Teachers are drowning in a sea of life-savers

July 22, 2020 | Hugh Norwood

Online education is failing in K-12. 

Why?  

Lack of access, lack of technology, lack of planning, lack of communication.  Take your pick, or add them all together.  Because K12 education today is definitely not lacking in online learning applications.  

With estimates in excess of 500,000 applications for online learning available these days, there is just too much to choose from.  Teachers in this new asynchronous, personalized, digital environment are drowning.  

 

Not because they don’t know their stuff.

Not because they don’t know how to engage kids.

Not even because they lack connectivity.

 

But because they are drowning in applications, online learning content, and well-meaning advice and direction from every angle, and at all hours of the day and night. 

Like any other digital consumer, teachers need coherence, consistency, and familiarity. When COVID-19 incapacitated schools nationwide, K-12 systems switched (almost overnight!) to online instructional delivery.  In a rush to answer the demands of this new environment, administrators and teachers grabbed at anything they could to help fill in gaps, replace their face-to-face lesson plans, and engage kids from a distance.  

And every teacher and administrator experienced the many well-meaning tech companies offering their resources and applications “free” during the crisis.  

And just like that--snap!--teachers and schools were swimming in tools, resources, applications and platforms.  

Today as we contemplate a new normal for K12, and as school boards and administrators struggle with balancing health & safety needs with the critical need to get kids back to the classroom, we still seem to be drowning in OER, quiz apps and piles of videos.  

But the question remains… If teachers had to go back to online instruction--either partially or completely based on their local public health guidance--would they be any more in control of the digital resources they have access to?  

At TEG, we have been voicing the critical need for districts and even states to organize, align, sequence and curate their digital resources.  Who should curate, what to align to, and how to best organize online content and instructional resources are local questions, and each state and each district will probably have its own answer.  

For states and districts, the TEG Standards & Material Navigator platform may seem like another application in the maelstrom of digital solutions--one more lifesaver in a sea of them.  But it is actually an opportunity to return to coherence, consistency, and a common vocabulary for teachers, local administrators, and even parents. 

When you’re drowning in a sea of life-savers, isn’t it better to reach for the one that is attached to a rope leading to a boat? 

 

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