Teachers now find themselves forced to teach remotely in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The internet is full of ideas, resources, posts, and advice on what to do. Schools and districts are doing their best to provide direction for teachers, but advice varies. Teachers, parents, and students face uncertainty and challenge unimagined. Teacher training and professional development never envisioned this “new normal” and everyone is yearning for a quick fix.
Comprehensive training and experience are required to become effective at creating engaging online learning experiences for students. Online worksheets, content, and resources are only a beginning – structuring and supporting learners at a distance is a complex and dynamic enterprise. We are experiencing emergency remote teaching, not a “switch” to online learning (for a further discussion see this Educause post).
However, there are some steps teachers can take now to help them offer remote teaching and support for their students and parents. Stephen Downes offered some simple advice in a blog post about the current situation, suggesting that we need to focus on extending a sense of care to our students and then to begin building a community where we can work together to get through the learning challenges we face in this disrupted context.
It is not just sending students to online sites like Khan Academy and other well-known resource sites, or to rush students into an online course. Trying to find a complete list of resources or online courses will not provide us with a simple solution to a complex situation. Some provinces have provided recommended lists of resources (see links below), but that is just a starting point. We all know that good teachers remix, revise, and adapt materials to meet their students’ needs and use a variety of methods to communicate with students and parents. Accordingly, below are some curated sites, ideas, tips, tools, and posts to consider in that iterative process.
Please, First Consider…
Before you jump into the deep end please consider:
- Check with your colleagues about the technology they are using – common platform use will make life way more streamlined and simple for students and parents, and you will have a support network as well;
- Look for low-tech options as well – remember, it is about building connections, not barriers;
- See what Dr Tony Bates from Ontario’s Contact North has to say for those venturing into remote teaching for the first time: Advice to those about to teach online because of the corona-virus;
- Review Quality Matters Emergency Remote Instruction (ERI) Checklist – a tiered list of considerations, tips, and strategies to use during a move to remote instruction; and
- Finally, take a quick look at UNESCO’s recommendations for planning distance learning solutions and scroll down to the bottom for more ideas about transitioning to remote teaching.
A Final Privacy Caution
The COVID-19 pandemic is creating challenges for individuals, agencies and organizations alike, but in the rush to adopt new technology offered freely to help in the health crisis, many of us skip past the fine print of the privacy policies. As educators, we have an obligation to ensure the privacy of all students is protected. The international Human Rights Watch organization offers some good examples of privacy concerns globally in our rush into online tools. You might even want to consider getting parents and students involved in learning about online privacy. Canada’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner provides a lesson plan to help students understand their privacy rights, and a full set of teaching resources can be found here.
Always check with your school and district before adopting any new online tool, no matter how promising it may seem.
- Follow this advice from CoSN (Consortium for School Networking) on Video Conferencing Tools in the Age of Remote Learning: Privacy Considerations for New Technologies (PDF)
- The links to resources and tools below are only curated options. Please check with your local school and district/board for guidance on maintaining student privacy and tools appropriate for your own school network.
Selected Consolidated Resources
Common Sense Education
- Tools for educators during Coronavirus school day closures and their list of the top 18 tools
- Newly updated tools, strategies, templates, and resources updated here
- Just announced April 1, a brand-new, free online resource to support families and educators who are transitioning to remote learning as a result of the coronavirus: Wide Open School.
- Why? There are so many online resources to support kids’ educational, emotional, and physical development that Common Sense editors are noticing yet another challenge for parents and educators: How can you find high-quality resources quickly, easily, and in one place?
Kathleen Morris – Edublogger
- Resources for teaching online — lengthy, lots of ideas, updated daily
- A comprehensive list of virtual learning resources
Governing Organization Resources
- UNESCO list of resources and tools
- BC Keep Learning Website
- AB Learn Alberta Portal
- ON Learn at Home and Apprendre à la maison
- Deux sites de ressources éducatives en français et en anglais : https://ecoleouverte.ca/fr/ et https://ecoleouverte.ca/en/.
- Open School– an amalgamation of various free educational websites, where parents can teach their children everything from math and science to daily physical exercise
- See also Western Québec online resource backpack
- Determining video conferencing alternatives – bandwidth and immediacy chart
- Tools (most are free to use right now, but be sure to check privacy policies first)
- For a good list comparing the above tools, see ranking/rating here
- Teaching ideas for video conferencing from Catlin Tucker – 3 ways to use videoconferencing with students
Screencasting is becoming incredibly useful in explaining concepts and creating useful learning objects on the fly for use in online courses and even in classrooms.
- Steve Dotto at http://www.dottotech.com/ offers great ideas and support for using technologies.
- If using a PC we recommend Camtasia – for Mac Screenflow.
If you just want to dabble… Here are some simple, free tools to explore:
- ScreenCastify – a free Google Chrome plugin for screen recording – Mac or PC, tablet or phone (add it to Chrome here) – and you can edit the video in Google Drive (see help here)!
- Tips from Eric Curts – Screencastify (free to April 30)
- Screencast-O-Matic (free version) is a free program for PC or Mac
For a professional learning break…
- From Milwaukee with Kids (who knew?) – Copy this Google sheet and edit and add your own resources to share with parents
- From Bonnie Stewart, University of Windsor, reviews of some online teaching tools
- An interesting video series from Dave Cormier: Online Learning in a Hurry
- A project of the Office of Open Learning at uWindsor via @Downes
- Available as a YouTube playlist
- UNESCO coalition to accelerate remote learning solutions
- Will Shift to Remote Teaching Be Boon or Bane for Online Learning?
- OpEd from a variety of experts including Royal Roads’ George Veletsianos (scroll down)
- Digital Learning Collaborative — latest research and resources for online learning
- For some quick suggestions, check out a blog post by Melissa Bond, a PhD research student in London:
- A short summary of recommendations based on her synthesis of 107 journal articles, book chapters, conference papers, dissertations and grey literature, investigating how student engagement might be affected by using the flipped learning approach in K-12 schools
- The summary includes a quick analysis of what this means for educators, especially those who might be teaching remotely for the first time
For further exploration
- Check out the April 1 podcast on CBC’s The Current featuring three teachers from across Canada and Canadian researcher and State of the Nation author, Michael Barbour
- Post from Tony Bates on K-12 emergency remote teaching featuring BC’s Nick Smith
- 4 Ideas for Student-Led Learning During Emergency Remote Teaching – George Couros
- Randy LaBonte radio interview on Remote Teaching in the Pandemic (start at minute 2:00)
- Learning Continuity: Planning Considerations for School Leaders – PDF from MVLRI a comprehensive document with ideas for leaders and required supports for the system, students, and parents.
- 10 Fundamentals of Teaching Online for Faculty Instructors (from Contact North|Nord, authored by Dr. Tony Bates — post-sec, but a useful reference for K-12)
- Another one from George Couros on isolation and a student-centric, not homework-centric, approach is critical: “…we are all isolated across the entire world together.”
- From the EduBirdie Writing Platform: Top 40 Tools for Remote Teaching (some already posted above) https://edubirdie.com/blog/tools-for-remote-teaching
Zoom web conferencing platform and privacy:
- Changes have been made at Zoom to tighten its privacy settings and use of data — privacy features and user settings are explained in detail on this Zoom post
- BC Ministry of Education licensed Zoom for K-12 schools and addressed privacy to ensure compliance with B.C.’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA).