Which Learning Model Will Schools Choose This Fall?

The present academic year has just kicked off, working in a way nobody would have ever imagined some months before, looks like a challenging academic year. Even though many schools have already started, in different degrees, to restart organizations and soften lockdown limitations, there is still a big uncertainty as to what the upcoming of education holds this fall.

A new guide published in New America (2020), proposed 4 scenarios for how school will look like the next academic year, taking on account the actualized understanding of the coronavirus and health professionals´ advice for reopenings.

For beginners, the authors of the new guide say that there is no reason to believe that the academic year will be the way we knew it before. Actually, the authors and New Americas' Learning and Tech team, barely considered a return to prior education arrangements in their predictions.

One of the reasons for this to be true is because the Center for Disease Control and Prevention currently published guidance telling schools to hold back from reopening until they have enough resources to cover staff and students for coronavirus symptoms or exposure to anybody with symptoms.

The 4 scenarios described in the New America guide are projected on the idea that online learning will, in a way, be implemented into every school´s plans for the next year.

What has happened during the last three months, in the authors opinion is a “crisis online learning”, derived by restrictions on movement and quarantine orders since March. In the author's words, “The scale of crisis online learning scoped from “drive-by” course material pickups to random online lesson plans to telephone check ins”.

The guide suggests that teachers should use their vacation to relax and catch a deep breath, and rethink how they should deal with online learning the following weeks. Administrators should pay close attention and invest in their staff, making sure that everybody is understanding the situation and creating a flowing plan for changing from face to face teaching to distance learning in the event of a coronavirus spread during the academic year. Vacation is also a chance for teachers to better the quality of their distance instruction.

The following paragraphs are summaries of the 4 learning scenarios the authors described. According to them, “there is no perfect solution. Depends on the whole context of each district”.

1. From Online Learning To Face To Face Learning

In this scenario, the academic world will continue with distance learning in the first months, controlling health benchmarks and maintaining conversation with local health workers and the government to decide when is the best time to return to face to face learning.

Before the academic year starts, educators will have specific training in online learning. The school subjects will be taught online for the entire academic year. Any possibility of re-opening will give priority to advising and building relationships.

2. From Face To Face Learning To Online Learning

The academic world will start the school year with “normal”, face to face classes, but will have a protocol for a new wave of coronavirus cases that origins the academic community to shift little by little to online learning.

Before the academic year starts, educators will have specific training in distance learning and will be prepared to transition their face to face teaching to online instructions. The chance of a new outbreak is high so personnel will need to act fast.

3. Distance Learning

The academic world will give all directions, support and programming services in a remote way to be able to secure the health and safety of teachers and students.

Before the academic year starts, educators will need a minimum of 80 extra hours of professional development to be ready for a complete year of distance learning. The technological groundwork must be secured and scaled and technologies used for communication must be used to students' full advantage for high and middle schoolers, because in younger students a parent should be present, which can generate difficulties for working adults.

4. Blended Learning

The academic world will provide a hybrid learning habitat, where both in-person instruction and distance instruction are offered in an accordant and fluid schedule round the year.

Before the academic year starts, educators will have a specific training in blended learning. Each school will pick one of the various blended learning versions. One of the options would be to offer face to face classes one day a week and distance learning the rest of the days.

Students who need more supervisión and help, probably need to take part in face to face classes more often than other students. In this case, by asking the school to use face to face and online learning at the same time, would make the community prepared to face a coronavirus outbreak, because it could rapidly change to full time distance learning.

For more information check out the EdTick article When Practising Social Distancing, How Should An Ideal Classroom Look Like?

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