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.
By Zach Vander Veen, vice preisdent and co-founder, Abre.io.
When schools embrace a one device to one student program, they inherit concerns on keeping devices functional and lasting. What is the best way to provide support for occasional breaks, wear and tear, and the grime of daily use? Most school tech teams operate on shoestring budgets. They’re limited in their monetary and staffing resources.
Fortunately, students have the unique opportunity to support the infrastructure while partaking in a class that covers a wide variety of topics relating to technology. Around the country, schools that embrace 1:1 initiatives are learning to leverage learning opportunities for their students. We’re going to look into how Hamilton City School District supports 11,000 Chromebooks with students who participate in the Technology Support and Innovation class.
The class begins with a study checklist. Each small group of students has an objective and job broken into geographical regions of the school. One group heads down the hall to Mr. Becket’s class with a substitute cart of Chromebooks. They return a few minutes later with his classroom cart complete with several devices with cracked screens. The checklist comes out and they begin to walk through procedures. They clean, they repair, and they inspect all the while laughing and cracking occasional pop-culture jokes.
“Students are an untapped resource, and we use their talents and abilities to contribute to protecting the assets of the district, says Tricia Smith, Tech Director at Hamilton City Schools. “Students are interested in learning Chromebook repair skills. With the correct training and nurturing of 21st-century skills, our students have become an integral part of protecting and maintaining our student devices.”
Hamilton approached having a student Technology Support Team with a few objectives.
Support the district’s 1:1 program.
Provide learning opportunities for students.
Maintain an expect cost structure.
A robust framework was crucial to the success of implementing a 1:1 program supported by students. While it took some refining, the district settled on a structure that consisted of five key components.