Planning for success

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?

Author: dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: http://www.dougpeterson.ca Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dougpete I'm bookmarking things at: http://www.diigo.com/user/dougpete

6 thoughts on “Planning for success”

  1. A really thorough post here, Doug! Our Board provided iPads to all those without technology at home. There were also some data-enabled iPads (not sure how this exactly worked) for those families without wifi access. We’ve also now been trained and had opportunities to explore both The Hub (a D2L platform) and Microsoft Teams. These will be our two options for next year (if required). Less options might help families when navigating different platforms. This summer, I’m one of two site leads for a Board online camp, and we’ll be facilitating this camp through MS Teams: adunsiger.com/2020/07/04/do-you-play-too. Almost 200 students are registered for our camp, and we’re just one of a few offered. I wonder if some time spent exploring these platforms this summer might help parents and families. Our camp is for students that just finished K and 1, so the additional time learning these platforms for these young learners could be useful. I’m curious to hear about other people’s experiences. It’s the blending of online and virtual that has me wondering the most, especially when educators will be at school every day, even though students may not. How do we do it all? I’m interested to hear some more direction in the coming months.

    Aviva

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  2. “hear some more direction in the coming months” doesn’t that speak volumes? While there is always an air of uncertainty for the fall, new kids, new courses, and new resources, the one thing that you could count on was the physical structure of school and the reliance on a regularly scheduled timetable. How do you plan under these circumstances? I suspect that many are preparing for the worst and hope they’re pleasantly surprised when it doesn’t turn out that badly.

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    1. I’m going to admit: I’m trying not to plan too much. I’m attending a few webinars, exchanging some ideas with my teaching partner, playing more with MS Teams, and trying to wait patiently. It’s a Catch 22 situation: as I don’t want to hear too early and spend my whole summer being overwhelmed by possibilities, but also hear too late, and not have a chance to prepare. My understanding is that we’ll hear more after August 4th. I’m trying to breathe deeply until then.

      Aviva

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