Perhaps you expected that I would thrive in this new world of remote-learning, where many teachers are using advanced technology to connect and to teach. Maybe you feel disappointed that I haven’t posted multiple video lessons every week, and that I’m not pushing forward more aggressively with the civics curriculum. After all, I’ve been assigning video lessons since the second week of school.
The truth is that a “flipped classroom” needs more than video. It also requires reliable ways to assess learning, it depends on systems for identifying errors and encouraging remediation, and it needs a common space to build beyond the basics from the video lesson – that is where the real learning happens!
I have already learned hard lessons about the limits of online learning. In February 2015, we had 3 straight weeks of heavy snowstorms that cancelled and disrupted school. That was a huge deal at the time, but actually far less pervasive and prolonged than the current emergency. I persevered with video assignments and assessments about federalism and separation of powers. I committed myself to be available anytime day or night for students’ questions and assistance. It did not work well: in-class quiz scores were well below-average, and I had to retread a lot of that material in March. [I blogged about it then, and again more with more detail in 2017.]
Now here we are in 2020. After a couple weeks of experimentation and exposure with GoogleMeet and then Zoom, it seems clear to me that videoconferences during “office hours” do not provide the necessary common space for deeper learning, and meaningful assessment/intervention is also very difficult. During the vidchats, I’m sure that many students have muted the sound. I feel certain that some are using their phones. Watching on “grid view” is actually every teenager’s worst nightmare: everybody really is looking at them!
That's why last week I asked your children to answer a short survey (still no response from 15 of them) about their sleep habits, which are clearly visible here.
I also asked for some meme captions and got quite a few really funny submissions!
Andrew Swan (still your child's teacher!)