Distance Learning Resources

IMG_0067.jpegIn 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.

One Step-at-a-Time

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.

Flipping Out

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.


Failed implementation of digital/computer science education points to a gap in continuing education among technology teachers.

ACM CSTA concept

In their report concerning the failure of states to provide adequate computer science instruction at both the K-12 and university level, Lewis (Education Week, June 16, 2016) cites the patchwork of implementation and results of computer science instruction nationwide.

Research needs to be conducted on instructor efficacy and date and level of training.  Correlational analysis may be helpful in encouraging more continuing education in technology.

After all, computer science skills obtained in 2004 will likely prove to be of limited benefit to the students of 2017 and beyond.  Not only has technology shifted, but areas of demand for both students and employers have also shifted.

As with most specialty arenas, teachers in this critical area must keep current.

Here is the link…


The Mobile Revolution and Instructional Transformation


Kim (2016) provides food for thought on the continued trend toward mobile learning tools and the waning influence of laptop-based learning models.  Many of the early objections and obstacles to the inclusion of mobile learning tools in daily instruction.  With the removal of these impediments, educators are beginning to discover the benefits of instruction with mobile tools and techniques.



Kim, J. (2016). Three theories why we are intrigued with mobile learning. Inside Higher Education. https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/technology-and-learning/3-theories-why-we-are-intrigued-mobile-learning

Using Technology as a Collaborative tool in the SPED Classroom


It is well understood that the use of technology in the GENED classroom enhances the educational experience by building efficiency into the process.  The effective use of technology in education provides the student with enhanced opportunities for collaboration,  communication and information gathering.

It has long been noted that the effective use of technology in education has the potential to reach far beyond the four walls of the classroom in order to  engage the student with a broader spectrum of resources and experiences, thus deepening their understanding of course objectives.

Meyer (2016) highlights the benefits of a technology event that linked SPED students around the globe.


Meyer, L. (2016). Five ways teachers are opening up the world to special education through technology. THE Journal. https://thejournal.com/Articles/2016/05/11/5-Ways-Teachers-Are-Opening-Up-the-World-to-Special-Education-Through-Technology.aspx?



As I look ahead to the intensive on campus, I am curious to learn how deep and wide the digital learning environment actually is.  I am always looking for new ways to engage technology in the teaching and learning process.  Pedagogy is tied to societal trends.  As students and teachers adopt more and more devices and tools in their personal lives, ripples from these changes are having an impact on how we do what we do in the classroom.  Looking at the impact of new technology and techniques on K-12 classroom instruction is a central component to what I plan on pursuing in my dissertation.

To remain relevant, teachers need to keep up with trends and be willing to adopt new tools and techniques as they present themselves. This doesn’t mean that the classroom teacher needs to be an expert on every new digital fad that appears on Twitter, but, rather that they are familiar with trends and make an effort to master one thing that they can use to improve instruction.

Flexibility is the key to future success.

Day 1 Reflection

Dr. Holder introduced himself and the class Today our focus seemed to revolve around research and the importance of gathering good, relevant data and using it to develop a literature review that helps those who read it better understand our train of thought.  Good research has no expiration date.

we looked at an educational myth — Dale’s Cone of Experience.  As it turns out, it is not based on any research.  It is a fabrication.  It was a solid launching point to discuss the need to check what we are seeing as we conduct research to make sure all of our information is data-driven.

We dove into the JFL and some of the research features available beyond “Search Everything.”  This began a discussion about the five-year-or-younger requirement for reference material to be used in our studies. Eric, we learned is effectively dead, and choosing Education Research Complete/Academic Search Complete are great options for launching research.
We also attended the dissertation lecture to make sure we understand the process.
Our final discussion point was to make sure that we narrow our research in our group literature review.  Sound advice for sure!

Day 2

As educators we need to invest in innovation in our field.  Far too often we allow industry, publishers and the like to drive the way we interact with technology.  Teachers need to own the way forward in all aspects of the field.  It is the teachers responsibility to keep up to speed with trends in the field of education.

Teachers need to be on top of changes in the field.

How do I move the field forward?

This kind of engagement in preparation will build value into the work we do and generate good product (students).  Teachers teach because they love what they do.  Every teacher needs to adopt as their philosophy that they are part of the Return on Investment (ROI) in education.

The teaching profession needs to change.  Educators tend to be obtuse about change in instruction.  Some of it is pay, some involves other factors like instructional philosophy and desire to change.

Districts will lose 12-20% of staff each year.  The cost of bringing in new teachers is very high.  The first three years are building years for new teachers.

Throwing hardware at the problem will not solve it.  Technology brings efficiency to instruction.  It also adds an element of engagement.  We have to understand the pedagogy behind effective instruction.

We encourage student voice and choice.  Students demonstrate deep understanding in a manner with which you are comfortable.  Administrators need to advance the idea of Teacher Voice and Choice.  Effective leaders seek input and buy-in from all stakeholders before implementing new programs.  Flexibility in all aspects of instruction is critical.

Other thoughts:

Focusing too heavily on standardized test results reduces the entire learning community to a number.


Day 3

The morning discussion centered on students taking ownership of their own learning.  Learned helplessness is a real thing.  As teachers we need to help students grow through the stages of hand-holding and the like.

More discussion revolved around Micro-tasking vs Multi-tasking.

Excuses for ADHD behavior ignores the need for discipline.

In education, “the customer is always right” does not work. Students who want to work the system to provide hand-holding through the process is not acceptable.

Course as a smorgasbord – synchronous and asynchronous instruction à all within the same course. This would provide differentiation within the course.


A few helpful links:





Four Pillars of F-L-I-P

  1. Flexible Learning
  2. Learning Culture – Rich learning environment à upper end of Blooms
  3. Intentional Content – Create and curate relevant content.
  4. Professional Educator – The role of the teacher is more important than expected. The teacher has to be available.
    1. Involved in formative assessment to inform future instruction.
    2. Collaborative element is active and transformational.


Julie Schell — Flipped classroom in 60 seconds.

  1. BEFORE: Students prepare for full participation in class
  2. DURING: Students practice applying key concepts with feedback
    1. Students who arrive unprepared do not participate.
    2. Students collaborate to build greater understanding.
  3. AFTER: Students check their understanding and extend their learning.
    1. Homework has not been quantified to enrich student grasp of concepts.
    2. What are students doing to push forward their understanding? What are they doing to demonstrate their understanding of ideas?

If students read “With Understanding” we can have a much different dialogue.

The student needs to engage the reading to elevate understanding and discussion. This all must be tied into schema to be remembered.

Was the Civil War about slavery? (9-out –of-10 Confederate soldiers at Antietam never had any connection to slavery/ farming.)

This group of students is interested in developing more collaborative environments in their schools. I am really looking forward to working closer with all of them the rest of the week.

Since Stephana could not see my blog the last few days, this one is for her!

Day 4

Notes and thoughts…

I met some guys in the chaplaincy program this morning. They are excited about the opportunity to serve.



The importance of audio

Vocal quirks

Speakerphone effect

Omni-directional mics

Uni-directional mics

Mics in computers are condenser mics.

Ambient noise

Audacity – Source Forge

Careful of Clipping – high input volume

Be careful of:

Dentilization/ Plosives/ Whistles/ Rubbing

The quality of the instructor’s voice impacts cognition.

Yeti Blue mic

Samson Meteor

Snowball mic

Zoom H2

Sound field amplification

Typically used in larger classrooms.

Helps students in ESE classrooms to stay on task, etc.

$1,000 per set

Will it work in smaller classrooms (15-20 students)?

Students off task, students asking for repetition


BB Grader (Doug’s suggestion) allows the teacher to leave written, audio and video comments.

Round-robin discussion about our presentations

Joanna talked about Naviance and its use or lack of use of this helpful app.


Collage – French Mixing numerous images seamlessly together

Compositing – The resulting image looks like what the scene would have looked like if it actually happened.

It is worth remembering:

72 pixels is kinda low resolution 1200 dpi gives much more detail

Work from folders.

Canvas size or image size can scale up or down the size of the image.


Apple ads:

Given the right parameters, you do not have to teach students to create digital content. You just have to let them.

Broaden the audience for student work. Students will invest themselves into course work aggressively when they want to express the concept.

Mpeg is DVD format.

MLV is mobile device format

FLV is Flash format

WebM is Chrome

SWF files aren’t understood by your browser. Drag it to your BROWSER!

Techsmith – CamStudi

This can be done in QuickTime

Download Helper — Firefox


Your computer does not know what to do with Jing videos.

Take Jing products and …

Copy Google Docs link and share it in Bb.

Working on my video and this blog this week, I learned that IOS and OSX deal with software very differently. I brought my Macbook Air to Liberty this week. I am used to working on my WordPress and Jing video (swf file conversion became a problem on the Air) is a fairly simple process on my Macbook Pro. However, logging on to edit my WordPress pages took some time and a bit of trial and error.


Day 5

Today’s presentations went well. It is a common theme, but there are no silver bullets where technology is concerned. A lot of research needs to be done to determine what, if any, effect all of this tech integration actually has on student outcomes.

I always enjoy getting to know my classmates. Group projects can help us learn how to negotiate through mild frustration and hitches in the system. I always want to put my best foot forward. My group worked through technical issues with Google Docs permissions and presented a great product. We worked together like we had known each other for years.

It was good to have familiar faces in the class as well. Kirt, Doug and Joanna (the order of those names was randomly generated) helped bring the entire class together. The “new” members of our group came along for the ride. We laughed a lot this week.

I look forward to hearing glowing reports of what God does with each of them as they complete their programs and apply all that they have learned.


Promoting Beneficial Habits of Mind in Students


Creative thinking and good habits of mind are connected.  Here is an article that points toward building good habits of mind in our students through creative thinking.


Student Feedback to Help Improve the Teaceher


Here is a brief article I found on the topic of getting students to reflect and offer suggestions on the school year.  The idea of anonymous feedback is a powerful tool.  How much of this can you…will you add to what you do this year?