For those who don’t know, I am somewhat of a pioneer for online schooling. I began my career in virtual learning as a founding member of an online charter school in 2001. At that time, I had no clue how prevalent online learning would be in the future. In the early days of online learning, like many educators who made the switch during the pandemic, we had to fly the plane while we were building it. However, as I grew from my position as a teacher to an administrator, I realized just how vital creating plans, acquiring tools, and learning skills in virtual instruction were. We engaged in conversations with other online educators, read all the recent research, and tried our best to provide a learning environment that supported our students.
Differentiating The Online School
One major factor became apparent during that time, which took me nearly twenty years in the online learning industry to find: the virtual classroom cannot be operated the same as an in-person learning environment. From a teacher’s perspective, there is a level of required engagement and attention in the virtual classroom that the four walls of a school provide. Virtual teachers have to be bigger than their classroom, holding students accountable while providing them with a growth mindset. With limited communication and vigilance over your student, you have to be creative in your approach to teaching them, particularly bringing a level of understanding and compassion that is different from the traditional brick-and-mortar school.
From the administrator’s perspective, running an online school is vastly different than running a traditional school. Your communication with stakeholders and overall accountability to your teachers is more focused and microscopic. You have to be able to face the challenges of each student and each teacher with a set of tools that aren’t provided in an in-person experience.
Developing Your Virtual Toolkit
How can we learn these skills? How can we seize the opportunity to work with our fellow virtual educators and comprehensively assess the future? Professional development. EdisonLearning has compiled resources for online learning, including instructors with years of experience, research-based pedagogy, and curriculum planning to create two summer courses for educators.
Transforming Digital Classrooms for Student Success will be an interactive online course for middle and high school teachers. The course will be taught in a virtual synchronous and asynchronous format over 4 – 5 week cohorts of 15 – 30 teachers. This will allow for self-directed work (as teachers, we understand how important a free schedule during the summer can be). In addition to creating their plan for the 2022-2023 school year, participants will receive a Professional Development certificate and a badge from EdisonLearning upon successful completion.
Transforming Digital Learning for School Success, like the teacher focused PD course, will be a virtual synchronous and asynchronous format over 4 – 5 weeks for school and district administrators that will cover a variety of skill sets, including: building a solid foundation for the growth of digital learning, communicating skills, fostering a community of innovation, providing staff structures for personal and professional growth, and evaluating teachers in the digital learning classroom.
Our aim with these courses is to finally take a moment for educators to compile resources, speak with their peers, and create a plan of action for their schools. Our EdisonLearning virtual educators and administrators will lead these lessons to fit your schedule and help you create a plan for your next year of virtual instruction.
We want to meet the moment for online learning. We will need teachers and administrators prepared to run virtual schools and classrooms. Our summer PD is an opportunity to take a breath, realize where we are as an industry, and plan for the future with guided lessons and expert instructors. Develop your toolkit with EdisonLearning.