By Seth O’Bryan, Director of Social and Environment Sustainability and Upper School Mathematics, at The Harley School in Rochester, NY.
Response to a reporter question regarding insights and predictions from educators,
about what K-12 virtual learning will look like in 2021 and beyond:
1. Blended learning teaching practices will increase, even when all students are back in the physical classroom. Blended learning is a mix of traditional direct instruction and flipped classroom (A flipped classroom is an instructional strategy and a type of blended learning, which aims to increase student engagement and learning by having students complete readings at their home and work on live problem-solving during class time). Teachers struggle with content coverage, and finding time for collaborative or inquiry-based projects that require students to be at the center of the knowledge creation. Blended learning seeks a balance of direct instruction in the classroom and, when appropriate, students watching instructional videos at home so that projects or collaborative activities can be done in the classroom with teacher mentorship. Due to remote learning, many teachers are now experienced at using screencasting tools as well as digital tools like EDpuzzle to make instructional videos more engaging and interactive. In the past, teachers often used class time to teach about basic building blocks, review material, or cover facts that students can just as easily learn at home on their own. Also, due to remote learning, teachers and students have increased appreciation for using class time to develop social emotional learning skills or incorporate more critical thinking work.
2. Educators are increasingly valuing equity and inclusion in the classroom. Teachers and students are learning more about collaborative or student-centered digital tools such as flipgrid, padlet, seesaw, and interactive whiteboards create significantly more opportunities for (1) multiple students to participate in class at the same time, (2) students to learn from each other, (3) students to engage in assignments with more creativity and authentic voice, and (4) shy or quiet students to participate in class.
Teachers have now learned about the digital tools and how to incorporate them into the classroom. Students are also familiar with how the tools work and can decide how to invest their voice and ideas into the medium that works best for them. These collaborative tools are helpful for making a classroom centered on equity because of the opportunities for students to construct knowledge together and less an imbalance of teacher expert/student passive learner. They also create space for students to explore how they can learn best in the classroom.