I wrote a blog about 4 months ago, at the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic. At that time, with the information we were given, I did not think that I would be looking into how this will continue to affect our lives in the next school year. As I sit writing this, I see a news notification stating Gavin Newsom has made masks mandatory in the state of CA. The constantly changing routine to our daily lives is burning a hole in my already taxed brain. I am a credentialed teacher, I am a product manager for an educational solutions company, and I train and implement our programs around the world. I live in the space of digital learning. I am also a parent, a parent of a child in a traditional school, and two children starting kindergarten in the fall. I am sitting on a double-edged sword: professionally I know what to do, but personally I feel overwhelmed and scared for what to do for my own children in the fall. These myriad emotions lead me to think about where we have been with online learning and where we have the potential to go with online learning.
Transitioning to Online Learning
Even now in 2020, the idea of moving a student to online learning can be very unnerving for many families. I attribute this mostly to unfamiliarity. When I was growing up, distance learning consisted of working out of your textbook at home and having visits from a teacher to fill in the gaps. And while that model still exists, we have come so much further with how we can accommodate different student needs.
Online content, I should say good online content, is curated by curriculum specialists and targeted to align with state and common core standards. With the emergence of online content that is both engaging and filled with multimedia, the embedded instruction has allowed students to master concepts more easily, and proceed through courses at a more personalized rate. Families should ensure students are facilitated and supported by highly qualified teachers. This simple fact was the major deciding factor when I took my current role working in digital education. The teachers need to be present; the teachers need to be highly qualified, and the teachers’ first priority is the students and their mastery of the concepts. Just because learning has moved digitally for your child, does not mean the teacher is less in control or involved in the education process. We are just shifting to allow the student to learn in a different modality, and to allow the teacher to support in a different modality.
Heading in a New Direction
With or without the onset of the pandemic, I believe education was headed on a much different trajectory than we have been accustomed to. With the inception of quality online learning programs, such as Advantages School International, students have a choice: a choice in how they approach their education and a choice in what courses they take. Students are no longer limited to the course offerings within their brick and mortar walls. With this different trajectory comes the need for a mind shift for families. Online learning, or blended learning, requires a measure of personal responsibility from the learner. Is online learning for everyone? No. Is traditional learning for everyone? No.
We are in a wonderful position with education now, that students and families have choice. Choice to see the world differently in regards to learning. For a look at all of the courses offered at Advantages School International, click here.
I thoroughly believe if we allow ourselves to shift our thinking away from preconceived notions of online learning, and open ourselves to the flexibility, choice, and accountability it gives students, we are opening doors and possibilities we might never have been aware of. Our learners, of all ages, are resilient, and given the opportunity, can demonstrate a strong sense of personal accountability and responsibility in their learning. If we facilitate the positive we will receive the best from our learners.
This blog post was provided by Mariam Purcell, Project Manager at ADVANTAGES Digital Learning Solutions.