To meet state and national requirements (and receive critical funding), schools must be open a minimum number of days each year. When dramatic weather hits — be it snow or violent storms or another emergency — it becomes impossible to reach the classroom. That means lesson plans aren’t completed, assessments aren’t taken, and kids don’t learn. There used to be no alternative but more and more, schools are using technology to keep the learning going. For example, Wabash County issues all students MacBook Airs and iPads (your school could use Chromebooks) that are available to students who can’t get to school:
All Wabash County students in grades 3 through 12 have a MacBook Air they take home every day. For snow days, K2 students can bring home the iPads they use at school.
Pascack Valley Regional High School District in northern New Jersey makes available lesson plans and assignments that can be accessed from home, on the Internet:
Before the snow fell, teachers were prepped, parents were warned and students had received enough assignments to fill a snow day.
These Districts make education-related emergencies easier on all stakeholders by using tools that are simple to roll out and intuitive to use — in some cases, already implemented in daily classrooms.
If your school is looking for virtual teaching tools, you’ll want to consider two options: 1) a virtual meeting room that closely replicates the traditional class where students see both teacher and classmates and have access to whatever is normally shown on the class screen; and/or 2) virtual access to lesson plans, resources, assessments, and chats usually available in a schoolroom.
Here are seven options that satisfy these requirements. The first four are virtual meeting programs while the last three are robust Learning Management Systems that include everything required to run an online class:
Anyone who attends online classes or any sort of remote learning knows it’s different from traditional classes. To thrive in this environment requires a mindset that appreciates the pros and adapts to the challenges. The folks over at San Diego Virtual School (SDVS) have put together a list of quick productivity tips on how to excel in this increasingly-popular learning environment:
Remote Learning Productivity Tips
Studying and working from home will share a lot of overlap when it comes to staying productive. It’s a completely different environment than being in a traditional school and it will require a much different (and stronger) level of discipline to stay successful in your studies.
So what can you do to stay on top of your lessons and ensure that you’ll be productive throughout your years of education when going remote?
Use a Clean and Organized Study Space
Studying remotely means you get to customize your study space in any way you want. It’s important to have a space that you’re comfortable in, but you also want it to be as clean, organized and clutter-free as possible. This helps keep your mind clear, and allows you to avoid unwanted distractions.
If at all possible, try not to have anything on your desk that isn’t related to your studies.
I first considered this topic at a presentation I attended through WordCamp Orange County 2014. I had several trips coming up and decided to see how I addressed issues of being away from my writing hub. Usually, that’s when I realize I can’t do/find something and say, “If only…”
I am finally back from three conferences and a busy visit from my son–all of which challenged me to take care of business on the road and on the fly.
Truth is, life often interferes with work. Vacations, conferences, PD–all these take us away from our primary functions and the environment where we are most comfortable delivering our best work. I first thought about this when I read an article by a technical subject teacher(math, I think) pulled away from his class for a conference. Often in science/math/IT/foreign languages, subs aren’t as capable (not their fault; I’d capitulate if you stuck me in a Latin language class). He set up a video with links for classwork and a realtime feed where he could be available and check in on the class. As a result, students–and the sub–barely missed him. Another example of teaching remotely dealt with schools this past winter struggling with the unusually high number of snow days. So many, in fact, that they were either going to have to extend the school year or lose funding. Their solution: Have teachers deliver content from their homes to student homes via a set-up like Google Hangouts (but one that takes more than 10-15 participants at a time).
All it took to get these systems in place was a problem that required a solution and flexible risk-taking stakeholders who came up with answers.
Why can’t I work from the road? In fact, I watched a fascinating presentation from Wandering Jon at the Word Camp Orange County 2014 where he shared how he does exactly that. John designs websites and solves IT problems from wherever he happens to be that day–a beach in Thailand, the mountains in Tibet or his own backyard. Where he is no longer impacts the way he delivers on workplace promises.
Here’s what I came up with that I either currently use or am going to arrange: