Sending a little mid-month support during the COVID-19 outbreak. On Friday, Alaska announced that schools would be in full distance-learning mode until May 1, at the soonest. This morning, my good friend found out that her school in Virginia would not reopen for the rest of the school year – she’s feeling the toll that this decision is taking on her 8th graders, who rely so much on the social connection of middle school, as I’m sure many of you fellow educators are.
A lot of the conversations I’ve had in the past week with educators (and non-educators, who are suddenly finding themselves at home with their kids, while trying to juggle their new “WFH- Work From Home” lifestyles), have been around access – what is this actually going to look like for each of our students? What are the essentials of school that we want to maintain for the sake of our students? Routine, a feeling of comfort and safety, and social connection are a few themes…
Whatever route your school and district is taking, whether you’re going full synchronous (face-to-face) with Zoom’s recent offering for free accounts during this crisis, or a slower-paced asynchronous, I want to remind you of this:
Design for the student experience, not for the technology.
This is not a new concept – it’s the same conversation we have when discussing how technology can be better integrated in the school day – do we use it as a tool? As for learning? As the one and only way? The reason I think it is so important to design for the student experience is that every student experience is going to be different from the next student’s. Whether or not students have access to technology shouldn’t alter the experience of learning that we’re able to design for them.
I know this sounds like a big sell- especially in today’s tech-driven world. But one thing is for certain. This crisis has highlighted a huge, existing gap in our systems, and distance learning may only increase the gap. In order to minimize the impact that the equity gap may have on our students, we have to intentionally design the access points and the experience, and the technology can be a tool to get there.
Here are the 3 questions I encourage you to ask before diving into any planning – drive from your student’s strengths!
- Slide Carnival slide templates: beautiful slides, all around!
Tech tools for delivering content:
- Khan Academy
- Virtual Museums
- Crash Course videos
- Nat Geo educator resources
- Ted Ed Animations
Tech tools for capturing student-centered learning:
Tech tools for capturing group learning:
- Google Docs
Tech tools for students to create/demonstrate their knowledge