This page is live and will be updated as new features and improvements are announced.
The situation regarding COVID-19 is constantly changing. More and more people are being asked to work from home and many schools and universities are also moving to online learning. At Grok we want to do everything in our power to help with this transition.
We are very aware of the impact this situation will have on student learning. So we are taking rapid steps to support teachers, parents, and students. Being an online platform, Grok Learning already has a number of features designed for remote teaching, but we want to do more.
We have joined forces with our partner, the Australian Computing Academy (ACA), and instigated a plan of action to implement and improve many of our features - access, content, and platform - to further support teachers and students as the situation progresses. The ACA is led by the University of Sydney and supported by the Federal Government to help Australian primary and secondary teachers implement the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies. The ACA delivers curriculum-aligned online courses, runs professional development workshops, and collaborates regularly with education, industry and the broader tech community to provide further support to teachers.
Continue reading for information on how Grok and the ACA are helping school students and teachers, both in Australia and internationally.
For live updates and to share ideas with other teachers, join our ACA and Grok Facebook group.
(21 August 2020) End of Expert Tutoring and Student Messaging Hiatus
Expert Tutoring coming to an end
On 30 August, at the same time as the NCSS Challenge wraps up, our Expert Tutoring support will come to an end. Expert tutoring will return for our next competition, Web.Comp, in October.
Student Messaging going on hiatus
On August 30 our student messaging system will also go into hiatus. We created student messaging on a really quick timeframe to help teachers and students during the COVID-19 pandemic, and in doing so, we re-used a lot of the functionality from our tutoring system. Since tutoring is coming to an end, we also have to turn off student messaging so we can reassess this feature and decide if we should build it out properly.
In September we will release a survey where you can give feedback on these and our other COVID support initiatives.
Can I still send Reactions through Live Classroom? Yes, if you're using the Live Classroom feature to send Reactions to your students, you can still do this. You will no longer be able to "chat" with students via the tutoring button, but they can still see your Live Classroom Reactions from the notification menu.
Will my chat messages disappear? You and your students will still be able to see all your chat messages for 4 weeks, until 25th September. After that, the Tutoring button will be removed from all our regular courses and you won't be able to access the chat history. Make sure you take notes of any messages that were particularly useful!
(10 August 2020) Additional Support for Victorian Schools
New support - From the ACA and Department of Education Victoria: weekly webinars for teachers and students. The goal of these webinars is to give teachers flexibility. The teachers can attend the teacher session and/or ask their students who are working from home to attend the student session.
- Webinars run every Tuesday and Thursday.
- Practical sessions for teachers on Tuesdays.
- Activities for students on Thursdays (primary and secondary options).
- The secondary activities use the DT and Cyber Challenges, and the primary ones use Wombot, Turtle, and Microbit, as well as some unplugged activities.
Teachers can book in on this website: https://arc.educationapps.vic.gov.au/eventhub/providers/2751
Reminder: Continued Support for all schools
We will continue to provide support to all teachers and students in the forms of:
- Student messaging
- Expert tutoring (until August 30)
- Live Classroom
- COVID discount
- ACA fee-free resources
- ACA DT@Home activities
(4 June 2020) Upcoming pricing arrangements, and expert tutoring extension
Return to subscriptions
From 6 July, we will return to our subscription model. Students will need a paid subscription for access to Grok courses and competitions, such as the upcoming NCSS Challenge. This will include courses that students have started during the free-access period. Short courses are still free, and for Australian students the ACA Challenges will continue to be subsidised as they were before the COVID-19 lockdown for selected year groups.
We know that school budgets are likely to be stretched, and there remains a lot of uncertainty for the remainder of 2020. We are offering a 33% discount off our regular pricing for subscriptions that will expire at the end of 2020. This applies to all schools, school students, and coding clubs worldwide. To take advantage of this offer, use the discount code GrokAssist2020 when you purchase subscriptions. The discount offer is available from now until 31 Dec 2020, and subscriptions purchased using this discount code will end on 31 Dec 2020.
You can still choose to purchase our standard subscriptions which last for 12 months as usual. They will run until June 2021 if purchased now. As always, we are also open to discussing part-year site licences for large cohorts.
If this pricing is still infeasible, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see what we can do.
Extended expert tutoring
During Term 2, we hired expert tutors to provide additional support to remote students. We've had over 28,000 posts between tutors and students over the last few weeks, and the feedback from teachers and students has been very positive. We have decided to extend our expert tutoring arrangement until the end of the NCSS Challenge. Tutoring support extended until 30 August.
(21 May 2020) Student Messaging and Launchpad update
💬Introducing Student Messaging:
Heck yeah, Grok has chat! We’ve expanded our existing tutor messaging system to allow any verified teacher to chat with students at their school. This means you can create a new chat thread with a student to offer help, or reply to a question that a student has asked.
To get chatting, jump into the Red View for a particular student. You can get to the Red View from a number of places, for example: clicking a student progress bar in the Dashboard; or clicking any diamond shaped Live Classroom problem activity marker. Once you are in Red View, you can send a message:
- Click on the Tutoring button to pull up the chat window.
- Start a new chat thread, or claim the existing thread.
- Type your message and hit Send.
Read the Student Messaging FAQ for more information, including how this interacts with our expert tutors, and what information other students and teachers can see. To begin with, chat is only enabled for courses that have tutoring, so check the tutoring list here.
We've adjusted the Grok Launchpad to make it easier for your students to find their assigned work. On the Launchpad, students will now only see their assigned and recently accessed courses, along with the current or upcoming competitions. This makes it easy for your students to find what they should be working on. All other courses are hidden by default and can be viewed or hidden using the Show More / Less button.
(18 May 2020) Expert Tutoring Schedule
We have finalised the schedule for adding Expert Tutoring to the remaining Grok Learning and Australian Computing Academy Courses:
- Infosec - Cyber Security
- Web AppSec - Cyber Security
- DT Challenge - Data Representation
- DT Challenge Smart Garden (Blockly)
- DT Challenge Smart Garden (Python)
- DT Mini Challenge - Starters (Blockly)
- DT Challenge - Get Started: Scratch
- DT Challenge - Moving Things: Scratch
- Cryptography - Cyber Security
- Networking – Cyber Security
- DT Challenge Sport + micro:bit (Blockly)
- DT Challenge Sport + micro:bit (Python)
- DT Challenge Cookie Clicker (Blockly)
- DT Challenge Cookie Clicker (Python)
- DT Challenge Arduino – Sound
- DT Mini Challenge - Tree
- DT Challenge Blockly - Year 5 Biology
- DT Challenge Python – Year 7 Biology
- DT Challenge Python – Year 7 Biology Extension
- DT Mini Challenge Networking with micro:bit (Python)
- DT Mini Challenge Satellite (Python)
- DT Mini Challenge Networking with micro:bit (Blockly)
- DT Express Challenge - Christmas
- DT Mini Challenge Blastoff with micro:bit
- DT Challenge Blockly – Year 7 Geometry
(8 May 2020) New Python for Beginners course and Live Classroom Update
We’ve received a lot of positive feedback about the new features we’ve been adding to the NCSS Challenge, including interactive slides, paired problems, and stronger curriculum alignment.
To make these features available to your students all year round, today we released Python for Beginners - a new introductory Python course perfect for students in Grades 7 and up, or anyone new to text coding.
The course covers basic branching and looping control structures, manipulating text and numbers, functions, data representation, and turtle graphics. For more information on the content and curriculum links as well as how the course compares to our existing content read: Which Python course should I choose?
This course is now available to join from the Launchpad, and teachers can assign the course to students from the Teacher Dashboard.
We have also added some new features to Live Classroom.
Teachers can now see when their students were last online or if they are stalled or stuck on a problem. Read more about this in the Live Classroom FAQ.
(24 April 2020) Live Classroom and more courses available for tutoring
Introducing Live Classroom
This is a new space on the Teacher Dashboard to allow teachers to monitor students' progress in real-time. It will let them see where and when students are active and what actions they have taken in a course.
We'll be updating the Live Classroom Dashboard with additional features in the near future, including:
- Indicators when a student is struggling or inactive
- Live status information, such as whether or not a student is online, what slide or problem they are viewing, and the number of runs and submissions for the current problem.
- Aggregate information about a student's daily, weekly or monthly activity by course, including the length of time they were active and number of problems solved.
Read the Live Classroom FAQ for more information.
We have added more courses available for live tutoring, these are:
- DT Mini Challenge - Wombot
- DT Mini Challenge - Intro to Micro:bit
- DT Mini Challenge - Intro to Micro:bit (Blockly)
- DT Challenge Blockly - Space Invaders
- DT Mini Challenge - Space Invaders (Blockly)
We will be adding the following courses on Monday 27 April:
If you have questions about tutoring, read our Tutoring FAQ.
(9 April 2020) More courses available for tutoring
Three more courses are now available for live tutoring by experts. (See previous update for more information)
- Introduction to Programming (Python)
- Introduction to Programming (Blockly)
- BBC micro:bit Crash Course
(30 March 2020) Expert tutoring live on Grok
The tutors are there to help your students understand concepts and guide them through solving the problem. Teacher are welcome to chat to the tutors themselves and can also see all conversations between their students and tutors.
The courses available for tutoring will be released progressively, we will update this page as new courses become available for tutoring. From Monday 6th April, the following courses will have live tutoring:
If you have questions about tutoring, read our Tutoring FAQ.
(23 March 2020) Free access for schools
What we’re doing right now
Grok Learning and the ACA are taking rapid steps to support you, your students, and their parents by giving all students free access to:
- Grok’s courses and competitions (recommended for Years 3–12);
- ACA’s DT Challenges - extended from Years 3–8 (recommended for Years 3-12); and
- ACA’s Cyber Security Challenge 1 - extended from Years 7–12 (recommended for Years 5-12).
This will be available from Tuesday 24th March until Sunday 5 July 2020 (covering Australian Term 2), and includes Web.Comp (starting 11 May).
We have put together a page of all the Grok Learning courses sorted by year level, to make it easy for you to work out what courses to use with your students.
All you need to do is register your students for free on the Grok Learning platform.
If you already have us in your budget for this period, we’d still love your support so we can continue to provide free access to schools who need it.
What we’re doing next
In Grok, we’ll be developing advanced remote classroom features, including expanding our online tutoring so you can message students directly and get live updates on their progress.
In the ACA and Grok, we’ll be adapting content for remote teaching; running webinars on best practices in distance ed, using our resources, and the DT curriculum. You can read our first blog post with tips for teaching remotely here. We'll also be providing relentlessly cheerful and expert support via email, phone, and online if you get stuck or need inspiration. Please email email@example.com with any questions and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.
We won't be leaving behind the kids with limited access, as we’ll be making lots of unplugged activities, especially for primary students and their teachers and carers.
Keep an eye on this page, emails, and our social media for announcements about all of the above. And if you have ideas on how we can help teachers and students, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe and be kind to yourselves.