Learning from Home: How IT Supports K-12 Students Outside the Classroom
COVID-19 severely disrupted the 2020 school year; forcing teachers to throw together online lessons, parents to become surrogate teachers, and students to lose the structure of a traditional classroom. Moving forward, how will education change?
In this blog, we discuss how your IT team can best support teachers, parents, and students in the new reality of distance learning.
How IT teams can help teachers:
For some educators, this might be their first time ever using digital teaching tools. They’ll need training and guidance on how to upload homework, schedule video “classrooms”, record online lectures, etc.
Your IT team can help teachers adjust to distance learning by:
Create video tutorials/webinar walkthroughs on a few of the most useful programs (Zoom, Google Classroom, TedEd).
Set up a virtual help desk where tech-savvy teachers can share advice and discuss challenges with those that are less tech inclined.
Curate a list of frequently asked questions and provide links to professional development resources.
How IT teams can help parents:
COVID-19 has no doubt been a stressful time for parents. Besides their paying job, they now must provide a somewhat consistent education, using online tools that they may have never seen before.
Your IT team can help parents adjust to distance learning by:
Build a website (or pages within your school site) with specific info about digital tools for each grade level, FAQs, and video tutorials.
Set up a ticketing system and hotline so your IT team can provide remote troubleshooting and remote device control.
Send regular updates! Use technology to encourage open communication and the sharing of resources between schools and parents.
How IT Teams can help students:
Unfortunately, a significant number of students in the U.S. do not have internet access or devices to learn from home. “The most recent data shows that about 14 percent of our current K–12 population doesn’t have connectivity at home; that’s about 7 million students.” As districts increase technology use, you may have to prep and distribute devices.
Your IT team can help students adjust to distance learning by:
Lend students district-owned devices, set up mobile WiFi hotspots in public areas (school parking lot, school buses), or deliver free hotspots/Chromebooks to homes.
Tighten security measures – reinforce email safety tips, monitor student data, use content filtering on devices, and provide a pre-approved list of online resources.
Be available to collect, repair, and hand out devices as needed.
Cameron Hathaway, an IT Tech Support Specialist for St. Joseph Public Schools, says, “The biggest project during quarantine was repairing. Kids tend to break their devices, so they drop them off at the school and we give them a replacement Chromebook. Additionally, we had about 30 kids that did not have internet at home. We were able to provide mobile WiFi hotspots for them.”
Distance learning doesn’t have to be difficult. Get creative with technology and most importantly – set realistic expectations. Teachers, parents, and students will need some time to adapt to the change, but your IT team can deliver solutions to support them along the way.