How schools can succeed at educating our children with remote learning and how it may be a wave of the future, even when we go back to in-person instruction (by Lanshore CEO, Douglas Erb).

I am a father of 3 boys of school age and make no mistake, I want them to go back to school and have in person instruction.  It’s not that I don’t love my children dearly, but I can see in their faces the longing for social interaction they just don’t get right now.  Having said that, this article isn’t about the benefits of human interaction and how replete our society is of this lately, but more on how to take the lemons we have been given this year and turn it around for successful learning.

In the beginning schools fumbled around some trying to get online/remote learning to occur.  They had problems from engagement, technology and the nefarious souls that love to drop into classes they have no right being in, just to record it for their social media channels.  The bigger question is how we correct those problems, but even more importantly, let’s think about what went right and how we can utilize this to extend learning.

What went right?

Parents got to see their kids workload and the true engagement by the educators.  It causes parents to become more engaged in their children’s learning, which has been missing for a long time.  Speaking from my experience it was wonderful to see how much effort my oldest son puts into his work.  I just assumed he got by on general intelligence, but after watching him, I understand how hard he was working at school to finish his work so that he could have time for sports and other extra activities.

The importance of student and teacher mental health, and the recognition of issues as they arise, but also being proactive.  It allowed, no, required that a plan be created that can be molded to both the individual students and the group as a whole.  It also showed the agility of many administrations and the dedication that these teachers and faculty had to the quality education of the students.  It showed that they care, and it isn’t lip service.

Observations of inequity among students, specifically low socio economic status, where students did not have the resources nor guidance to complete work and therefore will be behind their peers.  While this might be an odd thing to call out as what went right, it now brings to the forefront of remote learning the needs for students to have a baseline remote education learning experience.  And conversely, it showed that students that are in a higher SES did achieve success and therefore it is not impossible for the student body in general to have a net benefit to remote learning.

Students in mass didn’t get the virus due to the school, and everyone clamoring for perfect attendance got it without getting everyone else sick.

While these are just a few items that went well or we were allowed to observe, there are several points we can take from these and ways that technology can be leveraged to assist in growing on these good learning points that occurred.

In talking with several teachers and administrators, consistency is where technology can assist in the learning experience for kids.  From one classroom to the other you have a varying capability of teacher, structure and rules.  Passing notes in one teacher’s class may mean detention and in another’s it could be a good laugh.  This inconsistency hampers education as children don’t understand what is permissible or not and simply creates confusion and irritations.  Leveraging technology that allows for consistency in approach such as decision tree analysis or RPA would bring long needed consistency.  Putting this in place gives the structure and common rule set.  Oftentimes we hear that not all rule breaking is the same and some situations need human evaluation.  What we have found is that statistically speaking, humans are wrong in real time evaluation.  Whether it be judging a classroom situation or a prognosis on a patient.  You are better off using what has been studied by many people and enforced for success.

Also, some food for thought

Why don’t we teach students from different locations, not just their school system?  This reminds me of when the Detroit Rugby team comes to Houston to play our teams here.  The experience our children got from talking about what life was like up in Detroit, or their trips to DC, these experiences can be brought right to their classroom now.  The kids were able to experience the rodeo first hand, and while they couldn’t do that online, the ability to ask those questions in a learning environment with their peers is exciting.  I think about the times while driving to school with my children and the questions they have about different countries.  We are fortunate enough to simply skype with fellow co workers to ask those questions.  Now students could do this as part of the curriculum. Want to know what the difference is between England and Great Britain, ask someone who is from there.

Having said all of this, there is no substitute for in person instruction and it is paramount that we get students back with their peers and instructors.  When this happens in the fall, we should take some of the remote lessons learned and apply them successfully to education as it continues.  One can’t help thinking about disadvantaged children in this case.  Those that have either fallen behind or have circumstances which dictate they may indeed need a special learning situation.  Why can’t we mold the new learning calendar for kids to be one that works for several children that are disadvantaged and may need to assist at home during the day, but during the evening are able to attend?  Yes, it’s called night class, but by having remote learning, the day time study can be emphasized for these kids.  Perhaps this is happening all over the place, but its not something that I’ve run into.

Also, remote learning should be an opportunity to get better education by instruction from teachers.  If the best teacher in math in the country is in rural Utah, they can login and teach thirsty-for-knowledge children in south side Chicago.  Teachers could watch and learn new tips and tricks from each other throughout the nation.  We share intelligence through the DHS, why not share in education in a better fashion.  This is where technology again could consolidate the information from the schools and identify these opportunities.  RPA could easily pick up the numbers and identify good and bad anomalies.

I hope to see some of these thoughts put into place, and fully intend on bringing them up in my next teacher luncheon.  While I did interview several teachers, politicians and administrators for this article, it is largely my thinking and not anything certified by professional instructors.  All people interviewed were either from the US or UK, and no nuclear physicists were harmed during the writing of this article.