WHAT TO DO WHEN ALL OUR STUDENTS ARE LEARNING ONLINE
March 6th I wrote an article describing the situation around the world regarding schools and the Coronavirus. Exactly a week later all the schools in Norway closed down and today our students rely on learning online. This is the way it has to be now. And to be honest, I can not believe that some countries (like the UK) still have not taken the same measures. As of 12 March, 49 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North America and South America have announced or implemented school and university closures. UNESCO is providing immediate support to countries, including solutions for inclusive distance learning. The total number of learners affected: 391,515,149. If we want to contain this virus, people need to stay at home as much as possible. That means the number of students without schooling in the world today will keep on growing. The implications are staggering. Day by day the number increases and countries, districts and schools have different strategies on how to cope with this. I know that most of my educational friends around the world are helping each other, by sharing resources, web-sites and conducting seminars. I wrote about some smart resources here.
In this article I would like to emphasize the following;
When working with technology, teacher involvement and leadership is vital. And today it is even more so. In other words, students are facing daunting times, they are scared, they are uncertain, and they are at home. The presence of the teacher is very important, and we don’t really know how long it will last. Even if I’m certain “This too shall pass”, my fear is that many students will end up with report cards with missing grades. That could in a worst-case scenario lead to many students having to take the year over again. It is costly for our society but most costly for the students.
Here are some points for the schools:
- Information to teachers, parents and students. Have up to date channels for information. Use the school’s LMS to inform students, homepage, and mail to inform parents.
- Clear and understandable information. What will happen now? How do we ensure that all our students are still learning? We do not know how long this will last.
- Students and teachers meet at specific times. Good advice is to keep the school’s timetable.
- All the students meet their teacher as if they were at school. It is important to do this if we want the same quality in the learning. They meet by logging on their LMS and communicating with the teacher.
- Teachers should use the learning management system to make clear plans for each class. Many students will struggle with self-discipline. We have to do everything we can to make this easy and manageable.
- Use Microsoft Teams for video meetings. This is very helpful because it is important that the students see their teachers, can talk to them and get instant feedback.
- I predict that there will be no exams in Norway this year. It makes it even more important for us to ensure that all our students graduate. They need to be assessed in every class. Teachers have to report back the instance they think a student is falling behind.
- This is the time for students to realize that they need to take ownership of their learning. That does not mean leaving the responsibility of learning to them, but they need to realize that even if they are at home and not in class, they need to study, read, learn and submit assignments. They are responsible when it comes to being assessed and eventually get a report card.
Good luck to every student who is studying alone at home today. And thank you to all the teachers who are helping them. These are trying times. Today we need to rely on our medical staff to save those who get sick and our teachers to help our students get on with their education.