The Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) released recommendations for K-12 school districts grappling with COVID-19 and the challenges associated with teaching at this time. “TCEA recommends that schools assess readiness for transitioning instructional activities online,” said TCEA Director of Governmental Relations Jennifer Bergland. “Assessing teaching staff’s knowledge of digital tools and then taking advantage of digital tool tutorials that solution providers offer can ease the stress school staff are experiencing.” Here are are some quick steps districts can take to organize and communicate with staff, parents, students, and the broader community:
● Create a website that shares critical information about the district’s efforts.
● Include a sample lesson that shows what content will be available for students and when it will be available.
● Make recommendations about internet bandwidth and devices for homes that lack access.
● Create a video of how to navigate online modules.
Given the suddenness of the transition to online learning, districts may want to establish an instructional website where they can release online teaching materials. This eases the strain of providing several weeks of lessons and activities at once. TCEA recommends the use of learning management systems such as Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, and/or Seesaw, to name a few possible choices available. A more complete list is available on the TCEA TechNotes blog. A number of companies are offering free resources, or temporary free access to resources or software platforms.
When choosing which tools to use and how, we encourage educators to pick one useful platform, give students, staff, and parents time to adjust to the new tool, and keep things as simple as practically possible. Districts should also set aside some days at the start of the virtual learning period to allow district content developers to organize lessons. Lessons should be short, bite-sized and age-appropriate. A printable version with embedded links of online resources should also be made available. Some tips to keep in mind:
1. Set up one way to communicate with parents.
2. Use your district’s learning management system to connect with students.
3. Offer virtual office hours for students and staff.
4. Put out a phone hotline.
5. Make sure videos and content are mobile-friendly. To jumpstart a school district’s online repository of lessons and digital tools,
TCEA.org has prepared some recommendations and compiled a list of digital tools. These include videos about the novel coronavirus. You can find these online at https://blog.tcea.org/tag/covid-19/.