We've certainly had our worlds shift rapidly and unexpectedly. I've certainly recognized, more than ever before, the disparity among our learners as it relates to resource access. So, what does that mean moving forward when we get back to a new normal? How will you adjust your program? Will you? What are your take-aways from this experience? What do the lasting changes look like?
Great questions to ponder…..
What are your takeaways from this experience?”
---> All things considered, teachers and administrations have bonded together in getting the students continue with their education, whether through online or offline (independent work). The support teachers are getting from colleagues and teachers all over in each state is just wonderful. The continuous effort to support teachers is flowing.
The concern is more for the students. Some are facing layers of challenges given their situation. Some do not have sufficient resources (no laptop/computers, not enough online connection) in addition to day-to-day survival. It is tough. The ESL adult learners are mostly parents. Their kids are at home doing work remotely as well, so they need to divide their time in between. Not easy.
What do the lasting changes look like?
It is open-ended, but hopeful. In the long run, for students who are able to continue with schools will have acquired more computer literacy and skills. In addition, they get to know other ways of using what they already have, like using their mobiles phones to connect to their classmates and teachers. But it's not enough.
Moving forward....Hopefully, adult learning centers and literacy programs will get additional budget to provide students more online support through classes and workshops.
Thank you, Kathy, for introducing the discussion.
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Thanks for raising these important questions, Kathy -- and for weighing in Margaret. I think we are seeing both the benefits and the very real challenges of online learning for the field. It's clear that we are all putting our cell phones to use in ways that are helping to fill the gap. Cell phones are powerful tools, and many learners already know a lot about how to leverage their phones for different puproses. At the same time, we know that access to the internet is not as robust as it needs to be.
I want to share an article that challenged my thinking. This piece compares learning through cell phones versus laptop computers. As we consider equity, I think it would be wise to consider the issues discussed in this article "Why smartphones can’t fill the access gap in online learning" by Matt Zalaznick. This article reports on a study that showed that students who used computers showed greater learning gains than those who used cell phones. No doubt, we need more research on this relevant question.
As of now, I think we've made great strides in reaching learners through various tools, especially the cell phones many learners have and use routinely.
I think we are discovering new and exciting ways to reach out to learners. As far as moving forward, I am certain that we will find many more ways to integrate distance learning in the future. I'd love to hear what others are thinking about moving forward.
Susan Finn Miller
Moderator, English Language Acquisition and Teaching & Learning CoP