Around the world, schools and educational institutions have temporarily closed in an effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. These nationwide closures have affected 80% of the world’s student population, or 1.37 billion students and 60.2 million teachers globally.
Online learning allows K-12 schools and educators to continue learning and instruction in times of school closures. Getting children “back to school” and supporting learning during this time of health crisis also helps establish a sense of normalcy and routine for children and their parents.
With scenarios and circumstances surrounding this global pandemic evolving daily, school leaders now find themselves making quick decisions about online learning options. They must also move fast to get teachers, students, and parents up to speed with online learning technologies. As K-12 schools move forward at pace with online learning, here are some key considerations:
Organize your content and resources
Whether you’re starting your online learning strategy from scratch or have experience teaching online, being able to pull together and share resources and content is going to be important in these fast-moving times. Look for a learning management system (LMS) that allows you to centralize resources in one place so students are fully supported and can navigate their lesson content from home with confidence.
Ensure equal technology access for all
Online learning is an invaluable safety net, especially during extended school closure. But as educators, we need to acknowledge the importance of equal access. Not all students have access to the Internet or the latest technology. As some learners will have older devices or computers at home, make sure you are not over-focusing on apps that require the latest and greatest technology or operating system. Look for an LMS that offers a responsive web design and provides offline access to content. This means more learners can access materials from anywhere. Consider pulling together with other members of the educational community during these times of trouble to support each other with access to devices or the Internet.
Consider the role of parents in the at-home learning equation
Parents are also deeply affected by the COVID-19 crisis and are trying to navigate this new world. Many are trying to balance work (either from home or at their place of employment) with childcare responsibilities. Make sure you consider how much support parents can give to at-home learners and seek out solutions that make it as easy as possible for the entire family. Look for an LMS that makes it possible for teachers to centralize all materials in one place and streamline communications with parents.
Bring equality and accessibility to all learners
As you look at potential online learning platforms, consider whether they meet the needs of all learners. Not every student has the same ability or knowledge, and many require accommodations. Seek out a platform that is accessible and WCAG-compliant so students can access content with screen readers. Look for a vendor that supports universal design for learning and offers teachers differentiated instruction, so they can guide students to achieving mastery through competency-based learning.
Protect your students’ privacy and personal information with top-notch security
If you’re asking students to use online tools, make sure their data is protected. Look for a platform that is ISO27001- and ISO27018-certified. Ask if the vendor is part of the Cloud Security Alliance and supports GDPR, PIPEDA, and other privacy standards.
Incorporate variety into your lessons
Synchronous lessons, such as video conferences, are fantastic. However, it’s important to keep in mind that some households will have only one device and that children could be sharing. Having an online lesson plan that allows for asynchronous learning, physical activity breaks, and household chore schedules is also important.
How Brightspace helps teachers quickly adapt to online learning
The fast-changing circumstances surrounding the global pandemic have led to abrupt school closures. Teachers are being asked to quickly acclimate to online learning and be up and running with virtual classrooms with very little lead time. It is therefore essential that the chosen LMS offers teachers step-by-step guidance and tools for communicating and collaborating, organizing course materials, documenting student learning, and assessing and delivering feedback.
Here are some key questions to ask your vendor:
- Does your LMS make it easy for teachers to collaborate and communicate with students? For instance, can they add attachments and links to posts, create an assignment post, customize notifications, and lead classroom discussions?
- Can teachers use the LMS to easily organize their content and lessons? For instance, can they quickly add a new unit and lesson; add and upload new materials; reorder units, lessons, folders, and materials; and set release conditions so lesson content is “drip-fed” to students?
- Does your LMS have a portfolio where teachers and students can document their learning?
- Does your LMS streamline and simplify teachers’ ability to assess and provide feedback?
D2L and Brightspace are here to help you adapt to online learning during the COVID-19 crisis.
D2L is actively working to support the educational community by providing a robust, feature-rich learning-management platform as well as the training and other support required to help teachers and students navigate and adapt to this new world of online learning. Here are just a few of the ways we’re doing our part to ease the pressure on schools and teachers during this very challenging time:
- We offer worry-free technology with 99.9% uptime rate
- We can be easily scaled across schools, school districts, and more
- We’re the only learning-management platform designed for mobile
- We offer support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year
- We have hundreds of video tutorials designed to help administrators, instructors, and learners get the most out of the Brightspace platform and features
- We have a dedicated COVID-19 resource area with tools to help you plan, get up to speed, and navigate this crisis, and a team standing by to help
Need more? We’ve got your back
Whether your district is still investigating online learning platforms, you’re grappling with the learning realities brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, or you’re new to Brightspace and just getting started with online learning, we’re here to help. Download our Continuing Instruction During the COVID-19 Health Crisis whitepaper or contact our team at K12@D2L.com.