The National Hockey League has partnered with EverFi to offer free distance learning curriculum as part of the league’s Future Goals Program. These self-contained programs can be easily added to existing lessons to offer students an interesting enrichment opportunity.
Dr. Courduff offers some advice and resources for supporting students with disabilities in the realm of distance learning.
Help! How can I teach and support my students with disabilities effectively from home?
Jennifer Courduff, Professor, Azusa Pacific University, @gamine64
You just never know how quickly the world might change. And for those of us in EdTech, moving over to online – synchronous or asynchronous – was not too daunting. That said, there are many for whom this change was not easy, at best, it was overwhelming. For those who teach in diverse learning situations or who work in the world of IEP meetings and/or planning for assistive technology accommodations, it’s even more overwhelming.
So, I will tell you what I tell my teachers. Take one day at a time. Breathe. Take advantage of your networks. Here are some really amazing resources for you to help you navigate the challenges you face and will continue to face for a while. Amazing stuff!
Quality indicators for assistive technology (QIAT). A terrific listserv. I am finding resources to send to my teachers multiple times a day.
Bridging apps. Wonderful resources and ideas for teachers, parents, and students.
Center for applied special technology (CAST).
Center for Accessible Technology (CAT)
NOTE: The ISTE Teacher Education Network published a monthly newsletter that is presented in the form of a Google doc with other forms available.
Below is an article from Gallaudet University regarding guidelines for Distance Learners. This document is intended for students and educators in higher education, but the principles may be adapted for K-12.
OSWD Policy: Accommodation for Distance Learners (FPD-130826) page 1 of 6
Gallaudet University OSWD Policy Guidelines: Accommodations for Distance Learners, for Students & Faculty
1. Statement on Accessibility to Distance Learning
Gallaudet University and its Office for Students with Disabilities (OSWD) is committed to providing a rich and comprehensive learning experience for all distance-learning students taking online courses from Gallaudet. The core of our policies for ensuring equal access is shared expectations between distance learners and faculty teaching online about how course material will be presented in a manner that is consistent and accessible to all our students.
OSWD is collaborating with students, faculty, and other Gallaudet departments in an ongoing process , to develop requirements for universally designed web courses that meet a reasonable and consistent level of accessibility. (See “Accessibility and the Law” below.) With such a standard in place, students and faculty alike share expectations about the accessibility of online course materials that facilitate a successful educational experience between student and faculty. These are the foundational expectations:
● Reasonable Prerequisites: The faculty can reasonably expect that a distance learner, about to take a course online, will have his/her own computer and internet connection, basic computer literacy, and essential assistive technology that already allows the student to use accessibly designed web sites.
● Students: The student can reasonably expect that an online course will be prepared and delivered in such a way that it meets a standard and consistent level of accessibility, known to the student before the course begins.
● Faculty: Faculty teaching an online course can reasonably expect that a student will be able to access and complete a course prepared and delivered in accord with the accessibility requirements.
3. Accommodations for Distance Learners
OSWD strives to implement accommodations for distance learners that are as consistent with those for resident students as possible. Policies and procedures found in the “OSWD Handbook for Students, Faculty, and Staff” (“HDBK” below; a copy is online at the Gallaudet website in the OSWD section under “General Information”) are the foundation from which we are developing procedures for distance learning, distance learners should refer to the relevant section of the handbook and follow those procedures.
● Disclosing Disabilities: Requests for accommodation from distance learners require the same level of disclosure as for resident students: the same disclosure forms be submitted and approved, following the same procedures, as for resident students. (HDBK Section 2.4)
● Intangible Accommodations: Non-material accommodations, such as extra time to complete assignments that can be made available to distance learners in substantially the same way that it can be offered to resident students, will be made. (HDBK, Section 2.6)
● eBooks, Braille texts, and Large-Print books: These accommodations, where the materials are required for a specific online course, will be offered to the distance learner using the same procedures used by resident students, although additional time will be required to deliver physical materials. (HDBK Section 2.7)
OSWD Policy: Accommodation for Distance Learners (FPD-130826) page 2 of 6
● Hardware and other Tangible Accommodations: Gallaudet cannot reasonably provide assistive hardware in the same way that it can to resident students. In some cases, however, assistive hardware may be available through an Assistive Hardware Lending Library. If it is available, arrangements may be made to loan hardware to a distance learner on a first-come, first-served basis. Standard OSWD procedures for disclosure, documentation, and requesting accommodation must still be followed.
● Human Assistants: Accommodations such as assistance from sign interpreters and note takers can be provided to resident students thanks to help from other resident students, but such accommodations are generally not available to distance learners.
4. Tips for Students
Is Distance Learning Right for You?
Many students with disabilities feel that studying online will be the solution to their accommodation needs. You may be considering online study for the same reasons. What you need to be aware of is that studying online solves some problems but may create new ones, which may need different accommodations. You should enroll in an online course only after you have taken the time to consider carefully the requirements of the course, along and your strengths and weaknesses.
Online study creates the need for accommodations that are different from those for traditional, in-class study, which makes determining which accommodations you wish to request a unique process. Your request should be based on a review of the functional limitations of your disability.
Disability affects each student differently, depending largely on your ability to compensate for its effects. Areas of difficulty may be:
● comprehending written instructions
● participating in online discussions
● viewing online video postings
● managing your time to complete assignments
● others unique to your situation.
All accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis with the information you provide to OSWD and the accommodations you have requested.
While the most requested accommodation is extended time for individual assignments, students do request others based on their needs. Accommodations can range from increased access to the instructor to follow-up communications to summarize and/or clarify information posted in the online course space. It depends on your unique disability and compensatory strategies.
To help decide whether online study and distance learning is right for you, ask yourself these questions:
● How well do I manage my time? The independent nature of online study requires a firm grasp on your ability to manage your time. You will be required to set a regular study schedule, keep track of assignments and due dates, as well as participate in online discussions. This may be more difficult without regular, in-person reminders from a faculty member. This requires discipline to ensure that the course is not forgotten in your day-to-day activities.
OSWD Policy: Accommodation for Distance Learners (FPD-130826) page 3 of 6
● Does my disability affect my ability to process and comprehend written information? For individuals with certain disabilities, managing the content, directions and discussion in an online course can be difficult. Information in an online course is frequently delivered via written material through a website. The instructor will not be immediately available to provide clarification for any misunderstood concepts or assignments.
● How comfortable am I with computers and technology? It is important to be aware of your current comfort level with technology and computers. Accessing all course information and instruction in an online format may be more intimidating and stressful than engaging in guided independent study. Knowing your comfort level with computers and technology will allow you to determine whether or not online study is for you.
● What do I expect of the online study? It’s important to be aware of your expectations of the online study. What kind of interaction are you expecting from the instructor? Are you expecting a lot of personal interaction or a little? Do you think that you will have a lot of writing to do or not as much? What information are you basing your expectations on? You should find out as much as possible about the format of the online study, the expectations the instructors have of you and what you need to do to successfully complete the course. The more information you learn about the study prior to enrolling and beginning it, the better you can determine if online study is for you.
Procedures for requesting accommodations are the same for distance learners as for resident students. Necessary forms can be submitted by mail or by FAX; at this time the University has no way to accept electronic signatures. Please refer to the “OSWD Handbook for Students, Faculty, and Staff” for details.
5. Tips for Faculty, Course Designers, and Implementers
The design of a distance-learning class affects the participation of students and instructors with various disabilities in various ways. Planning for access as the course is being developed is much easier than creating accommodation strategies once a person with a disability enrolls in the course or applies to teach it. Simple steps can be taken to assure that the course is universally accessible by design.
“Universal design” is defined by the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.” General goals include:
● the design is usable by people with diverse abilities;
● the design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities;
● the design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities; and
● the design can be used efficiently and comfortably, and with a minimum of fatigue.
Distance-learning courses are designed to reach out to students who may be located anywhere. If universal design principles are used in creating these classes, they will be accessible to all students who enroll in them. Designed correctly, distance-learning options create equal learning opportunities for all students; designed poorly, they erect new barriers to equal participation. Employing universal design principles can bring us closer to making learning accessible to anyone, anywhere, at any time. OSWD Policy: Accommodation for Distance Learners (FPD-130826) page 4 of 6
For questions related to Blackboard (Gallaudet’s online learning management system) and other issues related to presenting course online, the principal contact is Shannon Augustine, Manager, eLearning and Web Authoring, part of Gallaudet Technology Services, Earl Clayton Parks, Jr., Executive Director.
For questions concerning universal design and related issues in web-based courses, the principal contact is Cherisse Gardner, Coordinator, Instructional Design Services.
Some distance learning programs employ real-time chat communication in their courses. In this case, students communicate synchronously (at the same time), as compared to asynchronously (not necessarily at the same time). Besides providing scheduling challenges, synchronous communication is difficult or impossible for someone who cannot communicate quickly. For example, someone with a learning disability who takes a long time to compose her thoughts or someone whose input method is slow may not be fully included in the discussion. In addition, some chat software erects barriers for individuals who are deaf-blind or have low vision. Instructors who choose to use chat for small-group interaction should select chat software that is accessible to those using screen readers and plan for an alternate method of communication (e.g., email) when not all students in a group can fully participate using chat.
Text-based, asynchronous resources such as electronic mail, bulletin boards, and listserv distribution lists generally erect no special barriers. Email communication between individual students, course administration staff, the instructor, guest speakers, and other students is largely accessible to all parties, regardless of disability.
Applying universal design principles makes web pages accessible to individuals with a wide range of disabilities. In 1999, broad guidelines for making web pages accessible were developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). More recently, the United States Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) developed accessibility standards for web pages of Federal agencies, as mandated by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998. The standards provide a model for other organizations working to make their web pages accessible to the broadest audience.
There are basically two approaches for making web page content and navigation accessible. Certain types of inaccessible data and features need to be avoided, or alternative methods need to be provided for carrying out the function or accessing the content provided through an inaccessible feature or format. For example, a distance-learning designer can avoid using a graphic that is inaccessible to individuals who are blind, or he can create a text description of the content that is accessible to text-to-speech software.
Web pages for a distance learning class should be tested with a variety of monitors, computer platforms, and web browsers, including a text-only browser, such as Lynx, or a standard browser with the graphics and sound-loading features turned off (to simulate the experiences of people with sensory impairments). Testing to see if all functions at a website can be accessed using a keyboard alone is also a good accessibility test.
Video Interface on the Web
Gallaudet University’s online learning-management system, “Blackboard”, has been updated to include visual communication as a built-in feature, making it Section-508 compliant. The software enhancement OSWD Policy: Accommodation for Distance Learners (FPD-130826) page 5 of 6
now supports computer webcams so that video communication and responses may now be used where previously only text-based communication was possible.
Students who are deaf-blind, have low vision, or who have specific learning disabilities that affect their ability to read may require that printed materials be converted into Braille, large print, or eBook formats. Making the content of printed materials available in an accessible web-based format may provide the best solution for students who cannot read standard printed materials.
Printed materials may be prepared and distributed by OSWD to distance learners following the same procedures as for resident students, although additional lead time will be necessary to reach off-campus locations.
6. Accessibility and the Law
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 mandates that no otherwise qualified individuals shall, solely by reason of their disabilities, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in public programs. The ADA does not specifically mention online courses, but the United States Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights have clarified that the ADA applies to Internet-based programs and services.
A recent settlement agreement between the Department of Justice and Louisiana Tech University (2013) mandates that, in post-secondary education:
…all technology, including websites, instructional materials and online courses, and other electronic and information technology for use by students or prospective students, is accessible.
Further, the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Education clarified in an earlier agreement (also 2013) with the South Carolina Technical College System:
“‘Accessible’ means a person with a disability is afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability in an equally effective and equally integrated manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use. The person with a disability must be able to obtain the information as fully, equally and independently as a person without a disability. Although this might not result in identical ease of use compared to that of persons without disabilities, it still must ensure equal opportunity to the educational benefits and opportunities afforded by the technology and equal treatment in the use of such technology.”
Settlement Agreement between the United States of America, Louisiana Tech University, and the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System under the Americans with Disabilities Act, US Department of Justice document number 204-33-116, 23 July 2013; http://www.ada.gov/louisiana-tech.htm . OSWD Policy: Accommodation for Distance Learners (FPD-130826) page 6 of 6
Resolution Agreement : South Carolina Technical College System OCR [Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights] Compliance Review No. 11-11-6002, US Department of Education, 28 February 2013; http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/investigations/11116002-b.pdf .
“Accommodations for Online Courses”, © 2013 Empire State College; http://www.esc.edu/disability-services/student-handbook/accommodations-overview/online-courses/
Some material adapted from “Distance Learning”, by Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D., © 2002—2013 DO-IT, University of Washington; used by permission.
Special Education has not been a stranger to the advent of online learning, a few resources may prove helpful to those in this area. BridgingApps is an organization from Easter Seals of Greater Houston. This organization offers therapeutic and educational tools for parents and teachers to use with mobile devices. These digital tools are aimed at helping children and adults with disabilities develop physically and cognitively.
The following is from BridgingApps. This resource helps guide caregivers and teachers in the safe application of internet-based tools. Amy Fuchs provides the following excellent advice on the safe use of devices.
March 23, 2020By Amy Fuchs
During this unusual time in our world, we are all learning how to adapt to the “new normal”. For many families this means parents figuring out how to work remotely while also trying to learn to “homeschool” children with and without disabilities, who will not be entering school buildings for the foreseeable future. There are also many young adults and adults with disabilities whose day programs, apprenticeships, and group social activities are cancelled and caregivers are busier than ever. We, at BridgingApps, thought we could offer some help to parents and caregivers who are confronting more screen time than usual out of necessity, but still want to keep their kids and loved ones safe while they are online.
Did you know that Apple devices have many built-in settings that allow parents and caregivers to apply safety features and restrictions to their children’s and loved one’s devices? No special app to buy and figure out, just hidden in that amazing “settings” icon right on your device! Let’s explore the features and talk about how to personalize the settings for your family’s needs.
After opening the “settings” app, look for “screen time” on the left side of the menu. The first step is to click “turn on screen time”. This is confusing for some people because they think of “screen time” as time limits and it is, but for Apple devices, the content restrictions that will keep loved ones safe online are also under “screen time”. Once you have created a screen time passcode (pick something different from the device passcode so that your children cannot access these settings), there are many different ways that you can limit the types of content that can be accessed.
Here are just some examples what you can do in these settings:
- Set limits on ratings for podcasts, movies, TV shows, books, apps, and music (PG, PG-13, Explicit lyrics or not, etc.)
- Limit adult content on websites and even pick certain websites that are blocked or allowed regardless of rating
- Control if they are allowed to play multiplayer games, add friends, and screen record games
- Block location services from being used and choose which device settings the user is allowed to change without permission
- Set time limits for how long certain apps are allowed to be accessed each day
These settings take a little time to personalize, however the good news is that once you have chosen these settings, the device saves them and allows you to share the settings across other devices signed into the same Apple ID, set up screen time for the family, and even turn off screen time when needed without changing the settings you have made.
We have created a PDF with screenshots that explains the various settings to help you get started. Stay tuned for more tips and tricks from BridgingApps!
If you would like more information: https://www.bridgingapps.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Apple-Restrictions.pdfKelly FonnerEducational/Assistive Technology Consultant
phone: 262-613-3412website: www.kellyfonner.comtwitter: @kellyfonnerCommunication Matrix facilitator/coach: https://www.communicationmatrix.org/DonJohnston Readtopia& First Author trainer/coach: http://donjohnston.com/onsite-workshops/N2Y Trainer: https://store.n2y.com/store/TrainingPODD Certified Presenter: https://www.PODDUSA.com
Online Strategies for Students with Disabilities
The DO-IT center provides guidance on specific strategies for those with learning disabilities to follow as they make the shift to online or distance learning.
The present reality for K-12 schools largely includes the active engagement of digital learning tools on a grand scale.
The 2019 Horizon Report published by Educause presented this step as a solvable concern for higher ed. This objective was to be met in 2020. It is safe to say that by mid-2020, much of the K-12 universe is deeply involved in resolving issues surrounding this objective.
Although it is a year old at this point, it still bears a close look by educators at all levels.
In the age of Covid-19, Distance Learning has become the norm for all students. Teachers, students, administrators, and parents all face unique challenges in the process. In an effort to help, the following is a quick list of resources that are available for educators. Many of these tools are time-tested. Some are relatively new. Whatever the age of the tool, educators have been pleasantly surprised to see the speed at which each of these are being improved.
A few notes for the teacher
Let’s say this right up front: None of us bargained for this. Yet, here we are. This is an alien landscape for many seasoned teachers. For others, technology is an infrequent visitor to their brick-and-mortar classroom. Whatever the situation, most teachers can pick up a new idea or tool to use with their students in this new landscape. But before you latch on to a shiny new technology resource it is helpful to take stock of the situation in which we find ourselves.
Brick-and-Mortar vs Distance Education
It’s easy to say that Brick-and-Mortar vs Distance education are different. But they are. Ideally, before you launch into your distance education program, but even early into the process, it is important to consider the differences between the two platforms. The typical classroom offers students a rich environment that is full of opportunities for enrichment and interaction with peers and teachers. This interaction helps quickly address misconceptions and redirect students’ understanding of course objectives. This environment also allows the teacher to quickly pivot to reenforce or re-teach material to meet student needs.
While the digital environment does provide opportunities for teacher feedback through discussion boards, email, and synchronous classes, there are limitations associated with distance learning. The spontaneous meeting between teachers and students is difficult to replicate in digital form.
Even in the most technology-rich brick-and-mortar school, students and teachers face similar challenges in launching a Distance Learning program. Consider the household with four children and two parents now working form home. Bandwidth and the number of devices are just two of the imitations both teachers and students could face. Those living in smaller spaces will find that “getting away” to record video lectures or even conduct live classes can represent a herculean achievement. These are just a few of the challenges that add additional layers of complexity to the most mundane class assignment. These are the kind of challenges that simply do not exist in your classroom.
Philosophy of Distance Learning
To ameliorate the impact of these confounders, teachers need to consider their own ideas about how all of this is supposed to work. A staple of any teacher preparation program is the development of one’s own unique philosophy of education. This statement of principle guides the teacher in their instruction by providing a touchstone to which everything the teacher does connects. It also addresses the needs of the student and how stakeholders should interact with instructional content and each other. The Journal of Educational Research (2014) provides a good example for teachers to follow. Loma Linda University (2020) provides a more conceptual framework for consideration.
The simple act of considering these important elements and how they will function in the new course design can be transformative. Simply put, the digital classroom is a very different landscape that requires a new set of ideas to guide the teacher through the challenges ahead.
About the work
In the digital landscape, students and teachers both face new challenges just completing the most basic course work. This added layer of complexity means that the teacher needs to start slowly. Allow your class to figure things out. This is particularly true if the students have never used the resource(s) that you are now asking them to engage. Enthusiasm is an easy trap for any teacher to fall into. Wanting to replicate everything that is offered in my classroom is attractive. After all, as a devoted teacher, I want to continue to drive my students toward the same volume and outcomes. In reality, what works best in this environment that encourages exploration by the student where the course outcomes remain the same as they were last month, but instruction and assignments must be different.
Students don’t have the teacher there to practice proximity control and redirect students toward content. Because of this lectures need to be kept short, ideally guiding students toward content to explore and then demonstrate their understanding in some form.
Creating assessments is another big difference between the traditional classroom and the distance learning environment. An easy rule of thumb is that if the answer to the question can be Googled, it is the wrong question. Students have technology and they know how to use it. This is particularly true for upper grades. So, multiple-choice questions should be used sparingly. That leaves us with essay questions, but even these can be poorly crafted. Teachers have to remember that the role of any assessment is to gauge student understanding.
Project based assessments are a great way to measure student grasp of course concepts. Otherwise, create questions that challenge the student to express their understanding and perhaps provide a reflective note to individualize responses. The addition of a personal reflection in their writing makes the student incorporate their own “fingerprints” to their submissions. If you are still suspicious of your students’ work, you could consider allowing them to work in groups to complete projects.
I always advise teachers to take things easy at first. Just try one new thing for now. Later you can always expand what you do as your comfort level increases. Remember if it is new to you, it is likely new to many of your students. If you are like the rest of us, it’s a sure bet that your administration is making you drink from a firehose with all of the new administrative tasks you must now master. Give yourself the gift of simplicity. Your students will thank you and you will find you have a bit more of your sanity left at the end of each day.
The Flipped Classroom is a concept that is being considered and used, often for the first time lately. Online resources are available for educators to become more proficient in this new style of content delivery.
Look it over and let the conversation begin! What works for you, how are you using these tools? What did you find helpful? What challenges did you find?
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) provides the starting point for all educators using technology. ISTE has published a set of clear, easily accessed standards for the use of technology in education. individual standards are directed at the needs of students, educators, and educational leaders.
Common Sense Education provides their top picks for distance education. Highlights include: Flipgrid which allows students and teachers to discuss content, Seesaw which provides a steady platform for audiovisual journaling, and Screencast-o-matic which allows for easy screen capture and video creation for the delivery of class content.
Common sense also provides information for parents and advocates. Parents will find apps and video reviews for current titles. Advocates will find resources and guidance on equity and digital privacy among other themes.
The Copyright Clearance Center provides a fairly lengthy list of resources for Distance Learning.
WeAreTeachers.com also provides a list of 190 free resources for teachers and parents. These resources are further broken down into school levels to help you more readily find appropriate resources for your student(s).
Google offers ideas for using G Suite, Chrome, Hangouts and more in your Distance Learning plan. There is also training on how to build interactive lessons using Google products.
The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) provides a number of ideas to use in the teaching of English and related subjects, but some of these resources can be easily adapted for use far beyond English class.
Albert offers subject-specific activities for all ages. Math, science, reading, writing, social studies, world languages, computer science, music, as well as collaborative tools, presentation, and assessment applications.
Teachers First offers a set of well-designed resources for instruction. These Classroom Resources cover a wide variety of subjects across the K-12 curriculum. are primarily aimed at the elementary classroom, there are a number of quality items for upper school teachers as well. Once navigated to the Classroom Resources tab, teachers may chose from elementary, middle school, or high school courses. Each resource is rated for specific grade ranges.
TechAgainstCoronaVirus provides perhaps the most comprehensive list of tools. This crowd sourced list is constantly growing. It will certainly be the go-to resource for Distance Learning teachers.
The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) provides information about less traditional educational courses, but the best part of this site are the sections titled “General Online / Distance Learning Guides and Tips,” “General Ed Tech Tools,” and “Federal Guidance.” This last section may be particularly helpful as a reference for Distance Learning for teachers of students with learning disabilities.
A number of resources stand bear a good second look…
For one-stop solutions, many educators will gravitate toward the G Suite tools. This set of applications provides Google Classroom for a quick LMS allowing for assignments and submissions, Hangouts which provides a means of connection with students, and the plethora of additional tools like Google Docs, which, if you have not used lately has creeped ever closely to the model of MS Word. Google offers a variety of tools for the student and teacher.
Google Sites gives students a good platform for submitting presentations and work for peer review. Used as an extension of the classroom, students are given a space to post and review durable learning objects for their courses. Ease of use makes this a winner for the 21st Century classroom long after social distancing ends. The ease of use and utility of the educational tools developed by Google have made them a favorite of teachers. Check it out…You may find that there are tools beyond your expectations.
NearPod allows teachers to transform Power Point presentations into interactive instructional tools. Presentations may be either synchronous or asynchronous. Simply upload a completed slideshow and insert formative assessment questions. It’s that easy. NearPod allows for use of video and websites in the presentation.
NearPod users love this tool. Here is one teacher’s review:
Nearpod: the perfect tool for Hybrid learning during Distant Learning
By Sharon Low
NearPod, a student engagement platform has been my “go to” tool in my classroom on a regular basis because it facilitates active engagement on behalf of my students. NearPod has made it easy to allow for a “complete package of learning”, within one tool. Instead of simply “presenting” to my students through a slideshow, I am able to interact with my students with polls, open ended questions, quizzes, and a collaboration board. I am able to provide differentiation for my students through an immersive reader, videos, the draw it feature; encourage collaboration; stimulate research by accessing the web; boost higher order thinking and creativity; and even gamify my lessons with a fun Time to Climb game. I am able to “app smash” and integrate Google Docs, Flipgrid, EdPuzzle, and many other apps into one NearPod lesson. I love hearing my students’ tapping away on their Chromebooks as they are engaging in an open-ended question, knowing that I have 100% participation by my class. Those quiet students who would never participate freely, have been given the opportunity of having their voice heard, without the fear of having to speak aloud. I am able to correct misconceptions, redirect learning, teach to those teachable moments, by incorporating an “on the fly” question or activity.
NearPod was my “go to” tool every time I was absent from the classroom. With the student paced lesson, I was able to ensure that my students would receive the lesson that was planned for the day. The student paced lessons also provided the opportunity for my absent students to make up the work and learn the concepts covered in class.
But, how would NearPod function in distance learning? At first, I believed NearPod would only provide for asynchronous learning by assigning my students a student paced code to a lesson they would complete on their own.
Would NearPod work through the “Live Lesson” mode and allow us to have synchronous learning while in our Google hangouts class? It did! It worked perfectly! In our Google hangouts class, I provided my students with an access code to a Live NearPod lesson, and continued on with learning, as if we were actually in our classroom! Instead of viewing a presentation from my screen, the students had the presentation right on their device. Through NearPod, I was able to make the lesson as engaging, as if in the classroom by incorporating open-ended questions, polls, quizzes, matching pairs, fill-in the blanks, and draw-its. These activities provided immediate assessment of my students’ understanding of the concepts being discussed. They opened up the opportunity for further discussion, verbally, in our Google hangout classroom.
With NearPod I have been able to have my students collaborate with each other as they complete a Collaborate board. They have been able to watch assigned videos, access the web for research right from the NearPod lesson, and respond through Open-ended questions, quizzes, Collaborate, and Draw it. The students have been able to enjoy gamification with Time to Climb and a matching game. The new Immersive reader for many of the activities, and the Audio submissions for open-ended questions facilitates learning for my ELA students. NearPod provides timers on many of the activities which aid with the flow of the lesson, especially when you can’t simply tap a student’s shoulder to encourage him/her to complete the work.
I can’t wait to use NearPod for more synchronous learning while we do distant learning. My students will go on Virtual field trips all over the world. They will be able to manipulate 3-D items, and work through PhET simulations. They will have access to Flocabulary, Flipgrid, SWAY, and Google docs, all through one portal- NearPod. NearPod provides me reports with the students’ performance, which I can then use to provide immediate feedback to parents and administration.
NearPod, therefore, actually provides for Hybrid learning during our distant learning. It can be used for synchronous learning by providing the students the code to a live lesson while in Google hangouts (or Zoom), and it works well for asynchronous learning by providing the students the code to a student-paced lesson. NearPod is the perfect tool for distance learning!
Brain pop is an interactive website with animated video content for all subject areas. This is a tool suitable for K-12. Setting up a class account allows teachers to assign video quizzes and other activities for assessment. World language teachers will find this a great tool for their intermediate and advanced students as the videos are available in a number of languages.
EdPuzzle is another great tool for educators. Content is limited to 1GB, but keeping content pithy is a hallmark of good online pedagogy. EdPuzzle allows teachers to inject short videos with formative assessment questions. As student progress through the video and answer questions, EdPuzzle generates a grade book for that lesson. Upload your own video lesson and insert questions or use the archives. Educators will find thousands of pre-made lessons on a wide variety of subjects suitable for all grade levels. This online tool provides a level of technical polish for even the most technologically timid teacher.
Kahoot! has been described as an online quiz game platform. It works at a distance the same way it does in the classroom. Teachers create the questions or use one that already exists, then they share the join code with their class. Each quiz may take several forms. Setting up your own quizzes allows students to compete against each other. Students love the competition and it really helps sharpen skills.
Screencastify is a Google Chrome extension that allows the user to record screencasts. This tutorial gives a good overview of the functions of the tool. This program is a good means of delivering lecture using your slideshow. The completed video is easily shared as a link for students to use. While the free version offers limited video length, Educators may now upgrade to unlimited with the access code: CAST_COVID
The California Department of Education has amassed a list of curriculum resources for teachers to use. This list includes free resources from publishers and other sources.
Theory and Background
Researchers at the University of Florida compiled a good overview of the theory guiding Distance Learning.