Adults aren’t the only ones whose lives were suddenly disrupted by the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Seemingly out of nowhere, children in grades K-12 were forced to transition to online learning platforms (with no prior experience) to finish out the 2019-2020 school year. Though technologies like computers/laptops, applications, and software had been integrated into classrooms years ago, both teachers and students struggled to adjust.
Curriki: Bridging the Gap
Long before the coronavirus pandemic was ever an issue in the world, non-profit organizations like Curriki were striving to develop effective solutions that would bridge the gap in distance learning. The goal was to provide teachers with free and easy-to-use tools that would allow them to develop, store, and share more engaging, meaningful, and easy-to-comprehend materials for a more immersive learning experience across the board. The tools and resources found on Curriki.org, have helped teachers, content creators, and students to overcome the top challenges of distance learning during the pandemic listed below.
Challenge #1: Providing an In-Person Experience Using Virtual Platforms
One of the biggest issues teachers had was figuring out how to transform in-person instruction to an equally effective but exclusively virtual environment. How, essentially, would they ensure that students with varying technological skills and diverse learning styles could easily access and comprehend each lesson? How could teachers best deliver lectures, complete demonstrations or classroom projects, send/receive homework assignments or tests, and provide students with adequate support?
Teachers tried to create an immersive learning experience by using video conferencing software to give lectures and interact with students in real-time, uploading demonstration or instructional videos for class assignments and projects, and creating/sharing content like homework assignments and tests with cloud-based productivity and collaboration tools and file storage accounts. Unfortunately, however, it was not an effective approach for all students (or teachers).
Challenge #2: Student Engagement and Comprehension
The next challenge teachers and students had to overcome while transitioning to virtual instruction and distance learning was engagement and comprehension. The classroom provided students with a dedicated space for learning that was free from common distractions found in the home which allowed students to focus on the lessons being taught.
Whether it was taking turns reading textbooks and course materials out loud, allowing students to work in groups, integrating tech devices and digital resources, or getting hands-on with demonstrations, projects, and one-on-one tutorials for students who needed additional instruction, teachers could implement a plethora of strategies and resources to encourage student participation and improve comprehension in a classroom setting.
With distance learning, however, this proved more difficult to accomplish. Not every child had a dedicated space to focus on their education, access to technological resources (computers, internet connection, etc), and adequate support in understanding complex concepts. Though loaner laptops and free internet service were provided to students in need, it barely scratched the surface of the much bigger challenge – student’s weren’t engaging and grades were suffering.
Despite daily video conferences for instruction, links for digital textbooks and educational resources, and uploaded documents and PDFs for classroom/homework assignments, students found themselves struggling to understand lessons and complete the required coursework. The content provided, though educational, was monotonous, boring, and, therefore, difficult to grasp. What manifested, was overly stressed and anxious students with increased workloads and declining grades.
While there were other digital tools and resources teachers could have utilized to improve distance learning for students, they either required more technological experience than most teachers had, were too expensive for school districts and family budgets, or weren’t easily accessible and user-friendly for students.
Challenge #3: Hybrid Education Options
The third biggest challenge that presents a problem for both teachers and students is the reopening of schools in the middle of a pandemic. While some districts feel as though it will be safe enough in the fall to send students back to school in-person full-time (with social distancing and effective cleaning and sanitation), others aren’t so sure. As such, a hybrid option has been recommended where students (and teachers) have the option to divide their time between in-person classes and online learning.
This hybrid option, if implemented correctly, could be instrumental in keeping teachers and students safe amind the pandemic. However, it creates yet another complication in the distance learning experience. How do teachers balance providing instruction for students in the classroom and at home? Seeing as how teachers can’t be two places at once, educating students in two different environments would mean teaching lessons multiple times and using multiple methods for distributing, collecting, reviewing, and grading class/homework assignments.
CurrikiStudio And CurrikiGo Offer a Better Solution
CurrikiStudio is dubbed the world’s first free and open authoring tool for educators and content creators. Teachers and educational content creators can use this affordable, user-friendly, digital resource to develop engaging and interactive content for students. The best part is, there’s no need for extensive technological or coding experience.
Users would log in to their accounts, choose from a number of learning interaction types/templates like interactive videos, simulations, games, and more. Then, using CurrikiStudio tools, they can begin inputting course curricula to build fun, immersive, and easy-to-comprehend active learning experiences for K-12 students.
Once content creators have finished developing content for distance learning CurrikiGo would then be used for easy distribution to students. The interactive content is published and immediately available for distribution through several learning management system platforms like Google Classroom, Schoology, and Edx. It is essentially a one-stop-shop for teachers to create, distribute, and manage courses, assignments, and playlists for K-12 students.
Shifting from in-person instruction to distance learning presented quite the challenge for school districts, educators, students, and parents amid the coronavirus pandemic. Teachers struggled to provide quality education with few resources while students found it difficult to stay focused and complete assignments. While there are still a number of kinks that need to be worked out to ensure a better school year for everyone, it’s good to know that there are affordable and effective solutions like CurrikiStudio overcome the top challenges of teaching/learning during a pandemic.