Responses from Chris Lazartic, middle school STEAM coach, student leadership and enterpreneurship coach, Aspen Academy.
Are you moving to e-learning platforms? Which vendors are you partnering with to deliver these solutions?
On March 16th, Aspen Academy transitioned to a virtual learning platform. Luckily, most teachers, students and parents were already familiar with their learning management system (LMS): Canvas. This online tool allows teachers to communicate grades, assignments, and much more to students and parents. Aspen has also purchased Zoom Education host accounts for every teacher, which allows them to teach live classes and record those lessons if needed.
Additionally, all students in grades two and above are provided with Google accounts, which allow them to use Google apps, such as Docs, Classroom and Slides. Students can also continue to use nearly all of their texts and academic learning tools because they are available online. In some grades, students were issued iPads or loaned computers.
Are your IT and service teams able to meet the need in the new era or have you been caught flat footed?
Two weeks prior to this transition, Aspen Academy began proactively communicating, training and preparing for virtual learning and created a Virtual Learning Hub with FAQs for parents. Although the technologies and systems did not work perfectly the first week, teachers were flexible and quickly adapted to this new style of teaching. The middle school, lower school and programs directors, along with the school’s technology manager, were available around the clock to help all users.
In the event of a significant technology issue, Aspen also supported by an outside IT company, Alerio Technology Group. We’ve received more than 90 testimonials from parents who felt the technology and teaching exceeded their expectations, like this one:
“It went surprisingly SO much smoother than I anticipated for the first day! There were no technical difficulties, you all had your lesson plans organized and were able to clearly explain the work the kids needed to do! THANK YOU for your dedication and hard work to all of our kiddos – you are so greatly appreciated!” — parent of third-grade student
Any and all perspectives wanted. Good and bad, lessons learned, best practices and guidance for others.
Our teachers host online office hours, and one thing we’ve noticed is that students are wanting more connection and support during this social distancing. In some cases, teachers are Google Hangouts with students until 7 p.m. For the teachers, it can also be a balancing act if they’re teaching from home and have their own children at home. Many are working longer hours than anticipated to create lessons and provide the personalized experience they pride themselves on. The school sent our faculty GrubHub certificates after the first week as a way of saying, “thank you,” for teachers’ Herculean efforts to go live over the weekend.