As we head into summer months and with an uncertain fall, educators around the country and the world are trying to make sense of what teaching and learning will look like when schools open up again for the 20-21 School Year.
This spring when the schools were first hit with the pandemic, educators around the globe were forced into emergency remote teaching. Superintendents, Principals, Teachers and Parents were thrust into a completely unfamiliar instructional model where both students and teachers could not attend school and had to learn and teach from home. Fortunately, the dedicated and passionate educators around the world made the best out of an incredibly challenging situation but unfortunately, communities that have been historically underserved were underserved once again. The inequities in our country regarding access to the internet and technology that educators have been raising the alarm bell about for years were revealed for all to see as the education system tumbled into emergency remote learning. As we now turn our attention to preparation for the reopening of schools in the fall we must have equity and access as our primary lens as we design what in all likelihood will be a Blended Learning model consisting of some online and some face-to-face learning.
“If ever there was a moment in time that made it clear that access to educational resources that are only available online should be viewed as a right not a privilege for all of our students it is now.”
As the education communities consider what their Blended Learning model for the fall will be, access to the internet and technology is just the first step in the journey towards an equitable and just learning environment. Educators know that just ensuring all students can get online and login does not ensure accessibility for all of their students. Whatever Blended Learning model and tools a district settles on the for the fall, they must also ensure that the model and the instructional resources ensure the learning is both accessible and comprehensible for English Language Learners, students with a learning disability as well as students who come from under-resourced and oppressed communities. I believe that this is an opportunity for both the education community as well as the EdTech industry to address these inequities that have existed long before the world was thrust into a global pandemic.
“Will we challenge ourselves as educators to design truly equitable and just blended learning models that will transform our education system beyond the immediate crisis or will we continue to flounder in an emergency remote learning system that exacerbates the inequities in our system?”
After this incredibly stressful and chaotic school year will we as educators take this opportunity to address these long-standing inequities in our education system or will we choose to view work this summer as temporary solutions to emergency problems to be discarded as soon as the pandemic subsides? Will we challenge ourselves as educators to design truly equitable and just blended learning models that will transform our education system beyond the immediate crisis or will we continue to flounder in an emergency remote learning system that exacerbates the inequities in our system? I believe the education community is ready for a transformation but first, we as educators need to better understand what blended learning is and what tools and professional development we need to ensure that all learning experiences are accessible and comprehensible to all students and families we serve. Additionally, we as educators need the EdTech community to stand up and meet this challenge also and recognize that many if not most of the products and services on the market today are part of the problem.
Will the EdTech community continues to try to sell educators on products that do not ensure access for all students or will they meet the moment and work collaboratively with their education partners working side by side to design Blended Learning tools that educators can use to transform our education system into a more just and equitable system. I believe together we can meet this once in a lifetime challenge but, I believe that we must first recognize that COVID-19 didn’t cause the inequities it just exposed them for all to see.