Welcome to the Learning Continuity Guidebook, this post is the first in a nine-part series. Click here to learn more about the guidebook and its contributors.
During the early days of the coronavirus crisis, remote learning models were hastily implemented in schools. Caught in the rush, administrators had no option but to adopt varying approaches and technologies. Disparate policy landscapes, combined with the unequal capacity of school districts to support remote learning, has created perhaps the greatest variability in instructional experiences the nation has ever known.
Whether it’s a pandemic, a fire, inclement weather, or some other unforeseen circumstance, learning must continue. As district leaders, it’s our responsibility to set up our students, and teachers, for success. Our experiences – and countless conversations – have shown us that the following nine pillars are the core considerations for a learning continuity plan that is effective, inclusive, and enduring.
Throughout this series, we will dig deeper into how to develop each of the pillars outlined below. Each blog post will share helpful advice and information from education veterans and acting technology leaders who represent a wealth of diversity from across the country. No matter where you are in your remote learning efforts now is the time to reflect, look to the future, and prepare for what comes next.
1. Start With Your Vision & Goals
As a school system stakeholder, you have a compelling vision for what the future can look like. Your leadership articulates that vision and unifies your teams through explicit goals. It’s through this work that you can create a long-term remote learning strategy to ensure learning continuity.
Want to see how others are doing this? Follow districts in California, New York, and Texas as they show exceptional leadership through these trying times.
2. Establish Equity & Access
Equity and access are critical components for remote learning success. To realize the full power of digital learning, access to reliable, robust Internet service must be available to all students. Anything less than all heightens pre-existing inequalities, making success impossible. This includes ensuring adequate bandwidth, highly resilient technology infrastructure, and take-home technology.
It’s a complicated issue to tackle, and you’ll need help that ranges from industry and government to community and local businesses. But it can be done, and it’s worth the intense effort – your students deserve it.
Every district’s approach will be different, but resources like CoSN’s Digital Equity Toolkit and advice from leaders can provide guidance.
3. Secure & Sustain Funding
Remote learning plans are driving school systems to rethink how funding is secured and sustained. Investments in technology infrastructures, devices and connectivity, simplified access to systems in the cloud, analytics, eLearning resources, and data privacy are now overarching priorities.
From FCC funds to corporate partnerships, districts can use a combination of traditional and creative sources to fund their efforts to meet each student’s unique needs and ensure learning continues.
4. Build a Plan for the Technology Ecosystem
Your technology ecosystem needs tools and technology that ensure teachers and students remain engaged, whether they are in the classroom, or learning from home.
Going forward, schools need to consider platforms that manage digital environments, learning management systems, video conferencing tools, and learning object repositories. The key is finding innovative products and services that both work together and support both in-class and at-home learning.
5. Strengthen Data Privacy & Security
School systems are entrusted with access to private information about students and staff. They need strong measures in place to build trust and keep data private, especially in remote learning environments. Now is the time to strengthen security practices while balancing both instructional innovation and data privacy.
6. Develop Teacher & Student Capacity
Remote learning is entirely new to most teachers and students. Training and development are essential. The more time spent preparing teachers for proper instruction during these new conditions, the greater the gains will be in student outcomes and learning. School districts are going to need to be innovative in helping teachers balance between building their own capacity and preparing students for the adjustment to remote instruction.
7. Consider & Work With Families
Life has shifted drastically for students and their families in the last few months. As remote learning continues, school systems need to consider and accommodate families’ needs, including the pressures of supporting their children’s learning while working from home or working outside the home.
8. Implement Remote Learning
How will you get devices to students? How will teachers meet and communicate? Districts need tactical logistics plans to make a quick move to remote learning whenever necessary. Having those foundations in place will allow your remote learning plan to get off the ground, whether it’s for a second wave of COVID-19 or a weather-related remote learning day.
9. Maintain & Improve Your Learning Continuity Plan
As you execute your plan, you will undoubtedly uncover gaps. Gathering feedback in short intervals, monitoring progress, and observing teachers and students in action is crucial to guide you on what needs to be adjusted and modified. What’s working? What areas could use improvement? Build a continuous improvement model that will help everybody improve over time.
On Friday, 5/14/20, education leaders share their advice, experiences, and ideas on addressing and planning for 'Equity and Access Issues'. Follow us on social media to stay up-to-date with new entries in this series, or subscribe using the form below.
As we continue through the series, we’ll share resources and best practices from trailblazers and districts leading the way. Here are some that stand out for their vision, expertise, and usefulness.
Districts to follow
Leaders to learn from
Practical tools and news you can use