The abrupt, unexpected, and extensive school shutdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to rapidly assimilate and deploy online learning options for our students. Most initial efforts have focused on resources and tools that already had some traction in our classrooms, that we and our support staff were familiar with, and that we knew worked in face-to-face classroom settings.
We are quickly learning that the virtual classroom has different demands and that our current modes for online learning are leaving many behind, especially the most vulnerable.
For all students, the digital resources, executive functioning, and language skills required simply to access and work on assignments are proving to be critical hurdles to effective online learning. Our students, as well as the adults in their lives, typically need to navigate multiple websites, have dedicated devices available (yes, multiple), have access to the internet, be able to decode detailed written instruction and respond by text. This is difficult for successful students with support at home. It is exponentially harder for struggling students, resulting in significant digital truancy for lower quartile learners.
As our collective experience with mass online learning increases, the key features of successful solutions are emerging. Key elements of these include: limiting the number of digital tools deployed, and ensuring that they work together and with supporting technology; that they can address a wide range of content areas; that they can run on multiple device platforms, and that they safeguard the privacy of our students.
To find new solutions that address this challenge, I began to collaborate with a team of Educators and Scientists at Scoutlier. They have developed an all-in-one online learning solution to support learners across a wide range of instructional needs, from everyday engagement to deeper guided inquiry, to project-based learning. This solution works on any device on the web or through mobile apps and is compliant with the privacy guidelines of the Student Data Privacy Consortium.
Scoutlier can be deployed through all learning management systems and is fully integrated into Google Classroom. With it, teachers can transform and assign their existing curriculum and materials to work online, or borrow, edit and share effective online learning activities that their peers and expert content developers have created. Critically, students learn through a highly intuitive interface and can provide evidence of their learning in a wide range of formats, from video to audio, to images, to text and selections.
We are all overwhelmed by the demands placed on us at this time. And having to continually learn new resources is draining. However, we’re also identifying and helping create better teaching solutions for today and the future when hopefully we will be back in the classroom. My experience with Scoutlier has been that it is intuitive and there isn’t much to learn to get going. The growing user community also provides access to help and coaching. No matter the content area you teach, Scoutlier can be adapted to meet your curriculum needs.