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How is it being First School to Face Virtual DP Authorisation Visit?

How is it being First School to Face Virtual DP Authorisation Visit?

It all started with early morning (India Time) mail from Singapore office, Friday 13th March 2020, stating “We have just this morning received an update from our head office that all travel for visits is to be stopped effective yesterday.For this reason we will have to either move the verification visit 16-17th March to a virtual platform, or ask the school to postpone the visit to a time when the face to face visit again becomes an option.”

Imagine how awkward was it for a Head of School, who was looking forward to have IB Authorisation Visit to take place after two days. This very information has suddenly turned our Auth Visit into gleam possibility. 
I was in my office sharp at 8, called my DPC and SLT members for crisis meeting. Entire team was disheartened, moment the news was revealed. We spoke to IB Asia Pacific Office, and were suggested to go through “Remote pre-authorization supports FINAL_e.pdf” the IBO protocol and guideline document 2017, which was attached in next mail. We could see ray of hope…
Why we are eager to have DP Authorisation in March 2020? Because our MYP 5 batch graduating in 2020 and if we will not try to offer Diploma, either they will have to relocate to anther IB school, each at the distance of minimum 300 KM distance or go to other curriculum school. We thought lets be risktaker and try it out.
What are the Challenges?The WGS team unanimously agreed for Virtual authorisation, which in such Pandemic situation is the best option. We, Wockhardt Global School, are fortunate to have state-of-art IT infrastructure in place so we opted to take the chance. Our immediate challenges were:
1.     Which Platform to use?We as organisation use CISCO Web X Meet, but it’s not very popular way to connect in India where apps like WhatsApp and FB Messenger are more in fashion. With IB Singapore office’s permission we immediately connected with DP Auth Team Members and Requested for trial run of Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp Video, Google Duo, and Reliable Backup as Landline phone with Speaker phone, for which they agreed and we decided to call our IT Team on Weekend this task. After trials we decided to stick to Skype as first Choice and Zoom as backup. Landline, if nothing works. 
2.     How to exchange documents?Relay on Google services or Cloud Storage Apps, to be not to be…time was flying (we are 5 days a week, day school). With the support of my IT team and DP Team we decided to use Cloud Space for exchanging documents if they are more in space or else use Google, easy and familiar for all the parties involved. 
3.     What about virtual campus tour?Our next big question was how to go for “Campus Tour Virtually” as we wanted to go for real-time tour rather than recorded one. Realtime live video streaming helps viewer to sense school philosophy and IB Practices in place. Our Challenge was seamless connectivity while moving from one block to another as each block has different device for Wifi connectivity. We tried multiple options and decided to stick to Zoom via mobile device and mobile data. Which actually was better experience for our team Members as well as Auth Team Members. 
4.     Holding Room as VC Room…We converted our DPC office, which was going to be our Holding Room for Visiting Team Members as Video Conferencing Room. We followed the visiting team agenda for next two days, and till exit meeting it was manageable task.        Reflection 
I think in extreme conditions it good to have alternative options in hand, with support from IB, whatever stage be it applicant, consultancy, affiliation or evaluation, schools can showcase their readiness and preparedness for the programme against all odds. I also see this as commitment of organisation to adhere to deadlines and respect by all means. This also gave us an opportunity to work on e-platform, and now with COVID-19 Pandemic situation my entire team has turned to remote teaching…     

Dos and Don’ts:

Dos  1.     Ensure your ISP know about your Virtual Meeting Plans so that they insure better connectivity. Do keep standby Internet Connection. 2.     Update all the software (We recommend Licenced ones) and Apps you are going to use.  3.     Keep Battery charged and Appropriate Charging cables handy  4.     Use different platforms ready for communication. We had Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, and Landline, you can work out best fit as per your environment. 5.     One IT Expert to be onsite.

Don’ts 1. Don’t relay on Mobile data, as sometimes it may, give you glitches. 2. Avoid using apps and software which you are not familiar with. 3. Try different Keep Calm IB is friendly and understand challenges schools face…

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