Working together to help teachers and students across China
In China, 90 per cent of schools closed as part of social distancing measures to stem the spread of the virus. It was an unprecedented situation for students, parents, and teachers, so our teams there worked together and focused their support efforts on three areas—assessment, professional development, and home learning.
OxfordAQA teams in China and the UK created an online student support suite including access to digital textbooks and 94 top tests for Maths and Science; three online pedagogy training sessions for OxfordAQA teachers; and sessions tailored to helping teachers and students tackle challenges caused by this new way of working. The team also postponed the entry deadline for exams in May and June, although these were later cancelled.
The feedback from teachers and students was overwhelmingly positive. During a session on school leadership and remote learning, one of the attendees fed back that it was ‘one of the best webinars I have ever attended—relevant, informative, and challenging. In times of uncertainty we need as much support as we can have.’
Meanwhile, our Professional Development Team created Teaching English Online talks to help teachers adapt and deliver best-practice teaching and learning in the lockdown environment. The talks covered topics such as teaching vocabulary and testing pronunciation, and catered for those with minimal online teaching experience. Due to the success of the first sessions, they also developed further talks on teaching grammar and introducing critical thinking, and within four weeks, 20,000 teachers had joined the professional development programme.
Finally, the Home Learning Team used our public WeChat account to consolidate and share free access to Oxford Reading Tree through Oxford Owl, for learners, teachers, and parents. This was accompanied by online webinars on how to use levelled readers to support children at home. We also provided three months of free trial access to the Big Reading Club Online to schools and learning centres in Hubei province which had seen the most severe outbreak of the virus.
Providing access to valuable research
Early on, we recognized that we would be fulfilling our mission by sharing our valuable research during a time of crisis. To help researchers, medical professionals, policy makers, and others working to limit the spread of the pandemic and find a treatment, we made our resources relating to the coronavirus publicly available on an online hub.
As well as contributing to the fight against the virus, we also knew it was important to provide access to quality, reputable scientific and scholarly work to counteract concerns around fake news and scaremongering.
Resources we made available included more than 2,500 journal articles, Oxford Reference, Oxford Research Encyclopedias, Oxford Bibliographies, Oxford Handbooks Online, and Very Short Introductions, which were accessed more than two million times in March alone.
In addition, we supported a number of external initiatives, including a pledge led by the Wellcome Trust to make relevant research available for the duration of the outbreak, and a movement led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to make research and data accessible through public repositories.
Supporting Hong Kong learning under lockdown
As the virus spread to Hong Kong, we immediately began to prepare for the challenges that teachers and parents would face, to ensure learning and teaching continued. Local schools had never been closed for such a long period before, so it was important that we responded quickly to support our customers as far as possible.
Representatives from across OUP editorial, sales, marketing, and digital product development worked with teachers to create Oxford Online Resources to Support Home Learning—a collection of products and services for online classrooms and self-learning at home. In total, we created 230 teaching videos, 250 new worksheets, 200 online exercises, assessments, mock exam papers, learning games, and PDFs of valuable textbooks for various core subjects. We also worked with non-governmental organization (NGO) Chicken Soup, to give away 1,000 Oxford Reading Tree storybooks and free Oxford Achiever self-assessment accounts to underprivileged children. Additionally, 77,000 Oxford Achiever self-assessment platform accounts were created and given to students from 27 different primary schools. As university entrance exams were delayed, we also created videos with exam tips, free mock papers, and self-study materials to support test-takers.
In February alone, our teaching and learning resources were downloaded 700,000 times, and our learning management system iSolution saw a 40 per cent growth in usage on the previous year. We also received 600,000 website visitors after publicizing the newly created platforms—3.5 times higher than the same period last year.
‘Oxford Online Resources to Support Home Learning has become immensely helpful to both teachers and parents. We are so grateful that Oxford University Press has provided such a platform with a vast amount of materials to all schools and parents. As the outbreak caught all school administrators by surprise, Oxford's online resources have saved our teachers a lot of time to find materials for children. The students really enjoyed reading the e-books on Oxford Owl as well. Parents also find the activity sheets and teaching guideline videos extremely useful, which help them to learn how to teach various English and Chinese reading and writing skills to their children.’