As my colleagues in the UAE prepare to go into COVID-19 locked down they are faced with the same challenge China, Hong Kong and other affected areas are already working to overcome which is transfer of learning onto online platforms. Providing quality, accessible and inclusive learning will be no easy feat for some schools, especially those who do not already have a central and established online learning system. I think about my colleagues who are frantically trying to create quality online content for their students. Are they being supported?
I believe the success of a school during this time is dependent on their ability to consider learner/user accessibility, the delivery of quality content, assessment and monitoring, adaptable online learning environments and supporting teacher capacity building.
- Accessibility – Are all students expected to have access to internet and a device? Are parents prepared to support their learners at home? What assumptions are we making about what resources students have access to?
- Quality Content – Is there a common standard across the school? How are learning intentions and success criteria being communicated? Is there opportunity for learner feedback or questioning (a digital hand-raise)? Is a single pdf worksheet, youtube video ect. acceptable learning activities? How do activities link to curriculum? (Rudolph, 2017)
- Assessment and Monitoring – Are there opportunities to monitor student progress?
- Teacher capacity – What skills do teachers need to possess in order to be successful in creating and sharing quality online content? How can teachers be upskilled and supported? (Hunter, 2015)
- Online learning environment – What platforms do schools already have access to? Can they build on what we are already doing? How can they better utilize the tools they have access to? Are there opportunities for face-to-face learning?
Once these ideas have been considered, schools can start to move forward, building their online learning solutions. Each solution is going to be completely unique to the school, I don’t believe one model works universally, as learners have different needs and teachers have different styles and skills.
My tips and suggestions
- Quality content – All learning activities must be accurately mapped to communicated learning outcomes and allow for differentiation. For example, a shared YouTube video needs to be accompanied with leveled follow up activities and clear learning objectives.
- Synchronous learning – Good option for students who struggle working autonomously or independently. Having synchronous learning like video calls, online-chat sessions could be really beneficial.
- Assessment and monitoring – For schools that are using Google Suite. I would suggest that all learning experiences which are shared on GoogleClassroom need to have a points-scale allocated. Good feedback to students and helpful for teachers.
I do not proclaim that educational technology and online learning is always conducive of quality learning (Escueta, Quan, Nickow & Oreopoulos, 2017), however in these uncertain times simply giving students access to learning is better than none at all. I wonder if this global crisis will be a shifting point in education institutions, particularly K-12 settings, perception of online learning practices.
Escueta, M., Quan, V., Nickow, A. J., & Oreopoulos, P. (2017). Education technology: An evidence-based review (No. w23744). National Bureau of Economic Research.
Hunter, J. (2015). Technology integration and high possibility classrooms: Building from TPACK. Routledge.
Rudolph, M. (2017). Cognitive theory of multimedia learning. Journal of Online Higher Education, 1(2), 1-14.