Students deserve great learning experiences, no matter where they take place.
If this past year has taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected. I bet you could list three things that happened this year that surprised you… maybe one was that most students had to learn remotely at one time or another. Depending on where you are, this can mean different things. My children went fully remote for 2 months and then attended in-person for ½ days the remainder of the school year. They loved the ½ days because they got to eat lunch at home; who would have thought that the quality of lunch could drive the success of the approach?
It is safe to say that lunch isn’t the only thing that made learning a success or a struggle over the past year. There are so many factors in the equation for students, including how teachers approached learning, the content that was used, the group of students they were paired with, and even the mindset of those at home.
Through it all, it became apparent that we need to be prepared to educate students no matter what is happening around them. We need teaching strategies, resources, and structures that give students learning experiences that are powerful, keep them engaged, and ensure they learn what they need to know to be successful.
Let’s focus for a moment on instructional resources. What have you noticed about your students' resources over the past year? I noticed that some work very well no matter what the situation is, while others don’t work as well. So what makes a learning resource flexible? The ability to use it at home or at school, with or without a teacher. However, flexibility isn’t the only important factor. I saw my children doing a lot of worksheets at home. These are very flexible and can be done anywhere with a pencil, but weren’t supportive, memorable, or engaging. We need to develop a more expansive rubric to evaluate our resources for today’s and tomorrow’s educational experiences.
We have a choice. We can either try to find engaging, high quality and flexible resources that fit every possible use case, or we can ensure we have resources that work well for the given situation: in school or out of school, collaborative learning or independent learning. We recently did a project with the Texas Education Agency that took our collaborative classroom resources and made them applicable for a remote learning experience. That took real expertise, specific guidance, and lots of editing to get it right.
Overall, we have to be a bit omniscient as we pick our resources. We can start with what we know are great learning resources, then identify the ways that they can be used effectively, and then work to adapt them to different models. Or we might realize their limitations and decide to choose other more targeted resources for each learning model. The important element is to ensure that we don’t forgo quality for any of these learning models. Students deserve great learning experiences whether they are sitting in our classrooms or at their kitchen table.
Peter is an educator with over 20 years of strategy, education and product development experience. He led the redesign of a university, built new educational programs, designed content and taught middle school. At Carnegie Learning, Peter shapes our organizational and product strategy and ensures that we continue to develop leading-edge products and services that help all students learn.Explore more related to this author
We need teaching strategies, resources, and structures that give students learning experiences that are powerful, keep them engaged, and ensure they learn what they need to know to be successful.
Peter LaCasse, Chief Strategy Officer, Carnegie Learning