This article makes a lot of sense. I especially appreciate the author’s differentiation between “distance learning” and “online learning”.
What are the first steps school leaders should take? If you’re in a school system that has shut yet, make sure students have as many learning materials as possible to take home with them. Get them backpack-ready. Then, for middle and high schools, think about moving to a distance-learning model. I’m choosing those words carefully. We’re moving to a distance-learning model, not an online-learning model. In a distance-learning model, you’re taking the components of a typical school day and moving them to some type of online or remote-learning equivalent and you’re using the same pedagogy that you use in face-to-face courses. You’re trying to create a remote-learning equivalence of what you would do in school classrooms. The easiest way to do this is to create a simplified schedule of the school day and have class times and meetings be “conference-room meetings” instead of in-person meetings. They could be video conference rooms, they could be audio conference rooms, they could be app-based conference rooms, or, ideally, use of a platform that allows for all three… Schools should in effect try to keep the school day intact? First period, second period, third period, lunch. I would, but perhaps make it a little simpler than what we might do in a physical school. School schedules can tend to be complex. The more we can simplify things in this situation, the better. I also don’t think that we should underestimate or under-resource social-emotional checkpoints for kids. So maybe you have an all-school meeting on the video platform to start the day off. Maybe you have times for teachers to meet with an advisory group or a grade-level meeting or other types of social-emotional checkpoints… So you wouldn’t maintain the general contours of the school day for elementary school children. Rather, you’d give them material to work on and let their parents work with them independently? That’s the baseline idea. Since we know it’s not just parents but grandparents, other relatives and even older siblings who are providing support, it’s probably just not reasonable at younger grade levels to expect a normal school day to continue in a remote situation. But that should be a school-by-school, district-by-district decision, too… What about assessments, tests, papers? …I would put a pause on testing at the start, until school districts can sort out these sorts of issues. [go read the whole thing–Darren]
We’re sorta making this all up as we go along. Adapt and overcome!