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Essex A-level students maximise potential by linking textbooks & online resources

Focussing on personal development and individual learning skills, the completely revised A-level curriculum, which was introduced in September 2008, aims to help students maximise their potential and creativity. To fully meet the new specifications, Helena Romanes School and Sixth Form Centre in Great Dunmow, Essex, began using Nelson Thornes learning space (NTls) at the beginning of the autumn term to promote independent and personalised learning among its A-level students.

With 125 students studying psychology, the school subscribed to NTls to support the AQA Psychology A-level programme of study. Nelson Thornes provides a blended approach to teaching and learning, linking textbooks with online resources which can be used both in class and remotely for homework purposes. The content, featuring interactive activities, video clips, audio files and downloadable Teacher Notes can be used in conjunction with the teachers’ own resources to help with the planning and delivery of lessons. By combining the use of textbooks with online resources, NTls enables teachers to bring a subject to life and encourages students to explore the rich bank of information independently.

Bradley Snell, Head of Psychology and Sociology, has found NTls a superb resource for supporting classroom teaching. He commented: "I find using NTls saves time planning lessons. I am able to use the resources and information contained within NTls to create lesson plans and to set homework for students. I can do this at school or from home allowing me real flexibility. I am able to upload my own resources onto NTls to prepare lessons exactly suited to the class requirements. NTls features some really good content including high quality video clips which can be shown on the interactive whiteboard to really engage the students. The electronic resources available are extensive and include hard-to-find video footage as well as contemporary digital resources which really appeal to the students."

Integrating textbooks and online content, NTls allows students to understand themes more fully and enables them to embark on research projects promoting independent study. With students able to access NTls from any location via internet enabled devices, the content available compliments the work of the teacher and allows students to explore topics for themselves. NTls also enables students to work together as groups and to share collaborative research and findings. NTls provides teachers with the facility to set both individual students and groups specific tasks and for teachers and students to communicate with each other if extra support or help is required. As well as assignments, teachers can also create tests which are automatically marked and which give students instant feedback so they can gauge their own understanding of a topic.

"The students have really embraced NTls. They are able to access it from their home PC, a school laptop or even via their mobile phones. They can hand in their assignments online and take multiple choice quizzes which I set. These quizzes are marked instantly meaning both the student and I are given the feedback straight away. By being constantly kept up to date with my students’ progress I am able to offer them as much support as they require. The system allows me to personalise work and to identify students who need additional support as well as those who need to be challenged." commented Bradley.

Accessing extensive resources anytime, anywhere has been very beneficial to students. Sixth form psychology student Stephanie Hassan commented: !I really like having the textbook and the online resources. It’s really helpful to be able to send messages to the teacher outside of school if you need guidance on a topic. NTls enables teachers to personalise work for you and if you need extra support or get stuck, they can show you additional resources online which can help you develop your understanding. I find the multiple choice tests and instant feedback really useful. Rather than having to wait for marks to come back we can find out instantly how well we are doing. NTls is easy to use and has really helped me understand the areas we have covered so far."


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