We couldn’t be more proud of our passionate crew of Kami Heroes right now. All over the world, they are tirelessly helping their colleagues, friends and, of course, their students come to terms with the handbrake turn in educational strategy—namely moving to remote learning as fast as possible! Here are their experiences, tips, and tricks from the journey so far:
😱 How are you going to solve your #remotelearning challenges… do you even know what they are yet?
— Kami (@usekamiapp) March 13, 2020
The main challenges of remote learning
The move to remote learning has been dramatic for many across the world. The challenges facing our educators have ranged from simply not knowing how to get started in sometimes impossibly tight timelines, to growing pains for what looks to become an at least medium-term situation.
Here are some of the key challenges that our Kami Heroes have faced and where they have been directing their energies:
The disparity in internet access and technology continues to be a significant barrier to successful remote learning. Online learning provides many exciting avenues to educational access and contact between teachers and students, but with one important qualified—all students have a reliable connection.
As Kami Hero Dana Daughety, Instructional Computer Specialist at Beauregard Parish School Board, explains, “Many of our students live in rural areas that don’t have reliable internet service”.
— Kami (@usekamiapp) March 31, 2020
Districts and educators are now grappling with the practical issues of connecting students, alongside the ethical question of whether it’s right to engage with some students online if not everyone has access.
Is there a solution?
Digital equity is a thorny problem and not likely to be fixed overnight. That being said, many of our Kami Heroes are seeing administrators engage funding and expertise to try and provide all students with both an internet connection and devices. Asynchronous tools also provide an interim for students who have limited internet access or can travel to wifi at least once a day. In the worst-case scenarios where any online connection is completely impossible some have been simply delivering worksheets to students who don’t have internet access.
Student wellbeing comes first
In a lockdown, it is even more apparent that learning is only part of what schools offer students. Faced with a totally new way of being educated, and separated from friends, role models, and welfare resources, student wellbeing is one of our Kami Heroes top priorities during remote learning.
For Betzabé Orenos in Guatemala, the younger age groups are most concerning: “Our little ones mostly have parents still at work and they will be left at home with their nannies … we are uncertain of how effective our preschool online learning plan will be [without full-time support].”
Here are our top suggestions:https://t.co/1EoOVjRJz6
— Kami (@usekamiapp) March 29, 2020
For Jeanne Norse’s district, the stakes are even higher. “Our district’s main focus is student safety and meals first. We came up with a daily plan for student meals first, only then could we focus on providing learning tools.”
Is there a solution?
Our Kami Heroes are absolutely right, wellbeing always comes first. Focus on what the school administration at large can do to solve basic safety and wellbeing problems. These are essential, work comes later. As an individual educator, checking-in regularly with students and discovering their needs is also helpful.
Staff overwhelmed by online learning
We are so lucky that we live in a time where remote learning is even possible, let alone as dynamic and robust as it is. But that doesn’t make it any less daunting. Taking whole classrooms, and the schools that surround them, online is understandably creating challenges from strategic implementation to learning new tools and adapting everyone to new norms.
Our Kami Heroes are right at the forefront of this transformation, providing technical advice, strategic direction and helping colleagues get up and running with online tools. But it’s a tough job.
“My personal biggest challenge is convincing colleagues we can go online without being a full-blown virtual school” reports Charlie Eaton.
— Kami (@usekamiapp) March 18, 2020
In her position as Technology Facilitator, Arielle Goldstein is spending her time setting the norms of online learning for teachers and students. For her, the challenge lies in “Getting teachers comfortable with taking risks and trying something new. Letting them know it is okay to fail, this is the time to try something, and supporting them through it.”
Is there a solution?
This is a learning process and it won’t all come together at once. Keep planning, listen to your experts, be patient with colleagues and students and work to find a solution for everyone.
Balancing work and home life
Remote learning is a learning process in all senses of the term. Home is not school, and as we begin the process of mass homeschooling, it’s becoming ever more apparent that we must be wary, even with the most perfect of systems in place, of treating this new education set up as business as usual.
“We hope our teachers can understand that it will not be the same as having our students on campus. The workload can’t be the same. That the student’s wellbeing should be the priority and this is only a temporary prevention measure” says Betzabé Orenos.
Is there a solution?
Work to find a balance that works for your students. This will likely be different for every school and require some lateral thinking. For example:
Jeanne Norse, at Klem Road South Elementary School “We are offering weekly learning menus for each grade level created by that building’s grade-level. Weekly menus offer student choice. We are not teaching any new content and trying to focus our learning tasks on supplemental learning.”
Tips and tricks
Our Kami Heroes have been working hard to get their remote learning strategies up and running. Here are their pearls of wisdom for you:
Linking and sharing
“If you are using Google docs, forms or slides–using link sharing is great but be sure to make it accessible to view by anyone with the link.” Jeanne Nourse, teacher Klem Road South Elementary School
“Link to any outside resources in your google classroom posting. Do not expect students will be able to find everything.” Arielle Goldstein Technology Facilitator Millburn Middle School.
Network with other teachers:
“I am thankful to all of the teachers who have shared their ideas on different networks. Their ideas have been a light to all of us who did not have a plan before this. Betzabé Orenos, teacher Colegio Decroly Americano.
Play with apps (Kami) before assigning real work:
“If at all possible, make sure all students are able to access Kami and play with it before distance learning begins. Show them how to: allow permissions/access to google drive use highlighting, text, commenting (at the very least) how to problem solve if the assignment doesn’t open in Kami automatically (try to right-click on the PDF or use the three dots on the right-hand side to open it up in a new window and “open with”)” Rebecca Elliott teacher Cheshire High School
👋 Learn more
Thank you to all our amazing Kami Heroes for contributing their thoughts. To learn more about remote learning, go to our dedicated site here.