One of the biggest questions of this pandemic summer is how K-12 schools will resume teaching in the fall, with one answer being a continuation of virtual classes that launched in the spring.
Four months ago, teachers were thrust into an online-instruction world with little training or preparation. With time a bit more on their side now, school leaders and teachers have a chance to discuss and strategize what online learning could look like in the fall semester -- and the School of Education at IUPUI is helping to facilitate those conversations.
A team of faculty and staff held "virtual sharing sessions" with administrators and teachers from a number of Central Indiana school districts, discussing experiences with remote learning in the spring alongside concerns and plans for similar instruction in the fall.
"What we really want to do is help the schools think through this -- you can't just take the classroom and put it online and expect it to work," said Jeremy Price, an assistant professor in the School of Education specializing in urban education and technology in education. "This is a context-based, community-based approach."
The School of Education's efforts will be enhanced by a $1,179,000 grant from the Indiana Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund to support educators and families through remote learning.
The team, which includes Price, clinical associate professor Paula Magee, assistant professor Cristina Santamaria Graff, and marketing and communications coordinator Javier Barrera from IUPUI, plus associate professor Ted Hall of Martin University, identified five areas in which they can help educators strategize:
- Strengthening instructional practices during remote learning -- that is, the content and goals of the instruction and how to transform it to the online setting.
- Providing digital learning resources and engagement strategies for families.
- Building administrative capacity.
- Supporting educator self-care, as traditional boundaries between work and home have been blurred by holding virtual classes.
- Preparing remote-ready future teachers in the event of future pandemics or catastrophes.
"There's a need for some external support as well as integrating technology into teaching," Hall said. "It's important to have teachers from a conceptual standpoint make the transition from face-to-face instruction to online while still being able to employ pedagogical strategies."
The team plans more sessions before school begins and is applying for grants through the Indiana Governor's Emergency Education Relief -- or GEER -- fund, a component of the CARES Act, to further support the mission.