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By Janet Pinto, CAO, Curriki

With schools shifting to online instruction, educators are now concerned that they will encounter an amplified version of learning loss as schools reopen this fall. Closures and limited activity severely limit experiences in non-instructional settings. A typical summer can lead to students being one month off track from learning goals. If you count disparities in learning from when remote instruction commenced in the spring, consider this potential for at least five months of learning loss. For students who are economically disadvantaged and have not had the technology resources and adult support to thrive with at home learning, the learning deficits are potentially even more significant.

The immediate impacts are disheartening. The UNICEF-UNESCO-World Bank survey on national education responses to COVID-19 school closures shows that despite valiant efforts of schools embracing online learning and actions towards remote remediation, only half of all students are effectively reached. Student retention is just as grave. A recent study from Northwest Evaluation Association, suggests that returning students will exhibit  roughly 30% of learning loss in reading and 50% in math. Research also indicates that students currently in school stand to lose $10 trillion in labor earnings over their adult life as a direct result of temporary school closures and delays.

Educators are challenged to prevent disparities in the quality of instruction that is delivered starting in the fall if they are not in a face-to-face school setting. With online or hybrid instructional models being unchartered territory for most schools, the outcomes of this new transition are unknown. School districts have had to accelerate decisions on funding, school reopenings, and the best measures to teach students that address individualized learning needs during this unprecedented pandemic.  At the recent 2020 Governor’s Summit on Innovative Education in North Dakota, Curriki Co-Founder Scott McNealy said, “What COVID has done is accelerated 10 years of innovation into three months.”

Blended Learning and Personalized Learning

The principal strategy to address learning loss as students return is to identify where students stand with the content and standards, then develop individualized learning plans to focus on learning goals. Differentiation is going to take on a new form to address learning loss. Blended learning is the solution for getting students to overcome their individual deficits. Asynchronous engagement coupled with technology-mediated instruction has shown to lead to greater student achievement. Research from the National Center for Education Statistics indicate that blended learning models with online offerings focused on differentiation led to significant academic gains, particularly in math. The spring school closures provided it is critical to focus on individual student competencies and mastery. Moreover, research on student engagement consistently finds that the teacher is at the center of influencing engagement in online learning environments. This includes varying communication tools and feedback. 

The Way Forward

There needs to be options to empower educators to meet this era of remote learning. Curriki wants to provide a solution to support that digital transformation of instruction is the way forward in education. “Nothing is more important than getting our kids excited about engaging in a quality educational experience and giving educators the tools to meet this need, especially given the likelihood of long term remote/hybrid learning situations,” commented Scott McNealy, Curriki Co-founder and Board Member. CurrikiStudio is an open-authoring tool that gives educators the creative power to optimize their online learning. Aimed to take blended learning to the next level, CurrikiStudio offers the ability to deliver differentiated learning plans utilizing student choice and self-directed learning. Over 50 learning interactions can be integrated into online lessons and structured into playlists similar to what students encounter when they are scouring for their next favorite song on digital music service providers or finding their next binge-worthy show on on-demand streaming networks.

“We want to support how you take the wonderful assets that you’ve built that have been effective in your classroom, and now make them more accessible to learners in a self-paced, mobile, digital format.” -Keith Kostrzewski, Curriki CEO

In an online environment, the pace of instruction is no longer directed by the lowest common denominator of understanding in the classroom. Teachers can use CurrikiStudio to have students explore their learning at their own pace and at their own interest-based choices. One of the learning interactions offered in CurrikiStudio, Branching Scenario, allows for teachers to provide a variety of rich interactive content and learning paths for students. This math differentiation example in understanding ratios shows how teachers can use the Branching Scenario to explore multiple interactive options, from remediation to enrichment, to achieve mastery.

No More “Sage on the Stage” Videos

In the spring, many teachers resorted to recording their direct instruction and posting videos as part of their online learning delivery. With the Interactive Video feature in CurrikiStudio, teachers can create “pauses and stops” within their videos for students to engage. This includes questions, dialog cards, vocabulary prompts, images, and more. In this math blended learning example, the teacher has implemented pauses in the video where students can click to reveal new resources and content as well as answer questions. 

Teachers Are Still the Creative Force In A Digital Classroom

Online and blended learning is not a temporary blip in the history of education. It is where education is headed and the pandemic is accelerating schools to get there now. Because it is an authoring-tool, CurrikiStudio provides the means to get to where digital instruction should be. At  the CurrikiOne July 30 webinar on Publishing Interactive Content with CurrikiGo, Curriki CEO Keith Kostrzewski said, “We are here to help you activate the existing assets you have created that may have been more static in the past.” Teachers are still the creative force in their instruction.  Kostrzewski adds, “More importantly, we want to support how you take the wonderful assets that you’ve built that have been effective in your classroom, and now make them more accessible to learners in a self-paced, mobile, digital format.” The idea with remote learning should not be to simply translate the incredible instruction teachers do in the face-to-face setting to a digital format, but to elevate it in ways they never could imagine.

Next Steps

It is free to sign up for CurrikiStudio. You can get demo access here. One you receive your login, you can get started creating playlists and interactive learning for students. Use the new Help Center for tips on how to get started, descriptions of the 40+ learning types, and steps for publishing to the learning management system used by your institution including Google Classroom, Moodle, and Canvas.

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