Schools in America have seen crisis and surprises throughout history. This crisis seems to be much different in that it has direct affects on all aspects of our life. In any direction we look we are in someway touched by the outcomes of Covid-19 in our present and future life. Much is being considered due to the crisis with the length of school years and the delivery systems used. In the last week their has been an abrupt interest at all levels of education with remote learning. Remote education is not new we started with correspondence courses in Europe in the 1800’s. Today we have alternatives but the most attractive now is online. During the past twenty years schools have been given the options of online delivery from different platforms to produce courses online. The early methods were simply email transfers between students and teachers From this method we learned there was a lot more to be accomplished.
Day after day our students at all ages have been sent home with no real calendar day they will return to their school. Leadership in many of the schools have turned to online education to continue the road map to grade level succession. It is no secret we have been operating across the country and locally with delivery and methods which have not changed over many years of graduations. During the last few weeks an expectation and duty was to quickly reboot our systems to a remote online delivery methodology. Schools quickly began looking at the online advantage to continue education for students. The educational systems would now need to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses for their teachers and students. After talking with elementary teachers, secondary teachers and higher education communicated separate issues and strengths. Online delivery has been an alternative to learning for higher education for those who needed the flexibility to attain skills for graduation with flexibility. Now, this flexibility for the masses has nothing to do with the decision to move to remote learning achievements. While considering at home education provided by public or private elementary or secondary schools will require more day to day parent or guardian involvement. Higher education will have to consider education of all facets of the learning process with how hands on requirements, theoretical and group work can be accomplished. Using current materials from campus base to online may not transition well. Just by looking at the stages of education that could be accomplished at home includes pre-school, primary school, intermediate school, middle school, high school, trade school, junior college, college, and graduate college. This by no means is a small task.
Curriculum, materials and methodology are all components equally important to our students to achieve in a remote setting. This challenge will not be met in a short time. This should not come to no surprise to us who have revered the need for great education for our students at all ages. Moving education requirements and attendance to offsite may meet the action of being present but may not meet the auspices of opportunities and achievement required by a U.S. Department of Education or an accreditation organization. This presents the opportunity to strengthen what is needed, capture 21st century possibilities, and diminish what does not fit. After many years of observing, managing and teaching online we can’t expect how we did things in the campus classroom will work seamlessly over to online education.
It was not predictive to see how our education model would be abruptly changed due too accessibility. There is so much we will learn in the year 2020 about how to deliver learning opportunities to our citizens in the future.
My advice to all schools and colleges is to be cognizant of what a remote learning system is capable of providing. Be sure you don’t give up anything that existed in the campus face to face method. Today’s technology allows for small groups, large groups, individual participation, simulations, projects, chat lines, group chats, recording, video, PowerPoint, surveying, polling, reading software, syncing with social media, sharing, research, question and answer sessions, analytics and schedules for teacher led theory and practical labs.
Leadership in our schools and states need to review and take steps to formulate partnerships to produce outcomes that will encourage and sustain success like the past and set the goal to improve it. This reality of implementing remote actions will cross all lines from schools to business, to government and our day to day lives. Our adaption course in life will change us forever. Life will not return to what we saw as normal. There will be a new normal. Our future generations will inherit how well we do with this challenge. Americans have been in front of nation crisis before. Experts are on the job in all arenas of life. Education is and has always been an important ingredient of our free world.
I pray for all of you during this time of crisis. It is not business as usual but has become very personal. Your leadership makes a difference. We will win this war!