Recently, the official website of the Ministry of Education of China reported in its “Covid-19 prevention” special series the efforts made by educational institutions across Shandong Province to take good advantages of the "cloud classroom", particularly Binzhou City’s effective attempts at organizing online learning through recorded classes, live streaming and many other ways.
As part of the efforts to fight against the outbreak, Binzhou’s Bureau of Education quickly established a joint project group with various organizations and companies, including Binzhou Institute of Education Sciences, Binzhou Educational Technology Center and iFLYTEK, to initiate free online classes and provide course resources. Within merely 10 days, the group completed the building of an online educational system - Binzhou City "Cloud Classroom" platform, to realize online learning and provide a full set of high-quality educational resources for 449,000 students and 37,000 teachers in Binzhou. Besides, the platform enables all teachers and students to take video lessons online at the same time, thanks to the support by the Binzhou Big Data Application Center and several other institutions.
The municipal Bureau of Education has played an active role in coordinating to allow schools and parents to supervise and students to learn without concerns. Since the educational resources of all grades became accessible on Feb. 9 in Binzhou’s "Cloud Classroom", the platform has been characterized by a high coverage and participation rate, with the accumulative visits of over 100 million!
What does the "Cloud Classroom" with over 100 million views look like?
Binzhou’s "Cloud Classroom" is based on the city’s Education Digitalization Public Services Platform, with technical support from iFLYTEK. With a goal of meeting diverse requirements of students, iFLYTEK developed customized curriculum pages in the Binzhou Education Cloud Platform to combine online learning with the realities of different regions. The platform enables students to log in with uniform accounts, and view the weekly curriculum and arrange proper daily learning plan simply by selecting according grade. It saves students and parents from unnecessary worries.
Meanwhile, students can also further study what they fail to understand in the class, by watching the playback, downloading course videos or courseware after the class depending on their own situations.
In order to ensure the quality of the Cloud Classroom, Binzhou’s Bureau of Education specially selected outstanding teachers to record the platform’s online classes. In other words, the teachers of all the courses are known for leading professional skills or performances. In addition, the courses have been sorted out in units by the Teaching Research Departments, taking into account the learning progress, teacher’s competency and outbreak updates. Also, the courses are prepared by several teachers together, and are reviewed by Teaching Research Department at city and county levels.
The platform also provides teachers with functions such as homework uploading, automatic scoring, and home-school interconnection to examine and feedback students' learning results in a timely manner. All teachers and students in Binzhou have their personal accounts, allowing teachers to guide students in further online learning and improving learning methods, provide psychological counselling, and spread knowledges about epidemic prevention.
Teachers in Binzhou Experimental School were using the platform to show students’ exercise performance.
By teachers and students watching a lesson together, a closed loop of online question answering, counseling and testing comes into being
"On the one hand, the Cloud Class offers quality courses by Binzhou's ‘big names’, and online seminars. On the other, it witnesses teachers in different age groups joining hands in learning online and offline operating procedures with an open mind. It’s a 'big test' and 'big review' of teachers’ professionality and teaching skills." Mr. Zhang Linggao, a teacher of Daliangwang Primary School, said with high approval of the good results the Cloud Class provides for teachers.
Daliangwang Primary School in Beihai New District is a rural school. In this urgent battle of teaching at home to fight against the outbreak, teachers and students have to watch lessons together. In many cases, teachers are even more careful than students. They would take detailed notes, write down plenty of feedbacks, and sometimes watch playbacks, as they don’t want to miss a single point. After listening and summarizing, they will, putting aside the swelling and soreness of hands and eyes, immediately log into platforms such as 4ye (Xiaoxin), Zhixue and Changyan-xiaoxue to interact with children and arrange exercises, hoping to help children gain knowledges quickly and conveniently by reproducing the offline teaching process to the maximum extent.
Teachers were giving various types of assignments via Changyan-xiaoxue.
In order to help all teachers and students to better use the platform, the primary school specially formed an "Cloud Classroom Research and Study Group" to ensure " questions can be asked early, and good ideas can be shared widely". Now the teachers are making full use of this platform for collective discussion, and doing a better job in monitoring and guiding students’ learning processes. Mr. Ma Zhengang, a teacher in his 50s, lamented that the Cloud Classroom has taught everyone a lot of new things. With the new teaching experience, teachers unanimously praised the technology’s role in helping education. The school has planned to launch the training of various products and according functions, including Intelligent Classroom, Zhixue manual paper review, and targeted teaching empowered by big data for teachers after the outbreak. Every teacher is looking forward to it.
In the Ancient Town Wangjiannan Primary School of Zhanhua District, teachers not only take lessons in the "Cloud Classroom", but also prepare for the lessons seriously. They make instant communication and interaction with students through 4ye (Xiaoxin), and use Changyan-xiaoxue to give and review assignments. After students upload their homework, teachers will correct and provide feedback timely with the help of the systems, allowing students to recognize and solve their weaknesses while absorbing new knowledges.
(Left) The school asked students to listen to lessons via Cloud Classroom, and teachers to interact and give assignments via 4ye (Xiaoxin) and Changyan-xiaoxue; (Right) Careful preparation of lessons by a teacher
Since the beginning of Cloud Class, in Jinyang Street, Yangxin County, every teacher has been paying more attention to how students perform in classes in real time. They would interact with students and their parents, answer questions patiently with detailed explanation, and arrange homework. After the homework is submitted, they would immediately correct and provide feedback.
Teachers in Jinyang Street, Yangxin County were proficiently using Changyan-xiaoxue to give and correct assignments.
On Feb. 29 and Mar. 1, to assess the effect of online learning in Feb., Binzhou Experimental School conducted a two-day online model test with scientific and reasonable difficulty in Zhixue.
Following the schedules offered by head teachers, the students received tests online with cooperative supervision by parents. Then teachers reviewed the papers in time, and uploaded answers, train of thoughts, and exam analysis to the class’ homework group. After that, teachers also analyzed the test questions directly by livestreaming, to answer what students failed to understand in a timely manner.
(Left) Issuance of notices; (Right) Teachers shared the exam details with parents.
After the test, the school gained further insight into students’ learning performances over the past month, and provided real-time feedback on the effectiveness of cloud teaching. Students became more effective in reviewing lesson, and they can better adjust the review direction and strategies, thus identifying and filling the gaps, and laying the foundation for future studies. The "online test" was also well received by students and parents.
There is an increasing number of rural schools across China that tries to figure out the effectiveness of online teaching through Zhixue. On Mar. 7 and 8, Laodian Middle School in Yangxin County also organized an online test for its 9th-grade students, in order to timely assess students’ performances at home, offer diagnosis and give according correction.
The Grade 9 students of Laodian Middle School in Yangxin County are taking "self-examination" at home
Liu Chunguo, Director of Binzhou’s Bureau of Education, stressed that the "suspension of offline courses but not learning" does not mean simply online classes, but a broader sense of learning, mainly referring to guiding students in self-management, independent review and pre-study, offering instructions on learning methods, giving them psychological counselling, and popularizing the knowledges about virus prevention. According to the statistics in a preliminary survey, the participation rate of primary and middle school students in the city's Cloud Classroom has reached more than 98%, of which 70.8% students used the municipal-level platform. Binzhou City’s Cloud Classroom enriches students' learning resources and erases students and parents’ anxieties about “class suspension”, playing an active role in virus prevention and control.
Learning at home hasn’t interfere with listening to lectures, asking questions and doing exercises
In the morning of the 9th of this month, Jia Luyao, the 8th-grade student of the Second Junior High School of Wudi County, logged into the "Cloud Classroom" at home and began her online learning. After watching the courses, she went back to her teacher via video chats to ask questions about what she didn't understand.
Jia Luyao's father said the class was good, because although children could not physically go to school, thanks to Cloud Class, their studies were not delayed. He would take every lesson with his child, and he thinks that those teachers show "very good, detailed" explanation.
Jia Luyao said that when the outbreak was severe, she once feared that she might not be able to keep up in her studies. However, now she found that what those online teachers taught were more or less same as her own teachers, and has benefited a lot from it. She was very happy that she could catch up once again.
Binzhou City’s "Cloud Classroom" platform has introduced a course catalog menu and broadcast schedule, to ensure watching lessons at home can be similar to taking classes at school. Students can watch and learn via different mobile terminals such as computers, TVs and mobile phones; at the same time, teachers can answer students’ questions in the platform, so as to guarantee students' learning and life at home to the most extent.
In the First Junior High School of Wudi County, the students would do the prep work according to the schedule before the class; during the class, they would focus on tasks assigned by teachers such as finishing the basic study, taking notes and doing exercises; after the class, their teachers would send the courseware, course videos and exercises through the tablet to them, and record video lectures about high-frequency errors (produced by the tablet's big data analysis) in the assignments; and in a weekly basis, students would do consolidated training in frequent errors listed again by the tablet database. Everyone felt like they were taking the same classes as they were at school!
Teachers and students in the First Junior High School of Wudi County were proficient in using Zhixue
In addition, to remind children who study at home of protecting their eyes, the municipal Bureau of Education has organized eye protection classes. It also recorded some audios to guide children to do eye exercises, at-home physical exercises and help parents with housework.
Zhang Guoliang, the registrar of the Third Junior High School of Wudi County said: " Cloud Classroom has achieved two purposes. For one thing, it has played a helpful role in fighting the epidemic. Also, it has ensured the education quality of our school during the outbreak, and this is exactly what we say about 'suspension of offline courses but not learning'."
A.I. empowers education, and personalized education empowers individual dreams. If we compare online teaching to a big test, then Binzhou’s educational system, with the support of iFLYTEK, has delivered an answer sheet which has been well-recognized by teachers, parents and the society. In the future, the two sides will continue to work together to achieve fast and quality development of Binzhou’s education.