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Online education has the advantages of school safety and school choice – The CT Mirror

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New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Donald Trump, ironically, are on the same page regarding schooling in buildings. In advocating for in-person instruction, they are both wrong. In-school sessions bring every thoughtful student fear ear that she or he is about to give a deadly virus to grandma that evening at home or later that month. That alone means that until there is a successful vaccine, in-school learning cannot be as effective as online learning.

Mark Stewart Greenstein

In-school sessions are not as good as online sessions. Masked teachers cant be heard as well as unmasked teachers teaching online. Masked teachers lose half of their face to students. And masked students fail to give teachers feedback about how their teaching is going over.

My firm helps middle schoolers and high schoolers. We have individually tutored academics and SAT prep since 2007, and we have conducted online classes for six years. When we teach online we can react to our students expressions. We also have the ability to segment students into groups; one group can move faster and grapple with higher level materials, while the other group can move slower and not feel intimidated.

The inequities of some students not owning laptops or having high-speed internet access can be ended in an instant. The money a district saves by closing (in custodial costs, insurance costs, heating costs, and maintenance costs) can pay for laptops and high-speed internet in every one of its low-income households.

In case there is an inequity in tutors, that gap is lessened because tutors are far more affordable online. My firm has tutors available online at half the rates than it would cost them to travel and work in person. (Kristof cannot responsibly speak about ending education inequities without first demanding vouchers for urban families; the biggest rich-poor education inequity ENDS within months of a state adopting a meaningful voucher program.)

What Kristof doesnt raise is the deadly inequity: Black and Latino families have grandparents at home far more frequently than white families. There will be true counseling needed in abundance when any child, of any race, carries the thought that I just put grandma on a ventilator.

Kristof writes: We need to try harder to get kids back in school. The better mantra is: We need to get school back to kids. A school BUILDING is the least important aspect of a school. And now, these monuments are impeding learning and possibly becoming the cauldron of disease.

Online learning is good and getting better. This is a GOOD opportunity to reduce inequities. Small classes are more easily done online than in person. And neat enrichment classes that are often unavailable, especially in rural areas, can be held economically online because they are not limited by geography. The mineralogist in North Dakota can teach east coast, southern, and western kids from her home computer simultaneously. The rhetoric class that got cancelled years ago can be resurrected using an accomplished law student. The environmental science class can be taught by a collaborationof teachers who might at different times be on display from a perch beside a redwood forest, above an eroded shoreline, or even at a site damaged by a storm.

In sum, this is the time for educators to support micro schools. Whether they are done by established school districts alone, or by firms specializing in online schooling that can work with school districts, or with voucher support for online schools to teach the way they know best, kids will benefit and their families will stay safe.

We are at a beautiful crossroads of school safety and school choice. Amazingly, Trump is on the wrong side of what conservatives have asked for for decades; and the New York Times columnist is on the wrong side of what protective progressives have asked for in COVID-era safety. Both are showing their establishment cards here. NOT so amazingly, parents who dont want to imperil their households are allied with teachers who by and large prefer to teach online. They now have a common enemy intransigent government administrators.

The bureaucrats have chosen to modify their in-building procedures when they should be choosing to end them and put all their efforts into wholesome online education.

Mark Stewart Greenstein of Newington is director of Ivy Bound Test Prep, a Micro School for grades K 12.

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Los Alamos Online Learning Academy Goal Is To Ensure All Students Are Learning And Have Same Opportunity To Thrive – Los Alamos Reporter

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Director Sharon Fogle was on hand the first day of school as Los Alamos Online Learning Academy students drove by to greet teachers and pick up materials. Photo Courtesy LAPS


While many parents and students have chosen to learn remotely this fall until schools can transition to a hybrid model and potentially, to five days a week in person learning, some families opted for a new school opportunity this year: the Los Alamos Online Learning Academy (LAOLA).

These families will continue online learning throughout the school year. The new school, headed by Dr. Sharon Fogle, has approximately 350 students enrolled in kindergarten through 8th grade. There are currently two teachers per grade for K 6, one 7th grade teacher and one 8th grade teacher. The school also offers a full range of support services for special education and guidance. For grades 9-12, LAPS has an online option called Topper Virtual Academy headed by Ms. Renee Dunwoody. TVA is designed to provide a solid path to high school graduation.

In a letter to families, Dr. Fogle said, Whether your decision was based on safety, convenience, flexibility or consistency, we want you to know that we are committed to your childs physical, social, emotional and academic well-being.

Dr. Fogle recently shared more details about the new school and the differences between remote learning and the goals of the Online Academy.

What drew you to accepting the position of Director of the Online Learning Academy?

Albert Einstein said, In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. I believe that statement sets the vision for the Online Learning Academy. As schools began to adjust their programs to deal with the current health crisis, I saw an opportunity to work alongside the district leadership to create a unique educational experience for the students and families in our school community that would offer both quality and consistency. Our goal at the Academy is for our students to learn and thrive. We are committed to accomplishing this goal by remaining focused and keeping it simple.

What isthe difference between the current remote learning and the Online Learning Academy?

Right now, all students in the district are being taught remotely. The biggest difference between the two types of schools will become more apparent when the traditional schools reopen for in-person attendance. The Academy will follow the same instructional model every day throughout the school year. This gives our teachers and studentsthe ability to focus on developing highly effective strategies for teaching and learning in the online environment.

How does the Online Learning Academy work?

Students attending the Academy participate in two types of learning experiences. We referto them as synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous learning occurs at the same time, but not in the same place. During synchronous instruction, students learn from their teacher or peers in real-time. For the Academy, teachers and students use Google Meets for conducting face-to face learning experiences. Aside from Morning Announcements, this type of instruction is generally delivered in 15-20 minute segments with small groups of students. Synchronous instruction is scheduled in the mornings and averages between 1-2 hours depending on the grade-level.

The other type of instruction, asynchronous, is learning that occurs not only in different locations but also at different times. During asynchronous instruction, students learn by watching pre-recorded video lessons, email/chat exchanges between teachers and students, online discussion boards, completion of independent practice assignments, etc. Academy teachers use SeeSaw (K-1) and Google Classroom (2-8) to organize and manage asynchronous learning. Asynchronous learning is designed to take place in the afternoons or evenings depending on family schedules. Students may spend an additional one to three hours completing independent learning activities each day.

The Academy has three different schedules based on grade-level but they all have the same daily beginning, ending, and break times. To further help families, our schedule is the same every day of the week, Monday through Friday.

What experience do you bring to your new position?

This is my 35th year as a K-12 educator. Throughout my career, I have taught in a variety of grade levels, subjects, and settings. In my most recent role as an instructional coach for Los Alamos Public Schools, I have worked with teachers to focus on improving instruction through the design and implementation of learning targets. Learning targets help teachers break content into small chunks so that they can create activities that engage students in learning targeted skills that are assessed at the end of the lesson. Even though online learning is a new format for many teachers and students, the principles of effective teaching and learning remain the same. I look forward to working with our teachers as we implement these principles into our online classrooms.

How are things going so far?

Every day, I receive messages from our families like this one expressing gratitude thatLAPS is providing this option for their students.

My kids are enrolled in LAOLA. Things are going so much better this year than I could have possibly expected. The teachers are organized, they keep the kids engaged, and the technology is working well, it is great!

We appreciate the support and encouragement that we are receiving from our students and families. It is a privilege to partner with the families in our community as we work and grow together to help our students learn and thrive.

Do you see the Online Learning Academy as part of the future of LAPS or just something for this year as we deal with the pandemic?

In many aspects our story closely resembles the story of our community. The community of Los Alamos was created by individuals who came together to work on a project to address a specific national security crisis. Because of their collective expertise and pioneering spirit, they were successful in eliminating that threat. However, the innovations and discoveries that have continued to take place at Los Alamos National Lab over the past seven decades have long surpassed the goals of that initial mission.

The pandemic may have brought us together, but our goal of providing every student with an opportunity to learn and thrive is the foundation of our purpose for the Los Alamos Online Learning Academy. After the current health crisis is over, we believe that the Academy will continue to provide the students and families of LAPS with another choice for receiving a high quality education.

What makes the Los Alamos Online Learning Academy stand out from other online education options?

The things that make Los Alamos Online Learning Academy stand out from other online education options is our teachers and students. The daily learning program for each student attending the Academy is designed and delivered by a highly qualified teacher wholives and works in our community. These teachers have access to the same resources, training, and support that are available to every Los Alamos Public School teacher. Along with the strong relationships that students are able to have with their teachers, the Academy also provides an opportunity for students to connect and form friendships with their peers who live and share many of the same experiences and values found within our community.

The roadrunner was chosen for the Los Alamos Online Learning Academymascot because it is an animal unique to New Mexico just as our school is unique to LAPS. Furthermore, the roadrunner symbolizes intelligence, courage, and the ability to face dangers and difficulties with a positive attitude.

The original artwork for our logo with the phrase defying expectations was created for our school in memory of an individual who exemplified the spirit and passion of the roadrunner and the fulfillment of our school mission.

Our goal remains the same: to ensure that all of our students are learning and have the same opportunity to thrive, Dr. Fogle said.

Supt. Kurt Steinhaus said: I am pleased that we can offer this high-quality option for LAPS students and parents. This is one more example of our goal to provide flexibility for parents and student-centered options for children. Lets all say thank you to Dr. Fogle for leaning in and taking this new and exciting challenge.

For more information, check out the Los Alamos Online Learning Academy website:

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Los Alamos Online Learning Academy Goal Is To Ensure All Students Are Learning And Have Same Opportunity To Thrive - Los Alamos Reporter

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Jitterbit’s Future State of Higher Education Report Uncovers Challenges of the Move to Remote Learning – GlobeNewswire

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September 21, 2020 08:00 ET | Source: Jitterbit

ALAMEDA, Calif., Sept. 21, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Jitterbit, the API transformation company, today revealed the results of The Future State of Higher Education report, which examines how institutions are preparing for the future. Ninety-two percent of respondents said COVID-19 is the greatest challenge higher education institutions have faced, and many are struggling to adapt to this new environment. The report details how education institutions have set up remote-learning technology, what challenges they're encountering in doing so, and what tools they've invested in to help overcome those challenges.

According to the Davidson University research, roughly a third of higher education institutions, including some of the nation's largest public universities, will offer primarily online education this year. Responses from the Jitterbit survey suggest that remote learning is a huge priority, and higher education institutions are looking to provide personalized experiences by connecting multiple systems. There are many different learning styles, from visual to auditory to solitary to social learning, so the key is to provide a blended learning experience using the right technologies that map to different learning styles for optimal learning experiences.

"To help provide the best experience possible for students, institutions are turning to everything from communication tools to learning management solutions and even virtual reality," said Shekar Hariharan, vice president of marketing at Jitterbit. "This report shows the lengths these institutions are going to ensure the highest-quality education for remote learners. It also highlights just how many different systems these schools must now operate. The ability to connect these platforms for a seamless experience for students, educators, and administrators is crucial.

Health, Safety, and Smooth Transitions a Priority The survey indicated that both student safety as well as their ability to learn online are top priorities for higher education institutions. Nearly 70% of respondents said, "providing a safe, healthy, and productive environment for students to learn in" is their top priority for the 2020 academic year. More than one-third (35%) listed needing the ability to seamlessly move from in-person classes to remote learning as a top priority.

Creating a welcoming online environment is not without its challenges. A majority (52%) of respondents said that giving lectures or showing slides is one of the biggest challenges to remote learning and also an activity that needs improvement. The two biggest areas that were identified as areas for improvement include the ability to help at-risk students, and student collaboration.

Faced with uncertainty, higher education institutions are investing in a broad range of tools to transition to remote learning. These technologies offer promise for a more seamless transition, but they also represent complexity. How institutions connect these tools and leverage the data they provide will go a long way toward ensuring a seamless, engaging remote-learning experience for students.

To gather more insights from Jitterbits The Future State of Higher Education report:

About Jitterbit, Inc. Jitterbit, the API transformation company, makes it quicker and easier for businesses to exploit data from any source, empowering them to rapidly innovate and make faster, more effective decisions. The Jitterbit Harmony API integration platform and API360 solutions enable companies to quickly connect SaaS, on-premises, and cloud applications and instantly infuse intelligence into any business process. To learn more, visit and follow @Jitterbit on Twitter.


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University of Iowa education majors continue student teaching online – UI The Daily Iowan

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Students in the UI College of Education are required to complete a semester of student teaching, which comes with pandemic-specific challenges.


University of Iowa student teacher, Emma Lindskog, reads aloud a book to her fourth grade class on Sept. 17.

Morgan Ungs, News Reporter September 21, 2020

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To become a licensed teacher and graduate from the University of Iowas College of Education, students are required to complete a semester of student teaching. Already a major hurdle for education majors, COVID-19 has set the bar even higher.

As most K-12 schools transition into either hybrid or online education, student teachers are adapting to the style of the school they are stationed at.

UI student Emma Lindskog teaches elementary students and said she was supposed to do some of her student teaching abroad in Ireland, but the trip was canceled. The school where she is instead, Kate Wickham Elementary School in Iowa City, uses a hybrid format in which students are split up into A, B, and C groups.

C students were completely online, and A and B were alternating hybrid days, Lindskog said. Because there is such small number of students, she is only teaching those in the A and C groups.

We do a lot of asynchronous learning because were having to teach it in person and online at the same time, she said. Its really hard to get to know your kids and give them feedback to make sure theyre learning because you really dont get to talk to them as much.

UI student Thomas Hartley, a student teacher at Highland Elementary, is also experiencing teaching from a hybrid format. He said one thing that has been difficult is teaching the same lesson two days in a row and teaching in a hybrid model is double the work as he is planning out the lessons.

When theyre at home on their off-site days, we have to plan at least three subjects full of instructions on math, reading and writing is what our district has decided as a priority. Hartley said.

He said he felt prepared from his education at the UI to adapt to the technology, but it does not necessarily prepare student teachers for teaching online.

How do you get a kid to work with you and pay attention when theyre at home when theres a lot of different stimuli on top of the socio-emotional needs of the kids stuck at home because of the pandemic? he said. School is routine and consistency, and the kids are just not getting the consistency.

RELATED:COVID-19 and distance learning affect student-teaching experience

Lindskog said even among college students, some are receptive to online learning while others struggle, just like the children she teaches. She said some students cant focus online or cant understand the technology.

She added that some of the parents are struggling with online or hybrid models, as well.

I know some parents have struggled with it just because they do have full time jobs, Lindskog said. So that is difficult, but you know theyre kind of having to help their kids walk through things online but I mean who knows if theyre working from home or if theyre working somewhere else, that a kid is kind of left to figure things out, so thats difficult on a parents perspective.

UI student Erin Cork is teaching in Mount Vernon, Iowa. She mentioned the challenges of fulfilling requirements during the pandemic.

Its called TPA [Teacher Performance Assessment], which is basically the requirements to get your teaching license. Instead of having an end of the semester test, [student teachers] submit a portfolio. she said. You have to do instruction planning to come up with four different lessons and you have to write up lesson plans for how you will assess them afterwards. The second task is an actual video clip of you teaching.

Cook added that there has been no change to these requirements despite student teachers that may be required to teach online classes.Even with all the uncertainty, both Hartley and Lindskog said they are grateful for the experience.

Hartley said the pandemic has allowed him to value in-person instruction even more than before COVID-19.

He said that when he teaches in the future, he plans on focusing less on things like lecturing, when he can spend his time socializing with students and allowing them to have fun.

Lindskog said she has concerns about transitioning from a hybrid style of teaching back to in person, but she said it is all part of the education field in general.

I think the field of education in general you have to be very flexible and go with the flow, she said. I mean this is the state of our world right now as people go into education. So, do whatever you can to help the child learn, regardless of what the situation is.

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Student-teacher internships dry up The Famuan – Famuan

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FAMUs College of Eduaction. Photo courtesy Shavell Martin

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the education system on every level. Social distancing protocols in Leon County Schools have not only hindered students but they have stymied FAMU students in the College of Education who are eager to do a student-teacher internship.

One of the graduation requirements for the college is a student teaching internship. Senior students are selected for a school to receive realistic, hands-on training alongside a teacher. As of now,Leon County Schools is not allowing visitors on its campuses until next semester.

Senior Taylor Brown is coping with the new way of learning by simply dealing with it and choosing to learn what might be the new way of teaching.

Remote learning has taken away our in-person interaction with students but there is no telling how long this will last. I will be graduating soon and this may be preparing me for the new way of teaching, Brown said.

There are at least three student-teachers who are in the works with completing their internship and abiding by Leon CountysCOVID-19 protocols.

The unknown has caused frustration and concern for education majors. Senior education student Victoria Hernandez believes she will be ready to teach after graduating, but her concerns are for the students engaging in online education.

I fear that a lot of kids will fall behind due to distance learning due to the fact that we are now adapting. Not every child has a good support system at home which will cause them to fall behind, Hernandez said.

FAMUs College of Education recently partnered with Mursion, a virtual reality training simulation software.This software will be used to conduct simulation classrooms for the student to assess teaching skills, behavior, and classroom management skills.

The dean of the College of Education, Allyson Watson, has been assisting and supporting her students since the beginning of remote learning. The college has transitioned to conduct online training for students preparing for certification tests, provided textbooks and laptops, and held workshops.

We have to make sure that theyre going to be willing and have the ability to stand in front of class, a class of students and get them excited about learning. Thats what were looking for in the College of Education ways to be able to say, not only do we want you to be successful in front of the computer screen, but we also want you to be successful in the actual classroom setting, Watson said.

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Ed Talk: Don’t Let Zoom Be Our Doom – ARLnow

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Ed Talk is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solelythe authors.

Since APS announced its decision to begin this school year 100% remotely, many parents and perhaps students maybe even a few teachers have been anticipating a disastrous start, if not a disastrous year.

Were closing out week two of the distance learning year. Despite some significant technological issues and individual challenges adjusting to the new format, it has not been the initial overarching catastrophe many predicted.

For our family, our first days glitches were all rather quickly resolved. Admittedly, our middle schooler is using a personal laptop rather than the school-issued iPad. (Yes, I read your message, Dr. Duran; and I understand that you are encouraging all students to use the APS-issued device. But this time, were going rogue. Even if our middle schooler had never experienced the consistent connectivity issues with the iPad over the past two years, we prefer an actual keyboard and a larger screen for working a full year online. But the fact that its time APS swapped out middle school iPads for laptops is another discussion.)

While APS technology staff continues to manage the logistics of distance learning, the rest of us need to monitor distance learning itself. To that end, APS should immediately establish (yet another) working group or committee to monitor and collect feedback, data, and other information about academic, social, psychological, and technological matters through the duration of this school year.

Teachers, administrators, parents/guardians, students, school psychologists and counselors, and activities directors should all be represented. A simple and easy way for people to comment and share personal experiences as they occur during the year is essential. The information gathered would guide decisions and improvements as the year progresses, as well as fuel planning and applying lessons learned for future instruction when teachers and students ultimately return to the classroom full time.

We should strive to learn about such things as:

Two particularly valuable lessons may be in the areas of how to excite students about learning, whether in-person or virtual, and the role of technology in education.

To prepare for remote teaching, teachers have had to redesign their curriculum for a whole new format and will hopefully continually improve their skills and techniques over the course of the year. As my husband attests, teaching a college-level course in a classroom is very different from teaching it online. That phenomenon applies even more so to preschool 12 education.

It requires different ways of presenting material and new skills for reading students, to elicit their participation, to motivate and draw out the best from each one. Mental health professionals face challenges as they meet with patients online where engagement is often lower or in-person with masks which obscure the facial expressions vital to contextualizing and interpreting comments and reactions things trained professionals rely on in order to help their patients. Teachers use facial cues, student participation, and class behavior in the same way.

This year will offer ongoing opportunities to consider how students learn, what makes a teacher effective, and new ideas for the context of the traditional classroom experience. A major factor in teaching this year and another key matter for APS and a committee to consider is the role of educational technology.

The 1:1 personal device and personalized learning initiatives have from this parents perspective directed focus to the device and online work more than it has enhanced education. There seems to be increased reliance on short assignments and quick assessments; multiple choice v. short answer quizzes or essays; and slide presentations v. composition papers. In math, weve seen far less reliance on thoroughly working a volume of problems and an increased tendency to make educated guesses on digital multiple choice formats.

Aspects of these digital tools offer options and variety that serve an array of learners. At the same time, however, the use of technology seems also to have in some ways made learning less interesting or less challenging, instead of more engaging as personalized learning is intended to do. This has perhaps subtly contributed to a lowering of academic skills standards in the process. It is important to remember that technology is merely one teaching tool. Personalized learning itself is independent from and can take place in the absence of technology.

It did not take long after things shut down to see how critical in-person interactions and social connections are, especially to our youth. And many already recognize a richness to in-person learning that cannot be duplicated or replaced in online or remote platforms. Boredom and isolation take firm root in the absence of others physical presence. It is difficult to feed off each others energy online and challenging to have the meaningful, in-depth, large group discussions which broaden and deepen the academic quality and experience for both students and teachers.

Therefore, we should be careful not to use any success of distance learning this year as justification to rush to online learning as an easy solution to difficult problems in our education system. Zoom and similar platforms have saved many of us and much of our economy during this critical time. Yet, through zoom fatigue and lower levels of engagement in a virtual format by many people especially a lot of young people a loss of true connection is gaining foothold. Over-reliance on it in education will erode an important aspect of the classroom experience.

So, lets not let accept this as our inevitable new norm. Nor let us allow it to cast doom over our educational system by making it our go to fix-it tool. For instance, we should not be quick to implement online learning as a capacity solution or as a means to outsource classes and limit future in-house offerings. Students currently are required to complete at least one online course for graduation. We should be cautious about the potential slippery slope of requiring more.

High quality online classes and distance learning indeed can potentially expand opportunities or provide access to classes available at one school but not another. Online education may better suit some students and specific classes may lend particularly well to a virtual format. But any introduction of broad or permanent online delivery programs must be carefully considered and thoughtfully designed to fit students learning styles and needs without sacrificing quality or limiting students ability to experience the highest excellence in education.

Two weeks in, I have no idea how successful this year will end up being from an academic perspective. For now, Ive chosen not to worry about that. I am far less concerned about the amount of knowledge my children accumulate this year than I am about the academic skills they develop, whether they find enthusiasm for learning, and their character growth.

In terms of our school system, lets use this time effectively to strengthen weaknesses and find real solutions to problems. Lets judiciously develop and employ truly effective educational technology. Consistently. Across all schools. At every level. For every student.

A committee studying all aspects of this school year, from academic to socioemotional, can be key in keeping us focused, diligent, and moving forward together to a better and more successful educational program for all of our kids.

Maura McMahon is the mother of two children in Arlington Public Schools. An Arlington resident since 2001, McMahon has been active in a range of County and school issues. She has served on the ThomasJefferson, South Arlington, and Career Center working groups and is the former president of the Arlington County Council of PTAs.

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New Online Tool from Pa. Dept. of Education will help school districts track their "equity journey" – Pittsburgh Current

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By Mary Niederberger Pittsburgh Current Education Writer

The state Department of Education today launched an Equitable Practices Hub that is aimed at getting school districts to perform a deep analysis of equity practices and make the changes needed to ensure that academics, discipline and extracurricular activities are available to all students on an equal basis.

Weve made it a one-stop shop for LEAs (Local Education Agencies) to find out where they are in the equity journey, said Nikole Hollins-Sims, special advisor around equity to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

For some districts, using the hub will be a start, Hollins-Sims said. Others may be halfway through and others further along in the journey. This hub is essentially a guidepost.

The departments goal for equity is that every student has access to the educational resources and rigor they need, when they need it, across race, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, family background and/or family income, according to a press release announcing its launch.

The hub holds resources such as best practices, models and guidance, but it first asks schools and districts to take a deep look into their data and practices and how they affect students, particularly those in marginalized communities or vulnerable groups including minorities, students with disabilities, English language learners and those living in poverty.

The education department asks each district or school to use the Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium Criteria for an Equitable School Tool before using the resources in the hub.

Hollins-Sims called it an equity audit.

The tool asks educators to answer a number of questions about equity in their district, forcing them to take a hard look at some sensitive issues.

It starts by asking if a school system has a specific plan for educational equity but then moves on to questions about the distribution of highly qualified teachers throughout the system and whether there are policies to ensure that no students are excluded from extra or co-curricular activities because of race, language, gender, gender identity, socioeconomics, disability or transportation issues.

It questions if interpreters are available within a school system for all of the languages present in the school community

And, it asks districts to review enrollments of students in special education, gifted programs and advanced courses to ensure there is not a disproportionate representation of one racial or ethnic group, language or gender identity. Traditionally, minorities have had far lower enrollments in gifted programs and advanced courses.

It also asks if data is regularly collected, disaggregated and analyzed by such areas as standardized test scores, student discipline, bullying and harassment and participation in school activities and honors.

There is a school climate review as well which asks such questions as whether programs, speakers and curriculum in the school district represent the diversity that exists in the system, if bulletin board postings and other materials show students of diverse backgrounds

Educators are also asked to review discipline practices and data to determine if they are carried out equitably among the various populations of students.

In Allegheny County, Leanna Lawson, program director for training and consultation at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, is the point person for school districts who need help finding resources.

Lawson served on committees that helped to develop the hub, which was two and a half years in the making.

Lawson said in the coming weeks she will work to ensure that all school districts in the county know about the hub and its purpose. Following that she will encourage any educators who might need technical support or training, such as data analysis, to reach out to the AIU,

Both Lawson and Hollins-Sims noted there are no quick fixes to equity issues. This work is literally paradigm-shifting, Hollins-Sims said.

Lawon suggests districts start by focusing on pieces of their equity work and creating momentum and change rather than trying to fix an entire system.

The hub was launched at this time because all of its components were ready, Hollins-Sims said.

But it is timely given the racial discord in the nation and the COVID-19 pandemic which is creating equity issues in education as students are kept from their classrooms and many of the services they normally receive and as families live through the trauma of isolation, job loss and possible health issues related to the virus.

Our populations who have been marginalized in the past are experiencing this pandemic at much higher rates of trauma, said Dana Milakovic, mental health and alcohol and other drugs specialist for the department of education.

Theres resources (in the hub) on how to engage with families. How to do check-ins with families. How to support families with the traumas that are existing, she said.

The equity hub is an outgrowth of the Pennsylvania Equity and Inclusion Toolkit the department provided in April 2017 to help districts react to incidents of discrimination.

Hollins-Sims said the hope is that the equity hub will help prevent incidents of discrimination. So the environment is such that we hopefully wouldnt have this happen again, she said.

She said the hub will become a living breathing resource and more strategies will be added as they are developed.

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Great education can bring together online and off-line experiences – The Jerusalem Post

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Online education is not merely a temporary adaptation to the contingencies of a pandemic-wracked world. After navigating an involuntary crash course in online learning, educational institutions are now recognizing that they will eventually deploy these strategies alongside off-line experiences in the post-COVID future.

They are finding that these two modalities are complementary: each one fills gaps for the other. Thus, the coronavirus holds the promise of elevating the impact of educational institutions in the future.

When Israel first entered lockdown, Masa Israel Journey, founded by the Jewish Agency and the government of Israel, faced the challenge of shifting our offerings online. This was particularly complicated for us since we design dynamic and experimental educational experiences that rely heavily on firsthand encounters with Israels people, places and institutions.

While at the start of the crisis, many of us rushed to provide alternative programming, we quickly recognized the importance of strategic pauses to evaluate and readapt our offerings according to what we learned. That helped us to cleverly and sophisticatedly use the online setting as new means of engagement and to augment the reach of in-person events.

Through quarantine, we have been continuously conceiving and producing new, relevant content. The educational offerings we have rolled out include Masa: Online a virtual platform offering lectures, workshops and live events, some led by Masas community members themselves; and Project Y, a fellowship program that brings together a diverse cohort of Masa fellows and Jewish-Israeli students to examine the contemporary Jewish reality and design educational experiences for one another. After remaking our annual Holocaust Remembrance Day program, which brings participants to Yad Vashem, into an online format, we were able to reach 1,300 participants and alumni around the world. Even after social distancing restrictions ease, these methods will continue to enhance participants experiences and reach more people than we can solely on the ground, thus strengthening connections worldwide.

In cooperation with our directors and coordinators drawing on the insight of a range of stakeholders, including young program participants and alumni we have developed programming that utilizes quarantine to equip participants with tools for the rest of their journeys in Israel and afterward. This includes opportunities for personal growth, like ulpan classes and career guidance courses, as well as chances to discuss deep and relevant questions about Jewish identity with fellows from all over the world.

Once the Health Ministry allowed gatherings of 50 people in open spaces, we decided to hold our Shavuot Festival. It was our first in-person event in several months. 250 fellows came together at six different educational meetups for thoughtful discussions about farewells and new beginnings inspired by the themes of the Book of Ruth. In these personal and intimate settings, participants were able to not only hear but truly listen to diverse speakers, representing Israels rich cultural landscape. Computers do not replace the value of physically experiencing the people and places around us.

The key for success in our shifting world is to create systems in which online and off-line experiences are integrated and it is easy to pivot in between them. Emerging from the initial pandemic wave, weve now focused on proactively designing versatile programming for a sliding scale of online-off-line engagement.

Thousands of participants are now entering Israel, and this years cohort of Masa Israel Teaching Fellows, for example, will have access to online content that delves into subjects related to the core concepts of their program: Israels culture, education system and diverse communities. At the end of their mandatory quarantine, they will convene for an in-person conference (designed in accordance with the Health Ministrys safety restrictions and guidelines) to reflect on the lessons and growth from their time in physical isolation. Rather than feeling a need to compensate for lost time, they will be more informed and prepared for their off-line experiences in ways not available within the walls of a classroom.

This pandemic will leave us all with valuable insight about the relationship between online and off-line learning. Forward-thinking education models can take advantage of the benefits of each, as well as the unique synergy of their combination.

The immediate future is uncertain, but harnessing both online and off-line capabilities gives us the flexibility to offer seamless, rich educational experiences in any situation; deepen the impact of our live programs with complementary materials; and create a more engaged community around the world.

The writer is the education R&D manager of the Masa Leadership & Impact Center.

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Great education can bring together online and off-line experiences - The Jerusalem Post

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Zoom University is cheating students out of a proper education – Stony Brook Statesman

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A laptop sitting next to some notebooks. Most classes this semester are being taught online through Zoom and Blackboard. AMY CHEN/THE STATESMAN

Virtual school, dubbed Zoom University, has become the new norm for education in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ever since March, schools and universities across the country have adapted to this odd situation by moving classrooms to a digital format.

Apps such as Zoom, Blackboard and Canvas are pioneering the way for remote learning. By taking advantage of these technological innovations, virtual schooling seems like a perfect solution that will allow students to continue their education while facing a global health crisis. Although online schooling provides students with an education, it is cheating them out of a proper one.

Online education is nowhere near the quality of in-person learning for a number of reasons. Yes, it teaches students time management and how to work independently, but if they have a hard time focusing, their educational careers could be put at stake.

Firstly, Zoom is reportedly a very buggy app. It often has connection issues and has a high chance of crashing. Because of these issues, both students and teachers have run into problems that caused them to either miss important information or lose precious class time.

Additionally, the security protocols that the app offers are mediocre at best. Every meeting could be susceptible to Zoom bombing people hijack Zoom meetings and expose their participants to content with varying degrees of crudeness. All Zoom bombers need access to is the meeting ID and password, which can be provided to them by students on the internet.

If someone does not have access to a stable internet connection, a phone or a computer, virtual schooling has the possibility of destroying their educational career. This becomes a problem for lower income students, as they do not have the same privileges as the rest of their classmates. These problems could cause lower-income students to fall behind in classes.

An article from the Los Angeles Times, addresses this problem by examining the situation of Andrew Diaz, a 10th grader whose financial situation caused him to fail his classes. Before remote learning went into full effect, he was a model student, earning As and Bs in all of his classes.

With his mother stuck at work and no supervision from teachers, Diaz slowly began to lose motivation to attend classes. By the end of April, Diazs school-related depression had taken its full effect. I feel like when I move on to 11th grade, Im gonna be behind, and everybodys gonna, like, be smarter than me, and Im afraid, he said in the article.

Furthermore, when classes are moved online, cheating becomes infinitely easier, with about 32.7% of students admitting to it.This allows students to get away with many things that they would not be able to do in the classroom.

When students begin to cheat on all of their assignments, they fail to actually take in the information that was assigned to them to learn. Because remote learning makes it easier to cheat, the classroom can become an environment of dishonesty.

Classes that move to online outlets lose an essential element of school the relationship between the teacher and their students.The lack of interpersonal connection turns learning into a desolate void in which information is spat back and forth with little critical engagement or debate.

Having a teacher who builds relationships with their students allows students to form a connection with the content that they are learning. They are allowed to spark in-depth conversation about the content that they are being taught that only furthers their knowledge while keeping them engaged. Online school eliminates this connection education has become a strict method of memorizing information, and keeping to the tight schedule of the curriculum.

In this time of stress and uncertainty, students and teachers are all overwhelmed. If you are struggling in class, reach out to your teachers or professors and let them know that you need help.

Even though Zoom University is greatly hindering academia, it is saddening to say that it is currently the only viable option we have that allows students to continue their education without the threat of COVID-19. Until everything returns to normal, we must try our best to make do with the husk of an education system we once had.

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Zoom University is cheating students out of a proper education - Stony Brook Statesman

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The unexpected benefits of virtual education – World Economic Forum

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Let's just say it: there is nothing ideal about students and teachers dealing unexpectedly with remote learning, as millions have been doing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That said, there may be a silver lining to virtual classrooms and distance learning, which many universities and schools this academic year are defaulting to, in various degrees, due to the coronavirus. As students and teachers may have to compensate for logistic challenges, collaborating online might prepare high school students with the kind of organizational acumen, emotional intelligence and self-discipline needed for modern careers, particularly those that allow for the growing trend of working in remote, distributed teams. The sooner that students master those proficiencies, the better off they'll be when they reach the job market.

Many people worked from home at least part of the time before COVID-19, and the pandemic has only accelerated that reality. In 2018, 70% of people globally telecommuted at least once every week, and 53% worked outside of a traditional office for at least half of the week, according to International Workforce Group.

In the US, as the pandemic forced many employees to work from home, their employers were encouraged by how productive their workforce remained. So much so that by 5 June 2020, 82% of 200 US business leaders surveyed by Gartner said they intended to give employees the option of working from home at least part of the time after the pandemic; 47% reported that they will offer telecommuting 100% of the time.

Employers weren't the only ones who were pleased: an August 2020 IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) study discovered that 67% of US respondents surveyed prefer to work from home, at least some of the time. Fifty percent of respondents want it to be their primary way of working when the pandemic ends.

Traditional white collar careers were the first to offer geographic, work-from-anywhere flexibility, but there is a growing category of professional positions that will also allow for telecommuting and offer significant opportunity to expand access to fast-growing, well-paying careers. These are called "new collar" jobs, which often require specific, in-demand skills acquired through apprenticeships or credentials earned from abbreviated post high school coursework, but not always a traditional bachelors degree.

In these roles, employees can expect to work in geographically dispersed, virtual teams. Members of these teams will have to know how to collaborate efficiently, conduct online research and analysis, use resources like AI and the cloud, master speaking and presentation skills, seek continuing education, exercise emotional intelligence, and become more self-motivated and proactive.

New collar skills, both soft and hard, are in real demand. A 2019 study from the IBM IBV found that behavioural skills had become even more prized by executives than technical acumen. In fact, the study showed that flexibility and adaptability to change are now considered most important, followed closely by time management and ability to work effectively in team environments. Telecommuting and distributed teams demand all of these talents.

Well before COVD-19, remote work even became a component of the student internship experience. For example, during the summer of 2019, at an IBM-affiliated P-TECH school in Baltimore (part of a network of public vocational-technical high schools in 24 countries, co-founded by IBM, that offer mentorships, paid internships and no-cost community college degrees), summer student interns worked out of rented space within a business incubator facility. They used videoconferencing and collaboration tools to work with IBM colleagues and managers around the world.

Professionals of course still benefit greatly from in-person contact, and that will likely never change. There are plenty of anecdotes about water cooler discussions or hallway encounters that have led to new ideas and radical innovation. The same goes for educators, who benefit from in-person professional development and sharing of best practices. But educators are also seeing a benefit to some remote learning. One teacher, at an IBM-affiliated P-TECH school in Connecticut, observed that videoconference classes had unexpected benefits last spring: she was able to use the shorter classes for more intense discussion of previously-assigned readings. Students were able to hone their presentation and group project skills. And she was able to better appreciate some of the personal, at-home challenges that some of her students face. (Collecting information on effective pedagogy in the virtual setting will be critical to share as schools pivot to distance learning and as online curricula becomes more ubiquitous.)

Many students may have enough of the maturity, focus and self-discipline needed to learn digitally, at least some of the time. In addition to virtual classrooms, there are plenty of online resources for motivated high school students who want to prepare for college and the professional workplace. These platforms are giving students access to content that they might not otherwise have. Platforms like Open P-TECH, a set of free, self-paced classes and assessments from IBM that provide technical and career-related curricula, offer content for students who have their eye on professional, STEM-related careers. Many of these careers won't require a specific workplace; graduates will seek jobs for which virtual collaboration is expected, if not mandatory.

Of course, it's much more difficult to claim that younger, grade school students benefit much from distance learning and virtual collaboration. Their attention span is limited and is best captured by in-person engagement. For more complex topics, children need the attention, direction and feedback that only can be provided by a teacher in the same room. In-person instruction also is critical for many students with special learning needs.

The first global pandemic in more than 100 years, COVID-19 has spread throughout the world at an unprecedented speed. At the time of writing, 4.5 million cases have been confirmed and more than 300,000 people have died due to the virus.

As countries seek to recover, some of the more long-term economic, business, environmental, societal and technological challenges and opportunities are just beginning to become visible.

To help all stakeholders communities, governments, businesses and individuals understand the emerging risks and follow-on effects generated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Marsh and McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, has launched its COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications - a companion for decision-makers, building on the Forums annual Global Risks Report.

The report reveals that the economic impact of COVID-19 is dominating companies risks perceptions.

Companies are invited to join the Forums work to help manage the identified emerging risks of COVID-19 across industries to shape a better future. Read the full COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications report here, and our impact story with further information.

No matter how much we seek the upside in distance learning for students, there are decided disadvantages. For one, humans innately crave and thrive from the personal connections that face-to face interactions provide. Virtual classrooms also place a strain on parents who need to work in or outside the home. Many parents find themselves taking on the role of teacher or teachers assistant whether they have time for it or not. And students from marginalized communities often don't have the technology and connectivity needed for virtual classes. While more parts of the world become digitally connected, many impoverished populations remain disconnected, putting their futures at further risk.

In due time, physical classrooms will reopen. Until then, many schools say they will be blending in-person and virtual instruction this year, which can be seen as a necessary compromise that balances public health and education considerations. While this arrangement is not ideal, it may have some redeeming value for certain students. Just as the pandemic accelerated the adoption of telecommuting, it has also made some older students more comfortable with the idea of digital collaboration. Skills learned during the pandemic to navigate this new terrain will serve these teens well as they enter the workforce in the years ahead.

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The unexpected benefits of virtual education - World Economic Forum

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