Oxford University is providing resources to help children learn while schools are closed. The Department of Education is providing online home-schooling resources and Oxplore, a digital learning portal, has seen significantly increased traffic.
Oxford’s Department of Education aims to “contribute to all phases of public education in the UK and internationally” with its research and services. It has collated a large selection of materials to help parents home-school their children during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their website, which brings together over ninety links for helpful websites and learning tools, echoes efforts from around the university to provide support for those working from home. Balliol have created a set of similar resources and guides for educators to help them with online teaching, as well as advice for parents.
Oxford University Press has also created an online portal for those in all stages of education in lockdown, aiming to provide “expert advice, resources and tailored guidance to support children’s learning”. Its “Oxford Owl” service offers activities and material for teaching primary school age pupils in particular.
Oxford University runs a digital outreach portal Oxplore, which offers an accessible look at “Big Questions” aimed at 11-18-year-olds through quizzes, exercises and activities. Questions include “Does a god exist?”, “Can war be a good thing?”, “Does it matter who you love?” and “Should healthcare be free?”. Although designed for use by young people, Oxplore has produced resources for parents hoping to engage their children in lockdown, and is running livestream events to discuss new topics.
The University states that visits to the site had increased by 43% in the first weeks of lockdown, and that more than 8,900 of these visits were from first time users. Since the start of lockdown, more engagement has been noted from rural areas, and more remote regions, such as the Isle of Man.
Dr Samina Khan, Oxford’s Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach, commented in a statement: “We want to target these resources in particular to those students from disadvantaged backgrounds,” to offer support and guidance whilst learning from home.
In addition to its existing resources, Oxplore has adapted to the current climate by expanding their content. In a post on their outreach blog, Sarah Wilkin, Outreach Officer at Oxford University, wrote that “in the next few weeks, the Oxplore team will be posting mini-challenges for 11-18 year olds to complete using oxplore.org”, with the aim that these activities will “give students the opportunity to practise key skills used in university study such as building an argument, summarising information, and producing a creative response to a source.”