Why Remote-Only Classes May Force A Reckoning On Education
By Neil A. Carousso
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Most K-12 students in the Tri-State Area will begin the school year with remote learning as part of the curriculum as teachers’ unions battle with local officials about reopening classrooms in the safest manner while parents face the tough decision of whether to ultimately send their children to school buildings and extracurricular activities in September. Students, teachers and schools will be forced to embrace online classes in the short-term, but it may take hold as the future of education in a system largely undisrupted in history.
“We can’t just cross this threshold at some point and go back to what people want to be the ‘old normal,'” said Alex Urrea, founder and managing partner of Eduscape, which trains educators and school leaders on implementing technology into the classroom.
Tools such as Microsoft Teams and Google for Education are affordable Learning Management Systems already on the market.
“The ‘new normal’ is going to be about how do we use this technology more effectively to reach kids that we should have been reaching better all along using technology,” explained Urrea on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight with Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso, sponsored by BNB Bank.
He pointed out the inequities in education, underscored by the pandemic, in the amount of options and resources available for families who have greater income. School serves as daycare for parents who need to work. So-called “learning pods” have become the new private tutoring phenomenon.
Some lower cost options have emerged as the private sector works on solutions. Camp Hazen YMCA in Chester, CT is pivoting from a summer camp to an online learning center for small groups of students in a socially-distanced outside space on its 150-acres of land.
“We’re kind of looking at it like a supervised study hall,” said Executive Director and CEO Denise Learned, adding, “We’re just there more for the technical side of it and helping ensure that kids are getting their work done.”
Urrea is now hosting webinars for parents who are setting up their own type of learning pods or home schooling, whether that’s full-time this year or a hybrid model with part-time in-person instruction. Eduscape has a webinar scheduled for Wednesday, August 26 titled “The Parent as a Remote Learning Aide.”
“Be familiar with the type of technology that the school is requiring them to use,” he advises parents. “Know what the kids need to have available to them to be better prepared to learn online and participate in class.”
Urrea told Connolly and Carousso parents should create a dedicated space for their children to do their school work so there are little to no distractions at home. Many parents who have been working from home can understand the need for quiet space or a home office to focus.
Teachers must adapt as well, he said, pointing to Eduscape’s 12-year record of encouraging more than 770,000 teachers and schools to embrace technology to improve the quality of education during the 7-hour school day.
“Don’t lecture,” Urrea emphasized. “Use the tools within the platforms that are available to you: virtual whiteboarding, the use of video in engaging students.”
He said it can be a positive inflection point for education, which largely has the same core structure through multiple generations. But, learning habits have changed over time.
“It’s how to use these resources to drive sound pedagogian instruction not just use technology for the sake of it, because it’s not effective,” he said.
Eduscape employs educators who have taught in a classroom for more than 10 years in their mission to rethink traditional education.
“We try and make good teachers better, struggling teachers good on their way to better and technology is just another part of their tool box to do that,” said Urrea.
Online classes have become more widely available to undergraduate and graduate students at colleges and universities in recent years, allowing students to manage their study time, jobs, and career advancement opportunities such as internships. Remote learning can be creatively executed, depending on the teachers’ skill sets. Some professors reluctant to change in years past, have now embraced teaching online after learning a platform as a health necessity for those vulnerable to COVID-19.
“There’s so much content that teachers have to get to,” said Urrea, continuing, “Maybe, now, homework can be an extension of the classroom with regular learning happening online after school when things go back to normal.”
Learn new ways to prepare for the school year with solutions for students, parents and teachers on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight Podcast on the RADIO.COM app or the media player above.