You can’t tell what’s going to happen but it looks like many schools may experience some closures over the next few weeks or months, and so folks are considering how you can have students continue to learn while at home. I’m actually on March Break — and I’m catching up on my blog posting — so I thought I’d lend my expertise to this. Here comes a whole series on #remotelearning.
The Bar: students will need internet; really there’s no way around that without turning to paper and that has its own issues. But, so long as they have a smartphone, they can access your content, learn from it, share their learn, engage in discussions, receive feedback from you and others. How do I know that? Because of observations made around the world with student learning with devices. Is it the best case? No… but this isn’t a time to whine about not having a limo when you want to get to A & B.
I’d start by being proactive in getting ANY smartphone to a student — it doesn’t need a sim card so long as they have access to wifi, and again, that’s something that folks should begin to be proactive about. Look to Facebook, Kijiji, Craiglist and find used, older smartphones where you can just use wifi. Talk around the school; talk to other schools. Talk to the local private schools. Check out your school’s lost&found. Talk to the police; where do they put their turned-in phones? Be creative. My credo has always been Aut inveniam viam, aut faciam — I shall either find a way, or make one. And remember that smartphones are only one option — iPads, Chromebooks, Android tablets, Win10 laptops, heck even Win7/8 laptops. Desktops — students around the world are still using Windows XP and so can yours. It means they have to tie into their router but again, hopefully you have time to set & check this up. Anything they can use a browser on. Get them set up BEFORE your school closes, if possible, so students can test and try and learn using the device.
Any device ABOVE a smartphone is (usually) better. We really do want to have access to a picture-creating device. But when I discuss something in forthcoming blogs, I’ll assume they have at least the capabilities of a smartphone — everything else is ICING.
If you get brave, call in someone do use older laptops and re-install them with Linux. At least, students have to be able to get to a browser, so refresh the laptops with Linux, autoboot with a browser and let them go from there. Andrew Dobbie from Ontario, Canada, is a model for this. (Link)
More than 95% have some form of wifi access at home (link) but how do teachers, parents and students fill in for the missing 5% — there will be a blog post about that later. Your ideas, of course, are welcome in the comments.
My apologies for following off the blogging wagon last month; I fell sick myself. And in an odd turn, I got better just as vacation was starting, instead of the other way around.