2nd Apr, 2020 - Laurie Forcier

Building towards a new normal

Over 1.5 billion learners in 165 countries are affected by COVID-19 school closures, precipitating a moment of unprecedented change as learning and teaching moves en masse from the classroom to our homes. 

At Learnit, we’ve been connecting with leaders across the global learning ecosystem. We’ve heard stories of challenge: about the inequities in our systems, educators teaching remotely for the first time, and leaders doggedly working to secure needed resources for students – hardware, broadband, school lunches. We’ve heard stories of generosity, with hundreds, if not thousands, of organisations offering free resources and support to educators, parents and students. And in the voices of leaders we’ve heard resolve and hope. 

There is a collective understanding that learning and education will never be the same again, and there is both excitement and trepidation as leaders actively build towards a new normal in learning globally.

Here are some quick notes on what you’re telling us:

  • Capturing what we learn about teaching at distance is essential. And in the past few days, UNESCO have announced the launch of a new global education coalition to support countries in scaling up their best distance learning practices. 
  • Collaboration is the key to survival and sustainability for HE. The COVID-19 crisis won’t be the root cause of colleges and universities closing, but it will tip the most financially imperilled over the edge. Networked models like the California Virtual Campus – Online Education Initiative, which pools resources across the state’s 2-year college system, rather than leaving institutions to fend individually, will emerge as more sustainable and accessible options. We’ll also see more interdisciplinary, challenge-based programmes, like those at Tec de Monterray. 
  • Learning at work has a whole new meaning. The rule book for what can and can’t be done remotely has been torn in two. Organisations like Learnerbly, which streamlines and curates employers professional learning benefits and offerings, report some employers using this upheaval as an opportunity to encourage professional learning, bringing work and learning more closely together. 

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I want to thank those of you who reached out with additional resources to be shared with the community. A quick shout out to you here:  

  • Science educator, Joe Grabowski, wrote to share his education nonprofit, Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants, which brings science, exploration, conservation and adventure to students live through virtual speakers and field trips, at no cost.
  • Seun Stancombe of UK-based FutureLearn shared new short courses the team have developed, including courses to support educators and medical professionals working through the COVID-19 pandemic. (In a similar vein General Assembly is now offering their ‘How to Teach Online’ course free to anyone, and SNHU has partnered with Guild Education, Penn Foster, and K12 to offer free teaching modules for online educators, training for frontline workers, and home safety tips for individuals).
  • Joseph South wrote to share ISTE’s Learning Keeps Going site – including a curated page for teachers and leaders with planning documents and teaching packs on issues including equity.
  • Hall Davidson wrote to share Discovery Education’s ‘The Viruses & Outbreak Channel’ – free digital content to help educators discuss COVID-19 with learners.
  • Edtech Podcast host, Sophie Bailey, shared a recent episode in which 14 contributors from around the world voiced their opinions on the implications of COVID-19 for online learning and remote working and whether they will be long lasting. 
  • Katie Novak, at SMART, wrote to share that the company is offering free access to the SMART Learning Online Suite through the end of the school year. 

As we move forward, I look forward to speaking to more of you — to hear about the work you’re doing, learn what’s top of mind for you and your colleagues. I invite you to use my scheduling link, to schedule some time with me directly. I also invite you to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn where we’ll be sharing insights throughout the next few weeks.

Sending you my very best,

Laurie

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