As more and more schools begin to close as a precautionary measure due to novel coronavirus (COVID-19), administrators, teachers, and parents are grappling with how best to continue student learning at home.
School community members should consider five key factors when selecting the best solutions to meet this unexpected challenge:
- Web-based access from a wide range of devices
- Resources for parent engagement
- Educator communication and real-time alerts
- Extensive reporting to maintain accountability
- Easily accessible Customer Service
1. Web-Based Access from a Variety of Devices
A web-based platform is a baseline requirement for students to use an edtech program remotely. In addition, students need individual logins and accounts enabling regular, assigned learning anywhere.
Compatibility across a wide range of devices is critical. While some students may have access to school-provided devices, students at home may access instructional programs from tablets, iPads, laptops, and desktop computers with Internet access. Mobile devices are also an effective tool, especially if the program can be accessed using cellular data to support students with limited Internet access.
Parents are an integral part of any educational community. As an increasing number of schools close temporarily, working parents face significant challenges. Some parents will be working at home and supervising their children during typical work hours.
Providing a letter to parents is an important way to share information about how families can best make the transition to productive at-home learning. Effective edtech programs also have built-in parent portals to explain the features of the product. Parents should be able to easily see and understand their children’s assignments and progress in the program.
Reading Plus Parent/Student Letter
3. Educator Communication and Real-Time Alerts
Communication tools are critical in lieu of in-person time together for effective remote learning. Without the benefit of seeing students every day, it can be difficult for teachers to keep track of who is having success and who may need additional support. Built-in messaging tools enable teachers to communicate directly with an individual student or a whole class.
Some schools use online learning management systems (LMSs) to share information. A built-in messaging tool between teacher and student is a crucial element of any edtech program, whether it is a standalone program or managed through an LMS.
Teachers can congratulate students for good work in order to keep their motivation high—a critical part of any classroom. Real-time alerts and notifications within the program identify and “flag” students who may need specific attention and support.
Reading Plus Alerts in the Educator Management System
4. Extensive Reporting to Maintain Accountability
For remote learning, online reporting and easy-to-read snapshots of student progress are more important than ever. When teaching from home, educators can’t rely on in-person oversight and paper-and-pencil record keeping. Educators need an efficient and effective way to check students' completed work as they work from home.
Make sure that programs you consider feature a teacher dashboard that includes everything a teacher needs to know at a glance. Teachers should be able to see who is doing his or her work, who is not, and who needs additional support or remediation. In a virtual classroom, teachers need useful tools to make it easier to keep tabs on student progress.
Reading Plus Assignments Panel
5. Easily Accessible Customer Service
With students learning at home, they no longer have the support of a teacher in the classroom or a school technology aide to field immediate questions. An edtech partner’s customer service should be able to answer questions that may occur during learning, not only technical or access problems. Quickly responsive customer service is key to student success and should be available through multiple channels and an inclusive range of hours. Parents and students should be able to communicate through their preferred platforms, including phone, email, and instant messaging (chat) options with a real support person.
During this difficult time, it’s more important than ever to have programs you can rely on that enable students to continue learning at home and which respect parents’ time and empower them to support student learning. Nothing can replace a good teacher, but an effective edtech platform can ease the transition to remote learning.
Our hearts go out to all those who have been impacted by the spread of the coronavirus across our school communities. If you’d like to learn more about Reading Plus and how we’re supporting schools during this time, please contact us below.