Editor's Note

Resources for Remote Learning

As I write this, every school in the United States is closed to classroom instruction. Many states have given up entirely on bringing students back this academic year. At least one state (Washington) is now warning its schools to prepare for closures that will potentially last into the fall of the 2020-2021 academic year.

We’re in this for the foreseeable future.

Remote learning is the order of the day. But approaches to remote learning vary widely. In some cases, teachers are in their living rooms delivering instruction on their 2000s-era webcams. In others, they’re in school broadcast facilities using high-end AV gear. In all cases, student learning isn’t what it once was.

Think of what students are lacking and how uneven learning must be right now as students take classes remotely (or, in some cases, merely work on packets their schools sent home with them when schools were still treating this COVID-19 situation like a snow day or extended spring break).

In classrooms, every component is designed to enhance learning. Flooring, ceilings, walls and digital equipment were tuned to assist with listening. Windows and lighting fixtures were designed to support learning by creating environments in which students could take in the material more readily. HVAC and filtration systems created environments that promoted comfort and well-being.

What do students have now? We don’t really know beyond two simple facts: They don’t have a classroom, and the quality of their at-home environments varies from student to student, from extremely luxurious to extremely impoverished — in terms of technology level, network quality, audio quality, lighting, comfort, personalized support, cleanliness, health/nutrition and even safety (violence, abuse).

All of these raise critical equity flags.

Now more than ever education institutions are in desperate need of support to attempt to bring a higher quality of learning to students locked out of their classrooms for the duration.

Many resources are available for that, including our sites spaces4learning.com, thejournal.com and campustechnology.com. (Check out out listing of hundreds of free resources for schools here: https://tinyurl.com/w4777pc.) However, many are no longer viable for now. Conventions, conferences, summits, in-person demonstrations — essentially all hands-on resources are gone at least until the fall.

We’re also offering resources to replace in-person events.

We have several upcoming webcasts and virtual summits, including two new one-day virtual summits on distance learning in early May, one for K–12 and one for higher ed. And at this very moment we’re organizing our first “DemoCast” May 6, which will be a unique opportunity for school, college and university staff and faculty to get as hands-on as you can get right now with products designed to support education through this crisis.

Hopefully working together, with resources like these, we’ll be able to make this situation a little better for those who are being impacted the most — the 56.6 million students displaced by the COVID-19 crisis.

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2020 issue of Spaces4Learning.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidrnagel/ .

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