In online education, educators learn as they go
School districts in the United States weren’t ready for online learning when the coronavirus health crisis hit – and it affected students.
Research on test scores over the past year suggests that student learning has slowed. A to study by the Center for Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) reported school closures and the move to from a distance learning as likely reasons for the problem.
Lawmakers and parents have said returning to face-to-face classes is important this school year. But education experts say online courses are here to stay, and students need to know how to learn online to prepare for college and the job market.
Christine Pitts is an education expert at CRPE. She said it is difficult to judge the effectiveness of distance learning last year. Many school districts had to quickly switch classes remotely during the health crisis and were unprepared.
“We know that virtual learning is not going to go away in a post-COVID world, âPitts said. “But we also know that it can’t be the same as emergency learning.”
Pitts said there was little research on how to structure online courses. She said few education researchers have looked at K-12 online teaching methods.e school level.
“Not having this evidence makes it very difficult for systems managers, teachers, superintendents to make those decisions about how to design distance learning in the future, âPitts said.
Educators have researched how to structure online learning.
For example, research suggest that children learn best when they can move around physically. Online courses could support this type of behavior by asking students to take walks or do activities away from the computer, argued Katie Taylor in the post The conversation. She is a professor of learning sciences and human development at the University of Washington.
Learning the best online teaching methods took some time, said Judy Perez. She is an educator with 20 years experience in Kindergarten to 12 online educatione school level. She is also the head of iLearn Collaborative in Colorado. It is a non-profit organization that trains teachers in online teaching methods.
Colorado passed a law in 2007 that extended both online and hybrid courses in the state. Hybrid courses combine online and in-person instruction.
Perez started teaching virtual education in 2001 when âwe didn’t know what we were doing. We were just trying to determine, how do we teach in this space? “
But over time, she and other experts were able to develop training methods and measure student performance in online classes.
Last year, Perez said many teachers in the districts she worked with before the pandemic were surprised. They found they were able to quickly switch from in-person to virtual learning when the pandemic began. She said, however, that student learning was affected by the quality of a teacher’s training in online teaching.
âI think you would see a difference in student learningâ¦ depending on how well the teachers are trained and who just jumped into that environment,â Perez said.
Taking a lesson intended for the class and just moving it online doesn’t work, she said. Teachers need to be able to use the online environment and computer technology to maintain the interest of their students. They also need to build relationships with their students, said Jill Pelligrini. She also trains teachers for iLearn Collaborative.
âWhat we have done with our training is really to concentrate on this student commitment“said Pellegrini.” How do you build community? How do you build relationships? “
Pitts said children who learn at home have made parents more involved in their child’s schooling. It has become easier for parents to see what their children are learning and how they are progressing. They can ask teachers questions about what is being learned.
It’s something ‘that we want to pull forward in any distance learning. occursâin the future,â Pitts said.
Perez said all students should have some experience with online learning. Those who don’t will have a harder time going to college or enrolling in workforce training programs that use online education, she said.
Perez added that she does not recommend fully online tuition. But she said hybrid courses might be better for students requiring special attention, such as athletes and people with disabilities or with health concerns.
Pitts noted that there is little research on how to teach virtual classrooms, which classes are easier or harder to teach online, or what types of students are best for it.
“It’s so little studied type education, âshe said.
I am Dan Novak.
Dan Novak wrote this for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.
Words in this story
district -not. an area established by a government for official government business
from a distance – adj. done remotely; far from a place
Superintendent -not. a person who directs or manages a place, a service, an organization
determine âV. (Phrasal) understand or find something by thinking
optimal – adj. the best; the most efficient way
to concentrate âV. draw attention to something
virtual – adj. existing or occurring on computers or the Internet
commitment – nm the act or state of being involved in something
happen âV. take place; happen
type -not. kind of something