The eSchool Media K-12 Hero Awards, sponsored by Trox, highlights inspiring examples of education during the COVID-19 pandemic

SDUSD’s “First Responders” sustained authentic learning during COVID

The eSchool Media K-12 Hero Awards, sponsored by Trox, highlights inspiring examples of education during the COVID-19 pandemic

From showing teachers how innovative technology could help improve learning outcomes to ramping up workshops geared toward preparing educators to teach online, this small but mighty team of six went above and beyond to make an impact during unprecedented times.

In late February 2020, SDUSD’s Instructional Technology team provided district leadership with a plan for curating enrichment activities for students to complete in the event students would be sent home. By March 6, the team had curated standards-aligned curriculum for students to access from home.

In March, the team developed a public-facing website and curated more than 200 lessons for students to engage in at home. Later that month, the team began an extensive professional development initiative. During this time, the team set a clear vision for distance learning. Teacher volunteers were recruited to lead courses and develop workshops. Timing was crucial: The team aimed–and succeeded in–training more than 5,000 educators prior to April 27, the first day in which the entire district moved to remote learning. From April 27 through May 28, the Instructional Technology team continued to offer workshops and online office hours to support educators with distance learning needs. For several weeks, the Instructional Technology team trained up to 1,000 teachers a day.

In addition, SDUSD has relied on Trox, a leading edtech provider, to help it roll out nearly 2,000 Boxlight boards, documentary cameras, and webcams in its classrooms throughout the past year, which helped educators who preferred to teach from their classroom. When the district moved to simulcasting learning in April 2021, that technology made a huge difference in helping teachers remain connected to their students, whether they are on or off campus, according to Julie Garcia, SDUSD’s Director of Instructional Technology. Going forward, professional development to help inspire teachers to use new hardware and software tools will continue to be a priority in any learning environment.

“Now more than ever, it’s important to help our students become good digital citizens,” Garcia added. “Technology should be front and center as we use what we learned during the pandemic to support students, track progress, facilitate collaboration and ensure students are engaged in authentic learning.”

Laura Ascione

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