The coronavirus outbreak has halted regular school days for the foreseeable future, pushing instruction to online learning environments as administrators work to ensure teachers and students have the devices and connectivity needed for continuity of learning.
In the Sewanhaka Central High School District, located on Long Island just outside of New York City, educators moved as quickly as they could to ensure as little interruption to learning as possible.
The district, which is home to five junior and senior high schools consisting of grades 7-12, was able to develop its online learning plan fairly quickly, thanks in part to an existing one-to-one take-home iPad program, which already had students using devices for classroom instruction.
“All students have had iPads for 2-4 years, and teachers have had them for 5 years,” says Brian Messinger, the district coordinator for Classroom Instructional Technology & Student Achievement. “All the systems and tools were there. Our district has invested heavily in professional learning and instructional for the last few years.”
Transitioning to remote environments, from a technical aspect, was relatively easy, and even educators who were reluctant to use technology in their physical classrooms have embraced it now, Messinger says.
How this district moved online with a moment's notice
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“Even if [teachers] were reluctant to use it, they already had the skills,” he says. “People are stepping up and trying new things. It’s messy every day and it’s not a substitute for direct learning, [but] we’re figuring it out, going slowly, and working with what’s comfortable for students.”
But there’s little room for reluctance in a global pandemic.
“When your entire job is trying to motivate people to use technology to transform teaching and learning, there’s always resistance,” Massinger says. “Right now, there’s no resistance. We’re doing this because it’s the best option now for continuity of learning.”