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The Coronavirus Educational Revolution


The Coronavirus is sending our schools on a sprint to prepare for the impact of COVID-19. We cannot avoid the arrival of this global pandemic, and so schools in the US and other parts of the world have been abruptly catapulted into the 21st century in an effort to keep school going virtually whether the entire school closes or whether a teacher is self-quarantined and need to teach from a distance. This might be the swift kick in the butt that K-12 public education needs to actually bring us into the 21st century. To be quite frank, it is totally possible to do this, technologically speaking. We have had these tools available to us for quite some time thanks to advances in the EdTech sector, and now everyone is paying attention.


Even without COVID-19, studies show [such as here, here, and here] that blended learning opportunities, such as the flipped classroom, have a much more powerful impact on learning than fully face-to-face or fully online, yet flipping the classroom is still considered a novel idea. I am hoping that if there is anything good coming out of coronavirus pandemic is that it is revolutionizing education towards blended and online learning. If we are really getting down to the nitty-gritty on this topic, isn't this what personalized learning is all about? Is that what we are aiming for here in Vermont? Anytime, anywhere learning where students navigate through parts at their own pace? Where they have access to engaging and novel tools? Where they would learn how to collaborate in online environments such as those they would encounter at college and the workforce? Where teachers are seen as facilitators of learning rather than the "sage on the stage"? Where students can self-evaluate and track their learning? As I write this, I am now wondering why we don't have more classes set up like this. I know of teachers who have flipped the classroom quite successfully yet that is not the norm, so why is that? I have my theories and they mainly come down to training and resources. If we are going to ask teachers to do this, then we have to provide them with professional development and technology to implement this properly. We simply cannot put a traditional face-to-face course online. If students thought that a traditional classroom was boring then imagine having to watch that traditional lesson on a video where the teacher isn't even in the room with you.



Now with the COVID-19 slowly creeping towards us, I have been watching schools and districts throughout the country implement distance learning, and we're next. I firmly believe in the motto, Prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and that's what I am doing by making this quick start guide for educators. This is a guide to get the conversation going, and I ask that you all be contributors. If you have a tool that should be added to a collection, please contact me at hello@ericazimmer.com. If you have a suggestion to be added to the guide, please contact me. This guide is not meant to replace intensive professional development, and courses on how to implement blended and online learning, that still needs to happen if you plan on doing this in the long run. This guide is simply meant to give educators a basic structure and tools to help them make the first steps towards putting their class in an online format. Check out the guide below: