to this, says Hollis, is data.

“With less time in class to identify individual needs and a greater need to optimise teaching time to meet those needs, having clear actionable insight into student strengths and weaknesses becomes critical and this can only be managed efficiently and effectively with the use of EdTech,” she said.

“Additionally, supporting a blended learning model that combines traditional classroom instruction with online learning components, including interactive and engaging virtual lessons, discussions, and assessments, can further enhance the learning experience.”

Hollis said Learning Management Systems can play a pivotal role in organising and streamlining educational content, assignments, and assessments while providing a centralised platform for communication between teachers, students, and parents to ensure everyone remains informed and engaged.

“By consolidating resources and adopting these strategic EdTech implementations, Queensland schools can effectively transition to a four-day school week without compromising educational quality.”

Hollis said flipped classrooms and other forms of blended learning can also play a transformative role, especially in maximising the effectiveness of student-teacher contact time.

“By shifting foundational content delivery outside the classroom, flipped classrooms create a more dynamic and engaging learning environment, to empower students to learn at their own pace through pre-recorded videos or online resources, fostering a sense of autonomy and self-directed learning,” she said.

“This approach allows teachers to gain deeper insight into student strengths and weaknesses, personalise in-class activities, tailoring instruction to individual student needs and providing targeted support.”

Hollis said classroom time then becomes a hub for interactive and collaborative learning, where students engage in discussions, problem-solving, group projects, and hands-on activities.

“This shift from traditional lectures to active learning fosters a deeper understanding of the material, and promotes critical thinking skills,” she said.

“Teachers also benefit from the flipped classroom model, gaining valuable insights into student comprehension through pre-class assessments.”

Hollis said this real-time feedback enables them to address misconceptions promptly and adjust instruction accordingly, creating a more responsive and effective learning environment.

“The blended learning models also often incorporate multimedia and interactive elements that cater to diverse learning styles, fostering greater engagement and motivation among students.”

When asked to share some successful models or case studies where EdTech has been utilised to support flexible scheduling in schools, Hollis pointed to EdTech’s demonstrated ability to provide curriculum-aligned tools that help teachers deliver engaging content effectively.

“These can be adapted in consideration of the more flexible school timetables,” Hollis said.

“The use of online learning platforms, such as Education Perfect in conjunction with an LMS like Google Classroom Canvas, are successful in providing students with access to course materials, assignments, and discussions outside of class time. This can free up in-class time for more one-on-one time, and hands-on activities.”

Hollis said EdTech also provides students with opportunities to learn at their own pace, through self-paced learning modules or online tutorials.

“This works for students who need more time to grasp concepts, or those who want to accelerate their learning,” she said.

“EdTech can enable Queensland schools to create a more flexible and personalised learning experience for their students, which can help to improve student outcomes and ensure that all students have the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

Moving forward, Hollis said effectively preparing teachers for the unique challenges and opportunities presented by a four-day school week, supported by EdTech, requires that school principals focus on developing key competencies in their teachers.

“These competencies include proficiency in educational technology tools relevant to teachers' subjects and teaching styles, strategic planning for time optimisation, collaborative teaching practices, fostering student autonomy and self-directed learning, and implementing student-centred pedagogy,” she said.

“By developing these competencies, teachers will be well-equipped to deliver engaging, meaningful, and effective instruction within the condensed four-day school week framework.”