We believe that St. Stephen’s provides an excellent, well-rounded education, articulating both the academic development and the social-emotional development of our students.
In response to the school closure caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic, we have created an e-Learning Institute in order to be able to provide the same quality of education during periods of full or partial school closure. The aim of the institute is to conduct research and training in digital pedagogy and effective educational technology in order to enable our teachers to deliver a best-in-class online education when needed.
St Stephen’s students will benefit from this in many ways:
- Students enjoy a tailored, authentic, and meaningful online course designed by their teacher in full knowledge of their needs, interests, and existing skills.
- Successful online teaching requires very clearly defined learning outcomes, weekly plans, clear definitions of types of work and assignments, and clear expectations for teachers and students. In order to keep students engaged, teachers develop a rich variety of activities, including formative and summative written and oral assignments, quizzes, and discussions.
- E-assessment focuses on open-ended tasks, with questions that allow multiple answers which cannot be googled. This is a much more meaningful way of assessing students for 21st-century skills, and one increasingly adopted by the IBO and universities.
- Successful online course design leads to higher levels of student ownership and student-led learning, creating greater independence and scholarship, two key St Stephen’s values.
- By being taught online during some periods, St Stephen’s students develop digital skills that will be essential for them in future workplaces and beyond. They become highly literate in digital presentation skills and online forms of public speaking. Teachers assign collaborative projects and small group work, which develop time-management and collaborative skills. They are also a good way of avoiding feelings of isolation and replacing some of the community feeling typically experienced at St Stephen’s.
- When school closure is mandated, the school organizes a healthy mix of synchronous and asynchronous classes and carefully monitors engagement and time spent on computers. Asynchronous learning is flexible and independent, whereas synchronous sessions are opportunities to monitor progress and well-being.
- During periods of school closure, the students need more, not less, community support. The E-learning Institute is researching ways to develop a strong community network that replicates, as much as possible, the experience of being a residential or day student at St Stephen’s. This includes digital adviser meetings, Grade Level Meetings, virtual study halls, Wellness Center appointments, and online co-curricular offerings for students.
When we return to teaching face-to-face full time, students will be much more digitally literate and teachers will have a much greater methodological arsenal and will be able to design classes that are more effective and more diversified.
Follow these guidelines from our IT Director, Fausto Di Marco:
1 - Shut down computers at night.
2 - Update computers on a weekly basis (update system and apps) but turn the automatic updates off during the day.
3 - Restart the computer during the day in case it shows a slow down in performance.
4 - Make sure the laptop is well ventilated (including the bottom) and does not overheat.
3 - Check memory availability (RAM at least 4GB, better 8GB; Hard Disk or SSD with at least 20% of free space). In case of problems with this point, I suggest increasing the RAM by taking the laptop to assistance and/or remove programs and files that are taking too much space and are not needed, eventually transferring them to cloud or external device)
4 - Run a Scandisk or disk Defrag to optimize the performance of HD on a monthly basis.
5 - Check the WIFI connection by standing 1 meter from the router. Run an ADSL Speed Test online (download: minimum 2.0 Mbps - upload: minimum 1.0 Mbps)
6 - Check the WIFI connection at the actual location where the student is normally working (consider that in an apartment usually the speed/signal drops by 50% at 6/7 meters from the router and drops by 75% at 10 meters from the router but this depends on many factors including walls, isolation of floors, niches, doors open or closed and others). Run an ADSL Speed Test online (again: minimum requirements: download: 2.0 Mbps
upload: 1.0 Mbps).
7 - In case of poor signal consider the following in this order:
- Disconnect devices that could potentially limit the bandwidth (Xbox, TVs, Alexa, mobile phones etc.)
- Keep doors open.
- Connect your laptop directly to the router with a LAN cable and a USB to LAN adapter. There are at least 4 empty LAN ports behind the router.
- Add a repeater.
- Add a portable wifi hotspot (unlimited traffic with SIM from any of the phone companies around: TIM, WindTe, Vodafone, Iliad, and others),
- Change Internet Service Provider if the line that comes to the apartment is weak. Try to get the fiber optic connectivity if it reaches the area and the building.