Coronavirus Conversations: Leveraging Networks and Resources for Online Learning

Mike Fisher

Mike Fisher is a former middle grades teacher who is now a full-time author and educational consultant specializing in the intersection between instructional technology and curriculum design. He actively blogs for the Curriculum 21 website and ASCD’s Edge Social Network. Find his books published by ASCD. Find Mike on Twitter @fisher1000.

Photo credit

This post first appeared on digigogy and is reprinted with permission.

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.

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