How screen sharing technology can transform any learning environment
By Rachel Prince
It’s no secret that the world is not what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. March 2020 was a watershed moment for families, businesses, and schools, and no one came out unscathed. Children were particularly affected. The medical field is only beginning to realize the long-term effects of COVID-19 on children’s health, including headaches, fatigue, fever, persistent cough, sleep problems, anxiety and even depression. Additionally, teachers are discovering that this generation of “COVID kids” have undergone a cataclysmic shift in their education, most dramatically those students who have experienced fragmented schooling for crucial years. It will likely take years to fully assess the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Consider this: A child who lost the last term of their kindergarten year, then had to go through piecemeal schooling for first and second grades, now faces that crucial grade-level reading standard when they start third grade. year. A student who had just finished sixth grade when schools closed missed all of his in-person education through college and is now starting his first year with virtually no academic or social experience in junior high. A current high school girl could very well be attending her freshman year in an actual school building after she abruptly left it at the end of her freshman year. The lingering academic effects of the pandemic are just as important to students as the medical effects.
We educators had our work cut out for Spring 2020; we rose to the challenge and found ways to communicate with our children no matter where they were. Almost every tool we normally used to reach our students was wiped off the table – we found ourselves in complete upheaval. Left with no choice but to use whatever we have, we dug deep into our resources to help our students (and ourselves) survive remote learning. Amazingly, what we did served our purposes not only for the duration of distance learning, but changed our classroom practices for the better now that students are back in class.
Are we back to “normal”? No, and we may never be. But this new normal can be a blessing in disguise. The pandemic has shaken us teachers out of our complacency, forcing us to find new (and better) ways to communicate with our students no matter where they are, and these new skills can make our post-pandemic teaching even more effective than it was before closing. .
Remote learning has taught us to increase the size of our classrooms beyond four walls. With students moving in and out of the classroom (oh, contact tracing), we needed to keep these kids engaged, motivated, and learning at all times. The existing paradigm of a learning environment has changed, creating an exponentially larger classroom than ever before; exploring what educational technology had to offer became an absolute necessity.
The professional world had already taken action in virtual meetings and working from home, so teachers took a page from his book to figure out how to make that work for students. A particularly useful tool came from ShowNote. When we were all quarantined at home (students and teachers), we used DisplayNote’s Montage app to stay connected. Using this app, children could connect to classroom content via any device – a crucial feature as students who did not have school-provided laptops often had to use phones or computers personal, so teachers needed a path that didn’t rely on any specific hardware. .
Although the two years of primarily distance student learning are (hopefully) over, the benefits of what we have learned are here to stay. As children return to the classroom, they need teachers more than ever who can help them relearn social and interactive skills. The educational technology we used during the pandemic is just as useful in a physical classroom:
- Students who have been isolated from their peer groups may become increasingly anxious about reintegrating into school. Apps and other on-screen tools can help students engage through a screen, even while sitting in the room with other students. Students can benefit from sharing their work from their screen, streamed to the teacher’s screen, rather than standing in front of the class. This type of social scaffolding can help shy students regain confidence in a large group.
- Since the previously mentioned health issues are not expected to go away any time soon, teachers will see more frequent student absences than before 2020. Students want to to stay engaged, so the use of virtual meetings and educational connectivity is as valuable now as it was for the two-year shutdown.
- Teachers are also affected by residual health issues and often have to absent themselves from class as a precaution. Now that we can connect with our students virtually, we can use the same apps and other tools to work with our students, even if we have to temporarily quarantine ourselves.
- Teachers can now make even more use of educational technology tools that allow them to share best practices with colleagues and supervisors without needing to be in the same room (or even the same building). With an abundance of new teachers entering the classroom, veteran teachers are called upon to mentor and share ideas. We all benefit from new methods of sharing lessons and activities that really work.
The world has changed. Schools have changed. But change is often something not to be feared; it should be adopted. Many teachers have found that the changes brought on by the pandemic are ones that are long overdue. May we never again have to experience the devastation of a global pandemic, but may we remain grateful for how it has taught us to be better educators than we ever thought we could be.
A 30-year veteran of the public school system, Rachel Prince teaches English at Horizon High School in Scottsdale, Arizona. She has taken an active leadership role at Horizon High School in the areas of accreditation, curriculum development, department chair, and technology implementation. .