Blog Series: Learning in the Age of COVID-19
In this series of blogs, we explore the complex ways the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our children’s education.
Part 1: Emergency Remote Instruction – what is it all about? And why should I worry about it?
When the WHO declared the global pandemic early in 2020, who could have predicted the tremendous impacts that would have on our daily lives? Some of us now work from home, others aren’t able to work at all – and our children have all needed to adapt to a very new way of learning, since classroom education was not possible. Canadian school boards had very little time to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, and many have implemented a form of Emergency Remote Instruction or ERI. Fundamentally, ERI involves shifting from in-class to an online format for learning, so that education can continue in the safety of the child’s home.
Unfortunately, while this sounds like a relatively straightforward approach – many school boards are experiencing real hurdles in adapting to ERI.
- Most students learn best in a well-structured environment in which information is organized in a clear and sequential way for students to “scaffold” learning. This has proven to be a huge challenge for most school boards who are using ERI. Teachers have been left to individually implement ERI, which has led to a lack of coordinated learning approaches. In addition, many classroom teachers have little or no experience with online learning tools and apps, which leads to a large disparity in how it is used. For example, Teacher A might implement a 1-hour Zoom lesson daily to present course material and answer questions ‘live’, while teacher B might only use a Moodle-type platform tool to post resources & lessons and exchange written feedback to students. In this type of environment, students will need to adapt their learning from teacher to teacher in this challenging dynamic – and this isn’t easy for them!
- In addition to a lack of consistency in how materials are presented to students – children themselves also differ in how they learn. Most students learn best at their own pace and when they have access to a variety resources to support their learning (i.e., video lesson replay, formative quizzes and tests, practice tests, forum). ERI has made this incredibly difficult to implement well for many school boards.
- Another key challenge of ERI is the limited monitoring of student learning through conversations with teachers, and limited tracking of student progress through the units and lessons. In some cases, it takes teachers several weeks to provide feedback on student performance.
- Finally, many ERI platforms have limited (or indeed no) streamlined solutions for assessing student learning through online summative evaluations.
In part 2 of this series, we’ll explore how structured online education platforms like ONSTUDY ACADEMY have already risen to the learning challenges that ERI is only experiencing now – so that students have all the tools they need to achieve academic success – especially in these challenging times.