With the Learn at Home reality this past spring, there has been a great deal of ramping up and learning about online teaching that took place. It doesn’t take long to follow educators to find some that did well in the reality and others that really had to do a great deal of learning on the fly.
We still don’t know for sure how every school district will handle the 2020-2021 school year. There have been all kinds of suggestions and ideas speculated to date and I suspect that it will get fast and furious over the summer. The Ministry of Education has provided three scenarios. Pick a card, any card…
Some things seems to make sense; if elementary schools are back in close to regular routine, the common wisdom seems to be to keep students in one place with no movement and move teachers if that’s required. Many suggestions about taking classes outside where possible are appropriate.
I still have difficulties seeing how busing will work via my crystal ball so will continue to think about that one.
One glaring shortcoming of society that impacted students was the lack of technology / quality technology at home. That seemed to catch many schools off guard and struggles were made to distribute school computers and internet access as needed. It truly was a band-aid solution which probably worked as well as it could. Then there was the directive to do synchronous teaching which logistically isn’t possible with one computer and more than one student using that computer.
We all live in fear that there will be another surge of outbreaks of the virus, resulting in yet another case of Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, …
There needs to be a plan in place to ensure that all students have enough and appropriate technology at home along with the connectivity to make it work. Things are pretty quiet right now about this topic. Ever the optimist, I really hope that serious thinking and planning is happening at the Ministry and District levels. Not having it addressed last spring is excusable. Who saw this coming? But not having a plan in place to address the worst case scenario for the fall would be educational malpractice.
There are all kinds of solutions that are available.
- I’ve always been a proponent of tax credits for parents who purchase technology for their children to use for homework. Regardless of any pandemic, it is just something that needs to be in place if we believe that technology skills have a place in a child’s future
- School technology needs to be easily repurposed to work outside the confines of the school. That means that images applied over the summer need to be made with this in mind
- If new computers at home are not possible, then initiatives like Renewed Computer Technology need to be seriously considered and promoted and not just seen to be as a cute alternative
Of course, just having technology in place doesn’t guarantee success. To the credit of teachers and students, they kind of made it work this past spring. All school districts need to be designing and making compulsory learning about whatever Learning Management System they will be using for all involved for the first week of school. They shouldn’t be caught again without a plan. It should also provide skills for the future even if school resumes in a somewhat normal fashion.
If you’re an educator and reading this point, how about sharing your own learning that happened this past spring? What are you and your district doing to ramp up for the fall and beyond? Are there writing teams in place right now to provide support for moving courses/subjects online?