Liked Week 1 of Distance Learning (the édu flâneuse)

In this time of physical distance, our students and staff are keen for a sense of connectedness. We’re finding that video and audio are humanising distance learning for our students. This includes live video and audio meetings with groups of students, pre-recorded screen casts, and PowerPoints with audio or video.

Seeing teachers’ and peers’ faces and hearing their voices can help to bridge the isolation we all feel, and bring some of the connectivity and relationality missing when we are teaching and learning remotely.

Bookmarked 7 Lessons from deep in the inquiry trenches…

Who else is flexing their inquiry muscles right now? As we all rapidly transition to teaching online or trying to support our learners at a distance (not all kids around the world have access to internet and devices #justsaying) teachers everywhere are immersed in personal inquiry. I am no exception…

Kath Murdoch reflects on her personal inquiry into online learning. She structures her thoughts around seven things that she has noticed:

  1. I have a real need to inquire
  2. My learning journey is messy
  3. Skills and dispositions are my most important asset right now
  4. I don’t know what I don’t know
  5. I really wrestle with feeling incompetent and uncertain
  6. I don’t want to be talked at for too long
  7. I have welcomed being able to manage my time and learning at my own pace

One of the messages that stood out to me was the impact having skin in the game had on her learning:

Would I have a sustained interest and desire to learn about online facilitation had there been no real purpose for me? Probably not. Would I have fully engaged with this inquiry if some well-meaning ‘teacher’ told me I had to?  I doubt it. I am doing this because I can see the value and purpose in it.

I think that this is a great post to consider when working with staff or students as they grapple with the changing learning landscape. It is also interesting to consider this alongside David White’s wondering about engagement and learning narratives.

Bookmarked Visitors & Residents – teaching during Coronavirus (David White)

Fundamentally, one mode or tech is not ‘better’ than another. What is important is how we connect them as a learning narrative and how we communicate that narrative to foster engagement. This helps to ensure we provide opportunities which are mindful of the range of technical, geographical (time-zone), cognitive, social and emotional contexts/experiences of our students and teaching staff.

David White uses his vistor vs resident model to make sense of online learning and the challenge of engagement during such times when everybody is forced into different spaces. He explains that what matters is not the technology, but rather the learning narrative that surrounds this use. It was interesting reading this alongside Kath Murdoch’s personal inquiry into online learning.
Liked Does it Work? The Most Meaningless Question to Ask about Online Education (Education in the Age of Globalization)

Decades of research about online or distance education are unable to give a definitive answer to the question: does it work? The best answer one can get is “it depends.” It depends on how the program is delivered; it depends on what outcomes are measured; it depends on whose interests is considered; it depends on the content, the context, the design, the delivery, the technology, the instructor, the student, and many other factors.

Bookmarked “Doing School” In The Time of Coronavirus by Chris LehmannChris Lehmann (Practical Theory)

“What is the least bad thing we can do?” is, in some ways, a darker version of “What is the worst consequence of my best idea?” which is a concept we’ve used at SLA for years to make sure we stayed humble and never fell in love with an idea without examining unintended consequences or questioning who is privileged by it or what will go wrong, even if the overall concept goes right. “Least bad” is a recognition that whatever we do right now to move schools into an online version of themselves, it’s not the way we should do it under any normal circumstances, and what it becomes, then, is perhaps our own educational Hippocratic oath to remind us that so much of what we’re about to do is triage.

Chris Lehmann suggests that in the time of coronavirus our focus should be on the ‘least bad decision’. This includes teaching the child, remembering that online learning is not automatic, simplify assignments, rethinking assessments, doubling up on feedback and remembering the purpose of it all.
Bookmarked HEWN, No. 345

The question right now for educators should not be “what technology do I need to move my class online?” The question should be “what am I doing to support my students (and my colleagues and my family)?” Start there — not with tech but with compassion.

With so much discussion of the pivot to technology and learning at home, Audrey Watters suggests that our focus needs to be on care and compassion.
Bookmarked 5 ways to keep human connections when moving learning online due to coronavirus (The Conversation)

Here are five ways teachers, or other course or project leaders, can keep human connections and meaningful interactions in focus during the move online. As an educator and researcher who works with faculty and students to effectively integrate technology for learning, I’ve also used these guidelines in day-to-day decisions as our university moves to remote delivery.

Erika E. Smith shares five ways teachers can keep human connections and meaningful interactions in focus during the move online:

  • Simplify and be flexible
  • Don’t assume people have reliable technology access or understand particular digital platforms
  • Look for ways to build an online community
  • Don’t be afraid to crowdsource ideas
  • Keep the big picture in mind📑
Bookmarked The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to Alternative Assessment
Damian Gordon collates an extensive list of alternative assessment ideas. There has been a lot written about the tools to use in association with online learning, but less in regards to the various assessment practices.

Along with Bianca Hewes’ discussion of Project Based Learning and Pernille Ripp’s Choose Your Own Adventure, this guide is useful in helping us rethinking the options.

via Stephen Downes

Bookmarked Online schooling and distance ed? Don’t be afraid, we’ve been doing and improving it for 100 years (EduResearch Matters)

Importantly, having to do school online isn’t so much a revolution or cause for concern, it’s the everyday normal for thousands of children. The reaction to the closing schools brings into sharp focus the assumption that schooling is face-to-face when it is not for so many students in Australia. More so, it reminds us that rather than rural education constantly being framed as ‘disadvantaged’ it should in fact now be showcased as ‘world leading’.

This provides an opportunity to highlight a key equity issue beneath assumptions. Online learning can be as good as ‘real school’. It is for those communities, students and teachers for whom it is already their everyday reality.

Philip Roberts and Natalie Downes discuss some of lessons that can be learnt from years of distance education in light of the current transition to online learning. They found that there are five main types of relationships that we focus upon:

  • Learner to teacher relationship
  • Learner to learner (peer) relationships
  • Learner’s relationship to the content
  • Learner to system relationship
  • Learner to system relationship

For more reflections on distance education, Gill Light shares some of her own thoughts and experiences.

Replied to

Well said Joel. I think that now is the time for care and kindness, not more fear and self-doubt. Reminds me of
Pernille Ripp’s call to be ‘good enough
Replied to Good Enough by Pernille Ripp

That as schools plan for this remote/virtual/online learning that we are all expected to be able to do now, that we cannot for one moment think that it is going to be like school. That even if we invent amazing learning adventures to go on using online services, those websites may not be able to handle all of our traffic. That even if we provide devices and hotspots that doesn’t make our learning equitable. That we cannot ask our students to sit in front of screens for hours each day, trying to patch together what would have been the learning we would have done together. That we cannot expect our students to be in a healthy place for learning. That even if we send home work to do, it may not get done. And we need to be okay with that.

Thank you always for your honesty and openness Pernille. I feel that the most important thing to consider at the moment is care for self and others.
Bookmarked Tips and Tools for Improving your Remote Meetings and Presentations on a Budget (Aaron Parecki)

Lots of people are suddenly finding themselves working from home, and need to join video conferences from their living room or home office. Here are several tips to improve your virtual meetings and presentations on a budget! I’ll start with some things you can do for free to improve your Zoom meetings. If you’re recording virtual conference talks from home, or hosting live webinars, you’ll definitely want to upgrade to a nicer camera, so take a look at my recommendations for the best video kits under $500 and under $1000!

There has been a lot written about the various applications that allow you to connect online via video. However, Aaron Parecki addresses the various tools which can help improve the audio and visual quality of recordings.  The only thing I wonder if I would add to the list is a portable green screen to mask the background? I remember someone sharing a sleeve you could put on the back of your chair, not sure what impact all of that has on sound and lighting.

Bookmarked Tips for preparing student work during school closures – Oz Lit Teacher Narissa Leung
Narissa Leung discusses the need for reasonable, purposeful and sustainable learning for at home while schools are closed. She suggests planning one week work and reassessing from there. At the end of the first week to decide what to plan for the any subsequent weeks.

Teachers should assess the amount and quality of work completed by their students and use this knowledge to plan for subsequent weeks. You could make contact with students and parents to check in with the learning during the week and at the completion of the week as you see fit. Differentiation is going to be key in these uncertain times. Some students will want and need more academic focus, structure and work from us, others will want and need more emotional focus and support from us- in any way we can give it. (I despair for those kids who look forward to our hugs every day!) This will be the time to get creative and think right outside the well sanitized box!

Associated with this, Leung provides a number of things to consider, such as how you will deliver new content, expectations about your working hours and the need to be mindful that sometimes technology does not work.

Bookmarked Can we still do Project Based Learning at home? Yes we can! (Bianca Hewes)

I’m confident that collaborative learning will be able to continue effectively even if all students are isolated at home due to school closures. Why? Well, if schools are serious about project work, they will have created a culture in our schools where students and teachers value the work as reflecting that which is done in the non-school world (in industry projects, and in our personal lives like planning birthday parties). Despite many businesses already moving to working from home, many projects continue to move forward. I have no doubt that the project work already started at my school will continue when schools are finally closed.

Bianca Hewes explains how even with the disruptions of moving learning online that Project Based Learning can still continue. She provides some strategies that are already in place in her school which will support this:

  1. We have established and will maintain a structured approach to all projects.
  2. Online resources are organised according to our discover, create, share model.
  3. Our students care about the work they are doing, so they’ll keep doing it.
  4. Allocation of individual responsibilities within teams.
  5. Following the learning calendar already established at the beginning of the project.

One of my concerns with moving online is the fear that students will not have meaningful opportunities to engage with each other. I therefore wonder if team based learning is even more important in times of isolation.

In addition to Bianca and Lee’s work, Ross Cooper and Erin Murphy have shared a step-by-step guide to project based learning in a virtual world.


Claire Amos shares her succinct guidelines for moving learning online.
Replied to Pivot to Online: A Student Guide (Sean Michael Morris)

This is a time to work together. In all of the above suggestions where I’ve recommended that you reach out to teachers, that you insist on certain kinds of accommodations, the key is to be kind. Take me at my word here. I’ve worked directly and indirectly with faculty on six continents, and most of them will respond to kindness. If they know you are trying your best, they will also try their best. (Some of them are reading this right now, too.) Remember that faculty are human beings who have been caught just as much by surprise by this pivot to online as you have… only many of them are not as tech- or web-savvy as you are.