Russia, the exam dilemma & technology solution

Renaldo Lawrence of Chiswick School describes how technology allayed parents & teachers fears about the impact of a school trip on revision time AND enhanced exam results. Pupils and teachers talk about their experience of how technology helped with their exam revision.

Some of the most wonderful memories for both teachers and students can be created during educational trips. Whilst on these trips, teachers can share new learning experiences with their students, provide opportunities for them to develop their subject knowledge, and allow them to gain important “real world” experiences which cannot be taught inside the classroom.

Students have the opportunity to get away from their desks and other accoutrements used in a normal school setting, and by being in such a different environment helps them connect with their subject curriculum in ways which they have not done/ been able to previously.

Students have the opportunity to get away from their desks and other accoutrements used in a normal school setting, and by being in such a different environment can connect with their subject curriculum in ways which they have not done/ been able to previously.

Students on educational trips can learn whilst having fun in a more informal environment. They are able to see the places, statues, monuments etc. which they usually can only view through magazines, books or through videos on YouTube.

So, here at Chiswick School, we think very carefully about the different experiences we would like to expose our students to, and how these trips benefit each and every student. As a school, we try to balance trips with exams and normal school life in a way that will both benefit students’ education and life in general.

The exam dilemma

Recently the History department organised a trip to Russia with 30 Year 12 pupils in order to give the students the opportunity to experience Russian culture and enhance their subject knowledge of Russian history. However, there were some initial concerns that arose:

  • Students needed to study for their upcoming exams which would determine if they got into Year 13
  • The teachers needed to try and ensure that each student has the opportunity to learn in a way which can maximise their potential
  • Parents were worried about about the trip and their child’s ability to revise whilst being away from school

With all these concerns, Mr. Cosstick, the Director of Sixth Form, began to wonder how the History department could both make sure the students’ educational needs were going to be met, and assure the parents that their children would have proper revision time.

The technology solution

At Chiswick School, we really value technology and feel that it can really help support learning and solve many issues and problems which may arise during the learning process. So naturally, we thought technology was the best tool to use to both enable the students to study effectively and enjoy the trip away from school.

This is because we know that:

  • Technology enables endless opportunities for students to work on their own whenever, and wherever they wish to
  • Content can be customised to produce unique learning experiences based on the teacher’s individual curriculum.
  • Technology is relevant and thus can effectively engage students
  • Technology can cover a variety of learning levels
  • Technology allows teachers to teach all of their students the same lesson in a variety of different ways (digital magazines, iBooks, web based content) while making sure that each of the learning styles are adhered to, visual, auditory and kinesthetic.

In order to accommodate the History department’s curriculum and students’ revision needs, Mr. Cosstick needed to come up with solutions would enable the students to revise during the trip and to access content on all of their devices.

Working together, we came up with two different solutions which would cover all the devices and allow students to access the materials to aid their revision. These tools were created for the iPads, iPhones, Android devices and the web. These tools were iBooks and a series of web based interactive materials which students could download to their devices or access on the web. Once the students understood how to use the interactive materials, they were ready and prepared to start learning and revising.

The exam revision and results! 

When the trip came around, the teachers and students spent the days out sightseeing and soaking up the Russian culture, and the evenings in the hotel together as a class using the interactive materials to study for their exams.

The benefits from using the interactive materials paid off in a huge way as the History department got their best exam results to date. The students were able go on to Year 13 to continue their education with excellent results and amazing memories from their trip.

Listen to the student’s point of view:

Listen to the teacher’s point of view:

The more and more I see departments and individual teachers who are prepared to take a risk, use their curriculum to help develop more engaging and interesting content for the students, the more I know that as a school and as a country we need to continue this journey of digital discovery.

See these examples of how Chiswick School have usedAdobe Presenter, iBooks Author Adobe Audition and YouTube to create interactive content and revision resources:

Renaldo Lawrence works at Chiswick School where he teaches and works with staff creating and developing interactive e-learning materials for students.

His blog Turning the curriculum into interactive content gave some excellent advice about how to create digital content for the classroom.


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