What will schools look like coming out of the current crisis? To spark that conversation, Professor Chris Dede and four faculty from other universities have launched the Silver Lining for Learning Initiative (SLL), a blog and series of webisodes that analyze the ground-up innovations coming directly out of classrooms all over the world in response to COVID-19.
While many schools are having to implement emergency remote learning plans, Dede observes that a “desperation” instructional format is not sustainable, as school closures may potentially extend into the upcoming school year. “We know that teaching by telling and learning by listening is a really weak form of learning,” Dede says. “We know effective learning involves learning by doing, collaboration, mentoring, and coaching.” Dede hopes that, if teachers share ideas, this crisis may generate new, more effective models of learning that disrupt the current models of both distance education and classroom instruction.
Here are some highlights Dede has observed through the initiative that may help educators manage the disruption to the current schooling model:
One of the problems the pandemic has unearthed has been that of technology and internet access. “If we look particularly at marginalized students — rural students, students from low socioeconomic backgrounds — the one device that the home is likely to have is a cell phone,” Dede says. “Social media are optimized for mobile devices — that’s their natural place. So creative teachers, instead of imposing an external medium, are taking the media kids and parents use anyway and starting dialogues in those media.”
- But take equity seriously. However, conversations around equity still need to happen. “Society has spent substantial resources attempting to ‘level the playing field’ in public education, but forced remote learning is now highlighting how inequitable the conditions and resources are in students’ homes,” Dede writes for the Learning Policy Institute. Instead, he imagines that personalized, blended learning (partially face-to -face and partially across distance) where each student gets what they need could provide a way forward, even once schools reopen.