Tag: distance learning

Best Practices For Virtual Learning In Education

Shai Reshef

Shai Reshef, president of University of the People, an online, non-profit, tuition-free, American-accredited University, says:  “Ready or not, COVID-19 has forced higher education online. Universities were ill-prepared to fully switch online and are all understandably frustrated at having to do so in just a few weeks, and even more so now that there is a possibility of remaining online until 2021.”

Reshef says that a big problem many universities are facing right now is that they have been forced to go online before they are ready. But moving to online instruction is tricky and if not implemented properly, instead of succeeding, the online classes may backfire and create major disappointments.

“Quality higher education online is more than just a live zoom class. Developing content and technique that works online takes time, and creating a quick fix for campus closures is going to be difficult,” he said. “At University of the People, we didn’t need to suddenly adapt to an online environment – we’ve been doing this for the past decade and have the infrastructure in place, and the pedagogy and experience in remote learning. For example, our instructors are experienced in teaching online, and are trained on how to address the unique challenges students will face, such as motivation, self-discipline, and the ability to learn alone.”

According to a University of the People/Harris Poll, nearly a third (31%) of Americans have experienced frustration with online schooling systems since the stay-home orders went into effect.

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The Future of Speech-Language Therapy

Dr. Yair Shapira

Responses by Dr. Yair Shapira, CEO and founder, AmplioSpeech.

What did school-based speech-language therapy look like before COVID-19?

More than 10% of all students suffer from speech-language deficits, and require therapy at some point during their K-12 journey. Until recently, most K-12 schools relied on in-person speech language therapy sessions with Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) hired and trained within the school district. Students would meet either individually or in small groups for face-to-face instruction and SLPs would track and measure progress using their subjective judgement; however, this can often lead to an inconsistent picture of students’ progress and performance.

These school-based SLPs often do not have access to speech-language-specific technologies, but instead utilize the district’s existing resources and the same technologies adopted in traditional classrooms. School-based speech-language therapy has always lagged behind traditional education when it comes to technological adoption, and there hasn’t been a widespread push by school districts to introduce novel technologies and platforms for speech-language students.

How has the pandemic changed the way schools approach speech-language services?

With the recent shift toward online learning caused by COVID-19, K-12 districts are now turning to speech language technologies and platforms such as AmplioSpeech to fill technology and organizational gaps in their speech-language services.

AmplioSpeech is a leading digital speech-language therapy provider that equips SLPs and their students with an AI-based platform for online and onsite therapy, to accelerate students’ progress, reduce SLPs workload, boost IEP compliance and automate documentation. The platform includes a library of smart and engaging practice materials and tools for self-monitoring, measurement, assignment completion, and more. Additionally, AmplioSpeech empowers SLPs to become intervention leaders and clinical decision-makers.

Speech-language students require targeted solutions to continue their progress in the shift to online learning, and are often ill-served by general-purpose services such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. In a current example, AmplioSpeech’s recent partnership with the Texas Education Agency has allowed SLPs across more than 100 Texas school systems to better service more than 10,000 speech-language students in the state while they stay home.

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Virtual Learning During COVID-19: Tips From Educators

MigicovskyResponses by Elizabeth Migicovsky, PhD, a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at San Jose State University in San Jose, California.

One of my biggest challenges in transitioning to online learning is maintaining consistency for students. They signed up for an in-person class at the beginning of the semester not an online class, so I tried to keep it as close to the in-person format as possible. Many of my colleagues have been using voice-over with Powerpoint slides or writing on a tablet, but I find that a bit too impersonal.

I have also been using an educational tool from Osmo called a “Reflector”–it is basically a mirror for my webcam. Right when classes started going online, Osmo came out with a free Projector App for iPad that allows their Reflector to be used as a projector [of my desktop]. This way, I can take the Osmo Reflector off of my camera and speak to my students face-to-face, then I can put it back on and write notes, answer questions, or pose problems for them to do. [i.e. They won’t see the professor’s writing notes as “backward writing” on the wall, like when you do using Face Time.]

Furthermore, I use 3-D models in my chemistry course, and I wouldn’t be able to utilize these if I were only in a Powerpoint or tablet format. The Osmo Projector App makes online interactions feel more like a normal class, and many of my students have commented that it made the online transition much smoother than other courses.

In terms of adjustments I had to make in the transition to online teaching, I have had to omit certain assignments from my course because of the online format. Since I teach biochemistry lab, there are some experiments that the students simply cannot do from home.

Instead, I give them “fake data” and challenge them to write lab reports as if they had done the experiment themselves. Regardless of any changes, I still have high expectations for my students. The courses that I teach are preparing them for more challenging courses, and they will be expected to know this material in future semesters.

McGraw Hill Offers ALEKS MathReady As An Online Direct-To-Student Personalized Math Learning Plan

McGraw-Hill Education wordmark.svgA new online math learning program from McGraw Hill makes it easy and affordable for students and adult learners to prepare for their math placement test, get extra help over the summer, or refresh their skills before returning to college.

ALEKS MathReady is a direct-to-student version of McGraw Hill’s personalized ALEKS program that is used by millions of K-12 and college students to accelerate their math learning and help them succeed in their courses. It is $9.95 for the first month, $24.95 for three months, and $19.95 for each additional month after that.

For students entering college, math placement and college level math courses can be a challenge and are among the contributing reasons that students fall behind or drop out. College math courses often have high failure rates, largely because many new college students lack the foundational math skills needed to be successful. For some, a trusted tutor is a proven model for learning math and reducing math anxiety, yet the high cost of tutoring and scheduling tutorial sessions are barriers. ALEKS MathReady is an affordable alternative for those who are looking for math support.

ALEKS MathReady is a self-paced, online math learning program that is rooted in research and analytics. ALEKS efficiently guides learning by identifying what topics students don’t know and then focusing them on practicing topics they are ready to learn next. With this personalized learning approach, students learn and retain topics efficiently with real-time feedback to keep them motivated and engaged, while reaching their goals.

For more information about ALEKS MathReady or to sign up for access, visit: http://bit.ly/ALEKSMathReady

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Lessons Learned Delivering Virtual Learning Experiences

By Melinda Kong, director of instructional design and learning management system, Nyack College

Melinda Kong

As we emerge from the last few months of the sudden online teaching shift for courses intended for classroom settings, there are a few glaring lessons learned that will help propel educators forward into the future. While much is still unknown for what the next several months will hold, it is certain that online classwork will be a predominant feature in education.

The methods of online teaching will look different within each education context from K12 to higher education, but one thing is certain; online learning is here to stay and we must adapt to the needs of current and incoming students.

We will likely see a mix of three offerings when thinking about the new normal of distanced learning; the continued implementation of hybrid courses, full fall terms taught online-only, and even HyFlex courses, in which students will be able to be in either face-to-face classes or join virtually when needed.

As educators, it’s important to look at what happened as courses were quickly moved online and learn from what was able to be accomplished. Understanding what worked well and what didn’t will help all educators grow and adopt better pedagogy for online instruction.

Foundationally all courses, despite their delivery makeup, involve diligent planning. All teachers, whether in a face-to-face classroom, online course, or a mix of the two, plan extensively for their courses.

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Back to School or the Dining Room Table? How Schools Can Prepare for Back to School

By Ellen Paxton, Chief Learning Officer, Professional Learning Board 

Ellen Paxton

Like everything else post-COVID-19, schools are going to look different this fall. As teachers, we are grappling with that fact and trying to determine exactly how we will help our students come September. Will in-person classroom instruction resume? If so, will wide spaces between desks suffice, or will districts rely on staggered schedules to keep COVID at bay? Will cafeterias and playgrounds remain closed, and what could take their place?

While the future remains uncertain, we can count on one thing: distance learning will remain a part of the plan. Fortunately, this time around, educators have time and experience on their side. Following a tough transition period for most schools, Summer break provides the perfect opportunity to evaluate, invest in, and enhance school-wide PD and distance learning programs.

Educators can use this time to heighten their professional development by taking an online course that helps them transfer their skills from the classroom to a virtual classroom setting. As leaders in teacher training, Professional Learning Board responded to the stay-at-home orders by providing a free, five-hour course, giving teachers the tools they need to succeed in a virtual classroom.

In districts across the country, several common problems have slowed, even prevented, consistent learning this past semester. The priority needs to focus on these important areas:

Removing barriers to equity in remote learning. Every student and instructor needs access to a device and reliable connectivity at home. Some cities have developed partnerships with foundations and technology companies to provide free high-speed internet access to families, and a congressional measure to make it more widely and consistently available is on the table.

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Changing How We Teach In America, Starting Today

By Caleb Hicks, president, Lambda School.

Higher education is struggling to adapt to the current pandemic in unprecedented ways. Campuses across the country are shut down, students have evacuated their dorms, and instructors are scrambling to move their classrooms completely online.

It’s not just about homework and assignments — teachers are trying to engage students while re-imagining the entire classroom experiences in real-time. It begs the questions: What does the classroom of the future really look like? And how can parents, educators, and students best understand and prepare for this new reality?

It starts with the obvious: remove the barrier of physical location with remote learning options. Next is community. Foster student engagement and maintain support systems to ensure digital classrooms are still just as accessible as they are effective.

The classroom of the future will have to meet students where they are, building on basic remote operations with inventive, interactive curriculum and accessible financing options designed so that diverse communities can succeed in this new normal.

The classroom of the future is live, interactive, and entirely online. 

In 2016, nearly a third of all students took an online education course, and in the past two decades, the technology needed to offer full courses online has improved significantly.

Online learning offers flexibility and often complements in-person courses or lectures. For many students, however, remote learning is the only option. It opens up access to students who would otherwise be out of reach. In particular, students who are their family’s primary caretaker, those who live far from brick-and-mortar institutions, or those with disabilities are sometimes excluded or discouraged from enrolling in higher education without online options. Remote instruction, by design, brings more students into the fold.

Online instructors, though, have a challenge to meet: creating a learning experience that extends beyond a recorded lecture. To ensure student success long-term, student engagement and community building within a virtual classroom is critical. Impact can be easily lost behind a screen, but if you focus on live and collaborative instruction versus static recordings, students feel empowered and held accountable to play an active role in their experience.

Specifically, maintain smaller group settings, no matter how large the lectures are. Have students start and end days in breakout peer groups, where they can have deeper 1:1 discussions and opportunity for collaboration. One way we’ve utilized this at Lambda School is by using Zoom’s breakout function to seamlessly split students off into virtual small-groups during larger lectures. We also facilitate regional student meet-ups in person as well as peer-to-peer communication via Slack to maintain a sense of student body unity.

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Long-Term Effects of COVID-19 On Education

Responses from Sabari Raja, co-founder and CEO, Nepris.  

Because most schools have moved to virtual learning environments in response to COVID-19, what are the likely long-term outcomes of this?

Many school districts were unprepared for long-term remote instruction, and unexpected school closures have shed some light on the need for a robust virtual learning strategy that takes effectiveness and ease of use into account without sacrificing safety. Most districts have struggled with integrating live instruction and have so far only offered asynchronous modes of learning, which creates a huge gap and leaves many kids behind.

Technology solution providers now have an opportunity to step up and help bridge this gap. It’s clear that virtual learning will be the “new normal” moving forward. Technology becomes a must-have in supporting these new models of teaching and learning.

Will more schools embrace distance learning once we’re beyond the pandemic? If so, what will that look like? Will some educational entities move beyond physical classrooms altogether?

This experience should permanently shift the educational roadmap, with the continuation of remote learning in some capacity. Physical classrooms are not going to go away anytime soon, but small group instruction and blended models with some in-person classes, combined with remote instruction, could become the new reality. Maybe high school will start looking more like a college campus where students are not stuck to a classroom all day and all week long. They have more flexibility in what classes they take and when they take them.

The biggest issue with adapting to remote learning is classroom management, safety, and security. There is a fear of virtual classrooms due to this lack of control; however, most of these fears can be addressed with adequate teacher training. This summer is going to be a crucial time for districts to choose the right tools, train their teachers, and be prepared to continue distance learning in some capacity going forward. Adequate Teacher PD is going to be a determining factor in the success of adapting to distance learning.

In essence, what is the future of classroom-based learning and the technology that plays a role in providing instruction?

The future could be a hybrid of in-person instruction and technology-driven remote learning. We have an opportunity to use technology not just for teacher-led instruction but also to bring industry connections and real-world learning to students that traditionally had very limited access to people and places outside of their communities. Technology can also provide self-paced learning opportunities for students who don’t do very well in traditional classroom environments.

Virtual learning has been proven to offer the flexibility and adaptability for students who are balancing many things outside of school, whether it is socio-economic factors, the requirements of competitive sports, or different learning styles. These models and tools have been in practice before COVID-19 within a few groups, but now the vast majority have had to embrace these solutions very quickly.

At Nepris, our goal has been to use our expertise in virtual platforms to adapt quickly to provide distance learning tools for virtual classroom, real-world learning, and to support virtual summer events, such as internships and job shadows, while keeping in mind that successful teacher training is vital.

How Has Education and Virtual Learning Changed Because of the Pandemic?

Responses from Nader Qaimari, chief learning officer, ISACA.

Because most schools have moved to virtual learning environments in response to COVID-19, what are the likely long-term outcomes of this?

It’s important to distinguish between true distance or virtual learning and crisis virtual learning. Right now, yes, many organizations and schools have moved to doing everything virtually, yet we are not really where we need to be to say we’re truly virtual.

We are doing what we can, but not necessarily doing it correctly. I imagine that shortly after this crisis subsides, we will see a quick pendulum swing back to much more face-to-face interaction (as we all crave it) but then people will move to having serious discussions around what this means long-term. With my kids, for example, I am extremely interested in how we will measure the efficacy of distance learning. It’s not as easy to measure as parents who are working from home right now can’t monitor their children’s progress all day, like teachers can in a closed environment. More tools to facilitate that will be necessary, and more importantly, the adoption of those tools.

Will more schools embrace distance learning once we’re beyond the pandemic? If so, what will that look like? Will some educational entities move beyond physical classrooms altogether?

At a minimum, virtual learning will no longer be viewed as some elusive, experimental aspiration, but a true possibility – with limits. We are now a few weeks into a stay-at-home order for 80% of the population and I am pretty confident that if you ask most parents, they want their kids to go back to a physical classroom setting. The physical social interaction is key and the appreciation for teachers is at an all-time high. When you move to other areas of learning, however, like corporate learning, it seems that distance learning is a true possibility. It’s more convenient, more cost-effective and more efficient. As the organizations that deliver that content improve, and the technology improves, it doesn’t seem far-fetched to say that more corporate learning will continue to move to an online-only format.

I really think that it will not happen in our lifetime. There will be options to do that as an alternative, but I don’t think that will be the norm in the next few decades. Education does not move that fast, even after a crisis.

In essence, what is the future of classroom-based learning and the technology that plays a role in providing instruction?

The goal is to recognize each for the value it brings. The technology should facilitate instruction and make it more efficient. The teacher/instructor should personalize it and make it stick. I have never subscribed to the belief that teachers would get replaced with technology. That is thinking about it incorrectly. Technology can help teachers become better, though. By removing the manual work and freeing up time, teachers can do what they do best – connect with students, engage them, and make sure they understand. That is why the classroom will be around for a long time. We crave that social interaction.

Long-Term Effects of Education and Technology Because of COVID-19

Responses from Adam Garry, senior director of education strategy, Dell Technologies.

Because most schools have moved to virtual learning environments in response to COVID-19, what are the likely long-term outcomes of this?

A: A likely outcome is that schools will realize that virtual learning should be a component of every student’s learning journey, but fully online will not work for most.  In the rush to move online, many educators are learning that what they had to do in 14 days should really take months. The K–12 school systems that already solved for access and moved toward blended learning had a much easier time shifting. As a result, we will likely see a strong push for access and blended learning going into next school year. School systems and higher education institutions will build for the future with blended environments as a core component of design and this will allow for the educator and student to have a smooth transition into fully online learning whenever they may choose.

Also, moving forward the technology leader will be seen as an essential part of the leadership team, if they haven’t been already.  Administrators are realizing that learning simply can’t happen without the support of IT and, therefore, we should anticipate technology leaders in education will have a voice to support all decisions that impact the vision and the day-to-day work.  These leaders will need to look beyond just the devices and think about the infrastructure needed to support learning anytime, anywhere.

Will more schools embrace distance learning once we’re beyond the pandemic? If so, what will that look like? Will some educational entities move beyond physical classrooms altogether?

This is a question that came up on one of our recent CIO chats that we host and the answer is maybe.  I don’t think that it will be embraced as it is being designed right now because most school systems and institutions are rushing to get something created to support their learners and likely would do things differently with more time.

But I think we will see collaborative work happen across the education spectrum to create courses and curriculum that can be implemented in ways that take advantage of face-to-face and online learning. This will allow schools and universities to redefine how they use physical space and tailor more toward the actual learning.

For example, students working in a collaborative group on a project might need a smaller space in the library with a white board, laptops, internet connection, and a screen to share. While other students are in a lecture hall getting new information via a Socratic seminar. Also, we might rethink how we use projects and playlists to support personalized learning that defines mastery with application of learning, so all learners have an opportunity to show learning in unique ways.

There will likely always be an element of classroom learning at a physical school, however, that will likely look very different in coming years as pedagogy and technology continue to evolve in new ways to empower learners.

In-classroom learning remains essential until we can solve the issue of equity. We still have students and teachers that do not have the correct devices or broadband access for virtual learning. We’re seeing schools grappling with how to conduct special education or help ESL students with a balance of synchronous and asynchronous virtual learning.

Additionally, in-classroom learning provides additional social and societal benefits including school lunches, after school programs and a safe space for children in less ideal home situations.

It also remains essential because learners are social, and the physical building creates opportunities for collaboration and learning that wouldn’t be possible if we were all working in remote locations.

In essence, what is the future of classroom-based learning and the technology that plays a role in providing instruction?

I am not sure that the vision for the future has changed; I just think we have a new sense of urgency.  School systems and institutions are still moving toward a definition of personalized learning that gives students some voice and choice in the learning process.  This requires access to technology and the internet at home. If we can solve the inequities that exist today for our learners, then we will be able to shift to environments that provide true blended learning and remove time and space as the barriers.  Learners will be involved in competency-based models that allow them to learn at their own pace. The university will become a hub for life-long learning and students will move in and out based on short and long term goals that they set with an advisor. In the end, we will utilize technology as the platform to enable great innovation and shift the model of learning to meet the needs of all learners.