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Christel House’s Transition to Distance Learning

At the beginning of 2020, Christel House South Africa sought to overcome the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic thrust upon them and transition to distance learning. 

Through the transition from a pen and paper learning, to a distance learning environment, the school found a way to provide for their students with COVID-19 arriving on South African shores.

Christel House International is an organisation founded in 2001 that seeks to break the cycle of poverty through education. 

They hold the philosophy that all students have an innate ability to succeed and innate talents that can put them on a career path out of poverty. Christel House schools seek to provide students with access to opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have access to – and break the cycle of poverty.

As a non-profit organisation, Christel House South Africa offers no fees education to their students, providing education and support from Primary through to their senior year.

 

 

 

The Transition to Device-oriented Learning

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, students of Christel House only had access to devices at school. Without take-home devices, it was a combination of pen and paper learning and a somewhat hybrid model with technology blended into in-class lessons. 

There was a gradual process of integrating devices into the classroom, as teachers naturally favoured what they were comfortable with and devices weren’t the priority means of learning. 

However, Christel House’s digital strategy was an important part of their students’ learning process due to the simple importance of providing students with digital skills to future proof their learning. 

The inclusion of technology in the students’ classes contributed to the development of their digital skills, helping them to navigate devices and be able to compete in a world of technology in the future.

Student using an Android tablet for distance learning

Christel House’s Transition to Distance Learning with Devices

Once it became apparent that it was only a matter of time before COVID-19 arrived in South Africa, Christel House South Africa developed a digital strategy that was put in place to navigate the transition to distance learning. 

The IT team knew what they were going to do and what was required in order to do so. Additionally, they had an idea of what some of the pros and cons of implementing their digital distance learning strategy would be from a technical perspective. 

One of the uncertainties that existed was whether the school was going to be able to overcome the challenge of remote learning digitally from a logistical perspective and if students would have to fall back onto the standard pen and paper method of learning. 

Due to their planning and preparation, Christel House was able to implement a hybrid learning model, combining devices and pen and paper learning from home. Students were provided with Android tablets to use at home alongside their traditional pen and paper learning – and the School saw the benefits of both working side-by-side. 

Challenges Overcome 

As part of their efforts to integrate devices into their classrooms, Christel House had a windows environment in addition to Android tablets that were being trialled with their senior year students. 

In order to try to get the best out of the tablets, the school was using the generic Android device management software to limit device use by students. However, the software was very restrictive and lacked the features of a modern MDM solution.

This testing process showed the IT team at Christel House they will require a modern MDM solution in order to create safe and effective online learning environments for their students in the classroom. 

Despite the number of mobile device management solutions available, the school struggled to find the right solution which suited their requirements. With their prior experience, they knew what they required to provide an effective online learning environment for students in class and were struggling to find it.

After having done their research on possible MDM solutions, Christel House found the process very encumbering, as Adriaan Hector, the IT Administrator from Christel house puts it: “Everyone promises the world but not every solution is able to actually provide this”. 

“When we approached Mobile Guardian initially, we were so impressed. Mobile Guardian set us up within the week we contacted them and their onboarding process taught us so much about the do’s & don’ts and how the solution will affect us moving forward.” 

Adriaan Hector, Christel House South Africa IT Administrator. 

The Impact of Mobile Device Management

Through the use of Mobile Guardian’s Campus Solution, Christel House has access to all the tools they require to provide safe and focused learning environments for their students.

Our Campus Solution includes not only MDM features, but classroom management and web filtering features too. 

“This is where I have to give Mobile Guardian credit, as after just implementing some of the key features of the software, we were able to really narrow down the way our learners work, as well as control, from an IT perspective, where they can go online, what they can do, what they are not allowed to do.” 

Adriaan goes on to describe a careers night held at the school during 2020. The Android tablets were part of a booth and required access to particular content outside of their regular allowed content. With Mobile Guardian, he and his team were able to easily adjust the web filter and cater to the needs of the event. 

A situation that is not much different from regular classroom requirements when a particular class requires a nuanced set up of the web filter to allow for the best possible learning experience. Mobile Guardian’s web filter allows for easy adjustments to the web filter, with complete reporting on changes and student activity online. 

Adriaan had this to say about our web filter;

“This manoeuvrability that Mobile Guardian offers to educators is fantastic. Other software’s we’ve used for device management just doesn’t have the same meticulous reporting or offer the level of analytics that we require as Mobile Guardian can.”

About Christel House South Africa 

Beyond the incredible work that Christel House South Africa provides for their students in an academic setting, they also provide additional support programs to help their students succeed. With access to a clinic, social services, transport to and from school as well as a college and careers department. 

Further to this, Christel House supports their students for 5 years after their final year of high school to help them acquire tertiary education, find their first employment opportunity and break the cycle of poverty.

Find out more about the incredible impact of the organisation on their website.

 

Onwards,

Panashe Goteka

Team Mobile Guardian

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