Cloud Platforms

Cloud Platform Adoption During School Closure

This page contains advice and guidance for schools to consider before adopting cloud platforms for home learning.

Please note there are safeguarding considerations during closure, whether you are using new technology or not.

Read the safeguarding page of this site for much more, including resources for pupils and parents, more for staff and safe settings for G Suite video calls. But first, be sure to look at these two documents:

These 20 safeguarding principles (click the image for a high res version) are key for all tech, not just video use. Wherever possible, use systems already in place (e.g. G Suite & Office 365 have video and text chat which is safe and auditable!).

Use our one page guide for reviewing, revising and remind staff and students about your safeguarding / online safety policies and AUPs. You won't need to make many changes but there will be plenty of useful reminders.

1. What is the right balance between online and offline activities to support home learning?

Home learning using online technology can be successful if it is part of a balanced approach between on and offline learning activities.

During school closure, it will be easier for children and parents if existing online platforms already in use are used. Online learning activities need careful consideration to ensure that well-intended teachers do not end up exerting additional pressure on parents trying to manage childcare and their own jobs with variable hardware and connectivity within their homes.

2. Should a school adopt a cloud platform for the first time during an extended period of a school closure?

If a school has not previously implemented a cloud platform into the everyday teaching and learning practice of the school then careful reflection on the reasons for this should occur before committing to implementing a cloud platform such as G Suite or Office 365 during school closure.

Many school staff are now already working at home and sometimes with their own children to look after. School Leaders need to be realistic about expectations on staff to learn new technologies without face to face support or direct contact with the pupils.

Further support for school leaders can be found here.

An exemplary example of cloud platform use to support school closure can be found here.

3. What are the key elements that need to be considered before a cloud platform is implemented to support home learning for all pupils due to school closure?

LGfL has produced an online Digital Transformation Toolkit to help school leaders appreciate the range of factors needed when implementing a cloud platform.

4. How do you ensure the use is inclusive of all learners during home learning?

Pupils with fast broadband, modern devices and quiet places to concentrate are at a clear advantage over pupils without such facilities at home.

Cloud platforms have a range of inclusive features to help support all learners, but only if they are used appropriately and with full understanding by the teachers managing their use. Examples can be found here.

5. What online platforms does LGfL offer as part of its service that could help effectively manage a range of cross-curricular learning activities?

The key two LGfL online platforms for primary schools are BusyThings and J2e.

Both platforms offer both curriculum-related content and the ability to manage users, set and assess work. Although lacking the full functionality of platforms such as GSuite and Office 365, they can offer a wide range of meaningful, fun and creative opportunities for a wide range of primary age pupils. They are easy to set up, deploy and capture students' work in the context of home learning with less training overhead for both staff and pupils.

6. We have been using simple online school / parent communication platforms to communicate with our parents in the past but their limitations are becoming more evident now that we need to support home learning during school closure. What should we do?

Comprehensive platforms such as Office 365 and G Suite can be used simply but to great effect; many schools adopt cloud platforms to support administration and file management in the first instance. During school closure, the evolution of working practices using cloud platforms can help staff work more efficiently and effectively; once established for admin use, a carefully staged rollout to pupils of similar features may prove effective. Each school needs to ensure that the changes are managed carefully rather than being rushed due to the pressure of school closure.

7. What features of cloud platforms best fit your teaching style, aims and objectives?

Click here to watch a range of examples of how cloud platforms can be used to support teaching and learning.

8. Are there any particular safeguarding issues that schools need to consider prior to implementing a cloud platform to support home learning in the event of a school closure?

Yes, there are. Summary guidance can be found here.

YouTube or Google Meet for Lesson Streaming

During school closure, schools may choose to using video platforms to broadcast lessons to pupils in their homes. We advise you to read the safeguarding information here before you plan for this.

In particular, teachers should never broadcast from a personal YouTube channel, but should use one linked to and controlled by their school. In fact, and especially since the YouTube age limit is 13, Google Hangouts/Meets is usually a better option. This platform allows you to invite users attached to your domain to join a stream or video meeting, or to approve users one by one (see the Hangouts Meet cheat sheet here).

If your school does not use G Suite from Google, LGfL can provision this for you; contact support.lgfl.net (even if you do not plan to do so widely, it is still worth setting up for a few staff users).