An instructional technology specialist outlines the key principles guiding his district’s distance learning efforts in the middle of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers across our district immediately got to work, learning new technologies and adjusting curriculum for our new reality: distance learning.  At the end of the day, we know it’s about the students and their learning comes first – no matter the shape or form it may take.

Meet faculty and students where they are

Our district is approaching distance learning technology with educators the same way we look at ensuring students are prepared – the content needs to be relevant for students, and the same is said for our adult learners.  If educators in your district don’t see how the technology will help them, then it will be harder for them to use and embrace. Where possible, provide educators with resources, training, and tangible examples of how they can use the technology tools you’re providing to enhance distance learning.

Focus on the essential standards

Distance learning can be incredibly overwhelming for many teachers, so I’d recommend having them focus on teaching “essential standards.” It’s easy to say students need to know everything, but it’s about boiling learning down to key targets and making sure materials are centered on those essential learning that we as education community have agreed upon.  The same rule applies to adopting the technology.

Make use of digital learning spaces to connect with students and parents

We’ve received questions from educators with things such as, “How can I get this information to students?” or “Where should materials go?”  While other districts may be using different LMS platforms, I highly recommend connecting with your district to find out what LMS platforms are available to you.  We have guidance counselors and social workers who need ways to keep a strong connection with target and at-risk students, so they looked at video platforms to have that face-to-face connection.

Prioritize feedback over grades

Our superintendent made it clear that students are expected to continue learning for the remainder of the year. But it was also made clear that learning won’t include grading; instead, we will focus on giving feedback. Because we can’t control students’ environment, our district deemed it inadvisable to have any grades associated with this time period and rely instead on a feedback model.  Studies have shown that feedback is the most important part of learning, so we’re optimistic students will continue to work hard and learn throughout this time period.

The information for this post was taken from an article by Rick Bray in eSchool News, follow this link for more details and the complete article.