Deb Meyer, Director of Strategic Growth, FlexPoint Education Cloud (Florida Virtual School)
Over the past few weeks, my daughter and I have been touring college campuses as she prepares to graduate from high school next year. While we were at the University of Madison she had a question for her high school guidance counselor, so she emailed her. Within five minutes, my daughter had a response back. This goes to show with the availability of digital tools and resources, and by incorporating technology into the classroom, communication can be instantaneous.
The past two years challenged us all but, it has also allowed us, as K-12 educators, to reimagine and rebuild a system that has remained unchanged for decades. I think one of the most important lessons we learned is how we can better students’ educational experience through the use of technology. And, what excites me most about the future of the education space, is seeing instructors and staff embracing technology and seeing its benefits.
The Importance of the Right Online Tools and Resources
There has been a lot of attention placed on online learning over the past two years, but what the majority of students experienced during the pandemic was emergency remote learning, which is not what true online learning is.
The Digital Learning Collaborative’s 2022 Snapshot does a fantastic job highlighting the differences between remote and online learning, but in summation, online learning offers extensive teacher professional development and support, personalized learning for each student, combines asynchronous and synchronous learning, and enables constant communication between teachers and families.
In contrast, emergency remote learning didn’t offer teacher professional development due to lack of time, students were taught synchronously on video calls from 8am-3pm with little to no breaks, and due to that schedule, there wasn’t time to personalize lessons for students.
"Online learning offers extensive teacher professional development and support, personalized learning for each student, combines asynchronous and synchronous learning, and enables constant communication between teachers and families."
Even though schools and educators had to learn how to incorporate new digital tools quickly, when done right they saw the benefits by the end of the year. For example, engaging digital curriculum and tools allow for teachers to have more one-on-one interaction with students, providing teachers with better insights on how their students are doing academically and emotionally. Many digital tools have allowed teachers to save time, as well as give them access to more actionable and immediate information.
For example, at FlexPoint, one feature of our curriculum is a pre-test results dashboard. These results give teachers access to data highlighting the lessons students need additional support on, allowing them to quickly help them build up their skills before assignments.
Plus, through interactive digital curriculum, students can stay engaged and focused. For example, in almost every lesson of our FlexPoint curriculum, there are interactive learning opportunities for students such as instruction that requires interaction with onscreen content, printable practices, and custom images, audio, videos, and games. Our digital courses also allow students to revisit lessons, redo assignments, and complete modules at their own pace.
This type of personalized learning and progress monitoring grows student success, as teachers can be even more in-sync with each of their students’ specific needs
If we, as education leaders, continue to champion the benefits of technology in the classroom, I know that K-12 education will change and adapt in the years to come.