St Katharine’s is an all girls school in Johannesburg with 26 staff members and 220 learners. The school is very new in their technology integration model and contacted us to help them find a solution for distance learning during COVID-19. St Mary’s Waverley, a client of ours, referred them to us to help them find the best solution. Some teachers are working off iPads and other teachers are working on a combination of laptops and desktop devices that they have at home. The school is not a one to one school which means that each learner at home has a different device to use for their distance learning. This made Google for Education the perfect solution for them to explore.
After a series of Google Meet calls with the management and IT teams, we came up with a customised solution to suit their needs, using a phased roll out approach. All the staff have gone through a series of training sessions to equip them with the skills needed to begin their distance learning journey.
Each Grade in the school has a customised experience with the Google tools. The individual learners received their own Google account and with the necessary settings applied through the management of the Admin Console, we could ensure that each learner has an individualised experience.
For example, after our conversations, it was agreed that to get started, Grade R to Grade 3 would not need to have access to the G Suite tools just yet. Their teachers wanted to connect with them via video. Therefore, we turned all the services off for the learners in this phase, apart from Google Meet. Each learner then either downloaded the Google Meet app on their devices or signed in on a laptop. They have now been able to have video calls with their teachers.
For grades 4 – 7 the staff all learnt how to use Google Classroom to distribute work to their learners as well as have a platform to engage with their work and give them direct feedback. The learners in Grade 4 – 7 were all given access to Google Drive and Google Classroom. However, we kept Gmail and a number of other services turned off. Their teachers are now sending work through Google Classroom so that the learners have one place to find all their work and course materials. They are also using Google Meet to have online video sessions with whole classes as well as smaller group calls.
As the teachers and learners become more comfortable with the tools we will start to release more services for them to use. This is an ongoing discussion and roll out with the school. Next up, they plan to host a whole school assembly using Google Meet since they are all using this video conferencing platform extensively in their virtual classrooms.