Thursday, March 12, 2020

Coronavirus Conversations: Leveraging Networks and Resources for Online Learning


Please see additional blogs from colleagues and friends after this blog post...

As learners are potentially and quickly shifting from a physical space to a more connected online and public space, teachers want to maintain opportunities for exploration, staying on track with learning goals, all while keeping students safe in a new learning environment.  If and when schools close and alternative methods have to be deployed, teachers will want to continue to be clear about student learning goals and objectives. This will require being thoughtful about WAYS in which they will potentially interact with students and WHAT they will use as relevant resources to support continued student learning. If this will become an opportunity for “online schooling” rather than just online learning then there will be some expectations for self-regulation, motivation to continue to learn at home, and figuring out how students will demonstrate their learning in this new model. 

The big goal here is not just to access information for the sake of doing something should school close, it’s really creating opportunities for collaborative learning and cooperative thinking while leveraging innovations we’ve not had before. We’re enabling learning ANYWHERE! With ANYONE! To that end, here are some potential options for engaging several levels of networks with students:

  • Small Teacher to Student interactions: Remind App or Class Dojo (For teachers to push out announcements, tasks, ideas for learning, links, etc.)
  • Small-Group / Classroom level interactions: Schoology or another online access platform for learning...including blogs. (For teachers to engage in group connectivity, create learning teams, share materials, assign work, converse with students, brainstorm potential (digital) products, etc.)
  • Large Group interactions: Social Media such as Facebook or Twitter (For districts/schools to share announcements, global expectations for a learning organization, create space for conversations and district to home communications.)
  • You may want to consider surveying students now to find out which students do not have access and begin planning resources for those students that are not online.
  • Consider “Office Hours” for equity by phone or school-based phone system to push out information (perhaps daily) for on and offline learning opportunities.
  • Don’t forget snail mail. Documents and information can also be disseminated in the mail, particularly for students with limited or no online access.
  • If you want to explore multiple options for online learning structures or management systems, CLICK THIS LINK to see a list.
  • If you want to contribute to a resource list for schools/teachers of online learning opportunities, CLICK HERE to access a Google Form to share resources. There are already quite a few tools there and we welcome any ideas/resources you have to share!
  • CLICK HERE to access the spreadsheet of those resources.
  • Districts may also want to take a look at this document from International Teachers on the logistics of their responses to school closures and some of the big decisions that they had to make: “If I Had It To Do Over Again.”

If there is time for your school/classroom, it would be a good idea to practice with students on the usage of these tools and any protocols for their use prior to implementation. This especially important for younger students (and their parents!) to make sure there is clarity about expectations and instructional actions at home. My hope is that this is good practice for future unexpected closures such as snow days. What if we just have online days instead? My hope is also for resiliency in the face of adversity. We must believe that we are up to the challenge at hand and model perseverance and ingenuity for our students. We’re navigating the unknown and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a place of fear...it needs to be a place of hope. We will weather this storm.



Note: This post is part of a collaboration between several friends and colleagues who all support great teaching and learning. Check out these other great posts to help you support at-home learning for your students:

Mike Anderson

Mike Anderson shares how we can support routines and behaviors, offer choice, and use language to value the voice of learners as they engage in at-home learning.

Mike Fisher

Mike Fisher shares that if schools need to make decisions about learning online there are several considerations. This includes scale — how big or small you want the opportunity to be and whether your messages and interactions are for big or small groups. It also includes multiple relevant resources and knowing where to go to get what you need for learning experiences.

Bena Kallick and Allison Zmuda

In their first blog post, Bena and Allison offer reflective questions both for educators and students to consider as the entire school community faces new challenges and opportunities. To find more ideas and suggestions on Personalized Learning with Habits of Mind, please visit Learning Personalized and The Institute for Habits of Mind
In the second blog post, Bena and Allison suggest a few tips to a Habit of Mind worth tending to right now— managing impulsivity. To find more ideas and suggestions on Personalized Learning with Habits of Mind, please visit Learning Personalized and The Institute for Habits of Mind.

Aaron Roberts

Aaron Roberts considers the parent, guardian, and caretaker perspective with this new shift in learning. Now that school is suddenly at home, how can adults and kids work together to make a powerful home learning environment? These five tips can help you make the best of this situation. Roberts is a Learning Experience Designer with Mason City Schools in Mason, Ohio. Stories about Mason’s journey into personalized learning can be found at their blog and by following their exploits on Twitter using #MasonPLJourney

Silvia Tolisano


Silvia Tolisano shares her concrete tools and pedagogical guidance on how to grow thinking and sharing with learners in a virtual space. Her blog post shifts our perspective from purely a reactionary one to an “incredible opportunity to document these new forms of learning and collaboratively redefine teaching and learning for the future.” Silvia’s site is a treasure trove of instructional practices and processes that elevate learner voice and co-creation as they seek out information and share their ideas with others.

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