Just four months ago, schools across the globe shut down due to the pandemic and converted to 100% online instruction. Over 1.5 billion children had to continue their education through combinations of video conferencing, pre-recorded videos, and online assignments. Teachers scrambled to use technology, mostly intended for “in-person” classes, to teach virtually. Parents struggled, often playing the role of a teacher’s aide to help their children continue their learning. Schools reopening in the fall is becoming a large debate on how to keep everyone safe and ensure the academic and social-emotional integrity of instruction.
Teaching in the Time of Pandemic
The big question for addressing the sudden shift in delivering instruction was how content could be delivered in engaging, meaningful, and uncomplicated ways. Teachers filled the gaps through video conferencing and by posting their own instructional videos online. However, many students encountered screen fatigue as lecture formats dominated instruction and engaging with the content became a solo act of independent reading and activities. The level of support and resources students had for distance learning varied student to student, grade to grade, and school to school. It became difficult for teachers to get students to complete virtual assignments and properly assess their meeting of standards.
Uncertainties in the Fall
Summer brought a little bit of a reprieve, but with COVID-19 cases currently surging across the country, U.S. teachers are anticipating another unorthodox school year. Many are hopeful for the full reopening of schools with appropriate social distancing measures and are fearful of infection rates causing schools to be completely online. Yet, a growing likely scenario would be a hybrid format where students alternate attending school on different days of the week and learn at home when they aren’t at school.
However, any scenario that deviates from a full reopening is accompanied by concerns, especially regarding the strain on teachers. Class size reduction and social distancing measures can lead to teachers having to repeat the teaching of content multiple times, in person and virtually. District budgets already strained prior to the pandemic are now cut even further, and facing new demands with a potential need to hire more teachers,supplies, and staff to support disinfecting measures. Technology, already underfunded, is now in more demand than ever. The biggest concern is how all of this is going to impact student achievement.
Immersive Distance Learning Can Change the Game
A new educational technology offering that can fill many of the gaps inherent in distance learning is CurrikiStudio, a fully functional e-learning authoring tool. Completely FREE and open technology, CurrikiStudio allows teachers to translate their existing curriculum into engaging and interactive distance learning content without any coding knowledge. Teachers can easily create online courses consisting of playlists of the content of their choice. The content-authoring suite has tools to integrate over 40 interactive resource tools into the content including interactive videos and images, learning games, assessments, and much much more. Best of all, it supports a hybrid model of learning where teachers can’t be in two places at once, allowing meaningful self paced content to be delivered to their students at home.
Johnathan Brusco, Director of Instructional Technology of Pinewood School, says of CurrikiStudio, “The content delivery methods most closely mirror the self paced systems that will be most necessary in the Fall (and beyond). It helps to deliver a self paced learning model that is much needed in K-12. The self paced nature of the content means that it is very hands off for parents and caregivers. They don’t need to struggle as much with attempting to be the teacher at home. Teachers can customize interactive distance learning to meet standards and challenge students.”
The structure from interactive playlists allows for students to engage with the content versus simply reading or watching is particularly helpful with special needs students. Kelli Alessandro, a special education teacher in Methuen, Massachusetts, says daily schedules “assist the students and caregivers with pacing, planning, organization, and task completion, among other functional skills.” CurrikiStudio can be used to create daily playlists and modules with tasks to establish routine and structure.
Alleviates strain on instructional technology systems in districts
The CurrikiGo deployment tool allows content developed in CurrikiStudio to be deployed to students easily and for FREE on multiple platforms, web-based HTML, Google Classroom, and any learning management system. Also free, CurrikiGo minimizes budget and IT support demands on schools. Brusco shares, “Teachers and content creators can feel free to build materials without fear that they’ll have to leave them behind when systems switch, or they move on to new schools.”
Learn more about CurrikiStudio and CurrikiGo. For an in-depth look, Curriki Co-Founder Scott McNealy and Curriki CEO Keith Kostrzewski lead a discussion on immersive learning for today’s learners in the CurrikiOne webinar. You can request early access to CurrikiStudio for FREE. Through the Early Access Program, Curriki will train individuals and teams on the tools, assist with content creation, and collect feedback.