It would be an understatement to say that the current global Pandemic has changed things education – as COVID-19 has fundamentally changed our lives in most – if not every capacity. From the way that we shop, conduct ourselves in public, access basic services, relate to our friends and family – and for teachers, the way in which we deliver educational experiences.
Educational Technology was the first thing on my mind (as I am sure it was with many teachers) as I left my school during the second week of March. Driving away from my school’s parking lot with absolutely no idea what lay ahead was stressful and frightening, but as usual my teacher brain skipped way ahead – attempting to think of solutions and options should we not return to our building any time soon.
This of course was immediately overtaken by the reality that it was far more important to ensure that our students and their families were safe, secure, and cared for with access to the most basic necessities. Those first few weeks that consisted of the “educational pause” then our new work-from-home reality truly showed that our schools are far more than just a building where learning happens. Educational technology was pushed far from my mind because choosing the right learning management system does not seem important when you are spending 6-8 hours a day on the phone with families who are struggling to keep it together in the face of a public health crisis.
When the time came to connect with my students again for learning experiences, I was not immediately stressed. I am fortunate within my school division to be a Connected Educator. The Connected Educator Program at Regina Catholic Schools exists as a program in which participating teachers are encouraged to utilize educational technology in their classrooms in a way that is “transformative” by improving upon their pedagogy of teaching – and in order to do that teachers in this program and their students have access to technology in their classrooms everyday.
As a part of this program my students each have access to a device in our classroom in which they use to log into our main learning management system: Seesaw. In our classroom we utilize Seesaw for our Daily Agenda (The Journal Function) learning opportunities and reflections (Activities) and writing for an audience (Blogs). Student’s are proficient at using it and I knew that it would be easiest for my kids to access from home.
I will be the first to admit that I jumped into remote teaching as though it were Online Learning. I had multi-layer, multi-step, app smashing, coding, virtual field trip type activities prepped and ready to go for that very first Monday. Then the reality of what teaching and learning remotely is truly like hit me full force. A reality check. The realization that this improvised system of supplemental learning is not Online Learning in it’s true sense. I have experienced online learning as a graduate student, and as an adult and I know that what my students are doing right now is not that – nor should I be expecting my students to be doing “transformative” types of things with the technology in their homes right now.
I have since adjusted, taking to meeting with my students synchronously a few times a week – not necessarily for live lessons but rather as a check in for maintaining those relationships I worked to tirelessly to build for the first six months of the school year. Discussing our learning topics, taking in their suggestions for the future, and just enjoying the opportunity to enjoy the feeling of togetherness that is so much more rare these days.
I have scaled down my lessons online, and below I have included all the applications I used in conjunction with Seesaw that I have found engage my students, and provide me with some measure of formative assessment from afar. These are the apps my students and I engage with daily that are helping us survive this remote learning experience – and practice the skills they already have.
Run your mouse over the slide and click the links if you want to check out any of the sites for yourself!
In addition to the educational technology that feels as though it has taken over my life these last 8 weeks, I have also noticed a marked difference in the amount of time I spend utilizing personal technology while at home. Although I am still using all of the same apps – my screen time is almost doubled. It turns out the time I previously might have spent driving, shopping, or socializing is easily dominated by TikTok, Pinterest and Instagram. This week Amanda tweeted about her app count for the day as her research for her blog – and when I read the following tweet I totally surprised and intrigued.
I counted my apps and I was nearly at 20 also – and while I find my screen time to horrifying to share – let me tell you: it was something to behold. I wish that like my daily life with remote teaching that I have been learning new things, taking risks and using apps that challenge me – I’ll be honest it’s just a whole lot of social media and then podcasts as escapism.
Below is an interpretation of my daily app use – and also just another product of my technological procrastination.
What does a day in your life look like when it comes to technology in this “new normal”?