Christiansen Institute blog article written by Thomas Arnett
The Christiansen Institute is a respected research-based leader in Disruptive Innovation at all levels. In addition to a blog subscription, the Christiansen Institute offers free resources, research and other valuable tools for today’s ever-changing world. You can find more at: christenseninstitute.org
When I first read the headline from the Christensen Institute blog in September I was immediately intrigued. I have been considering the headline for a few weeks as I work with CA BOCES districts and teachers in my role as Distance Learning Coordinator. I also admit that I read the article with the lens of a working parent of a student who is learning at a distance 3 days a week this school year. I have had many conversations within my different roles over this article as I digest the contents of this blog.
No doubt distance learning has it challenges for our students, families, teachers and administrators. The list of challenges is great, but some of those challenges have been met or at least lessened since the start of this school year. Many districts have increased the availability of devices and internet access providing some relief for families and students in our most remote/rural areas. Three districts have created opportunities for fully remote elementary level students using a combination of an online content provider and digital resources from our Digital Media CoSer. In all three districts the students were provided school issued devices and have academic support from an assigned New York State certified teacher in the district. Two of the three districts have a similar arrangement for students in grades 6-12. These examples, in addition to the numerous students that are receiving online courses at the middle and secondary levels provide insight into how distance learning may be better for kids. They also show how distance learning is meeting the needs of the students and families that are restricted from face to face attendance at school, but still allow for developmentally appropriate academic content to be provided.
The article goes on to mention some of the benefits of fully remote learning that some, I hope many, students are experiencing. Among those benefits are, having families more involved in student learning. Having the time outside of school to explore more than is possible during a typical school day, like watching the stars at night, following up on assigned learning activities that the families are more aware of and can elaborate on. These examples, and more, coupled with the amazing adjustment teachers made to their face to face environments to make them more accessible and digital for remote learning have made distance learning better for students.
Providing access to learning when face to face isn’t an option is a workable alternative. Is it better for all students? Maybe, maybe not. At CA BOCES Distance Learning we have options for consideration that may make it better for students. I will leave it to you to answer the question, are kids are better off with distance learning?
By: Karen Insley, CA BOCES Learning Resources