The Director of Learning Technologies at SEK Education Group, Joaquín Rodríguez, explained to Innovaspain the process of educational technology change at SEK during the months of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A change that SEK had long been planning and even implementing in many areas.
“We have a degree of investment capacity, autonomy and planning that is not possible in other schools,” says Rodríguez. SEK schools and University Camilo José Cela follow a strategy that has always tended towards disruption in technology and methodologies. In 2015, a process began that sought to shape a unique and propriety virtual learning ecosystem, MySEK. In the last year and a half, teachers, students and families have already enjoyed more than twenty digital tools thanks to this collaborative space. The tools, integrated into one digital space, are shared although each user has a personalised desktop.
Joaquín Rodríguez details during the interview how for four years, in parallel to the development of the MySEK application, SEK Education Group has been working based on a Digital Competence Plan for teachers and students. The European Union promoted this type of initiative with its own plan, subsequently adapted by each country. “We have made it more flexible based on our needs,” he explains.
During lockdown, it was necessary to ensure, from the first day, that students and teachers were able to continue with their curricula and educational cycles unchecked from home as normally as possible. “With screens, less is more. We wanted to reduce attendance or synchronisation times for the benefit of personalised, individual and cooperative work. We always have; now with more reason. Collaboration is one of our hallmarks and today it is more relevant than ever. It is essential to foster relationships and not lose a sense of belonging and learning in a social dimension,” says Rodríguez.
Taking care of the emotional well-being of students
One of the things we had to keep an eye on and help people with over lockdown was the mental health of our students, so that their socio-emotional foundations remained intact. To do this, SEK activated different protocols to support students and families during a very difficult time. “Tutors stayed in touch with students with a tailored care plan. Human relationships also went into the digital environment overnight. We have tried to understand the perception of the pandemic from different perspectives. Managing its impact on children in Early Childhood is not the same as managing it in Secondary”, says Joaquín Rodríguez.
Facing the return of students and teachers to the classrooms, with the restrictions with which they will have to live with in the so-called ‘new normal’, Joaquín Rodríguez sees SEK Education Group fully prepared to face this challenge: “We hardly had any walls in the classrooms anymore, so we can social distance easily. Now, if we are consistent, as defenders of the hybrid space, we will continue to enhance digital tools. The ones we already use and new ones. It is important to think about unforeseen and new situations, some very legitimate, in which some families may not want to send their children to school”.
“We cannot return to the starting point,” says Rodríguez. “You have to take change very seriously. The spaces and times of education vary. It is time to learn anytime, anywhere; experiencing learning as something that can happen beyond times and calendars. So, it has to be a more fluid and hybrid process.”