If the past couple of years have taught us anything about our schools, it’s the value of flexibility, adaptability, strong leadership, and the critical importance of our teachers, staff, students, and families working together as a community to maintain safe, effective learning. As we’ve encountered and overcome the pandemic’s changing requirements, we’ve found our Las Vegas Day School community to be resilient and resourceful. While many schools have struggled with learning loss during periods of remote learning, we have been fortunate to minimize that learning loss with our blended learning approach.
Challenges of Remote Learning
As so many families around the world experienced when pandemic precautions prompted closures and adjustments to how students learn, remote learning presents a number of challenges for everyone involved. Teachers, IT staff, and administrators must develop and employ new technologies, teaching methods, and academic schedules. Families must accommodate changes in schedules and home learning supervision. Most of all, however, students must adapt to new ways of learning, a lack of interaction with their classmates, and a need for increased independence and self-motivation.
According to recent studies, all students are at risk of learning loss as a result of the switch to remote learning, and these learning losses can vary with student ages.
Remote Education Learning Loss for Younger Students
As you might expect, the switch to remote learning can be the hardest on younger children. A recent US Department of Education publication notes that younger children are the most vulnerable because “they learn best from effective human interaction, hands-on exploration, and all kinds of sensory and physical activities.” Specifically, younger learners thrive with:
- Shorter, play-based learning techniques
- A focus on learning that stimulates the senses
- Physical and interactive activities
- Lessons planned around developmentally appropriate attention spans
These are precisely the elements that are often so lacking with remote education. Younger children in purely remote learning environments don’t just lose academics, they miss out on critical interaction with teachers and their peers, resulting in missed opportunities to develop vital social and emotional skills. Parents who are already juggling busy schedules and changes may have limited time to supervise and interact with young learners, especially in families with several young children.
Remote Education Learning Loss for Older Students
Across the country, most older students seemed to find the remote education transition less challenging than younger students, but at least one study indicates they have faced plenty of hurdles of their own, including:
- Teachers without adequate experience or training for teaching in a remote education environment
- Inadequate technology to properly support robust remote teaching
- Parents who are often unable to help effectively with some subjects when needed
- Children who may be very comfortable with technology aren’t necessarily well prepared to be effective digital learners
- For families with multiple remote learners at home, space, equipment, and even bandwidth may be limited
How LVDS Minimizes Remote Learning Losses
With our commitment to creating lifelong learners, helping all of our students avoid learning loss during a period of remote education has been of the utmost concern. We don’t believe that these learning losses are a foregone conclusion, and, in fact, we have been building a robust, enriching learning environment for years — one which has served us very well as we adjusted to changes required by the pandemic. Specifically, we have consistently incorporated innovative technology and provided the necessary training to offer the richest possible educational experience. This system is often called blended or hybrid learning, and during our remote learning times, we have enriched and expanded our blended learning capabilities to best support our students. In combination with physical and logistical adjustments, this learning approach provides our students the best possible educational experience from an academic, social, and emotional viewpoint.
Benefits of Blended Learning
Traditional classroom teaching is, of course, a tried-and-true approach to learning. Purpose-built remote learning environments can also be quite effective systems for many students. Maximum benefits, however, come when the traditional classroom and innovative, online technologies are brought together in blended or hybrid learning. Blended learning has been shown in multiple studies to be more effective than traditional teaching methods for elementary grade reading skills. It has also been shown to be more effective than traditional teaching for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects for elementary school students. Some specific benefits of blended learning approaches include:
- Improved student engagement
- Focus on comprehension and practice
- Enhanced student learning data
- Streamlined grading and other tasks
Catching Up After Remote Learning Loss
In cases where there has been some remote learning loss, several approaches exist to bring students up to grade level. Districts across the nation are wrestling with how best to help. Many are choosing a remedial method where students will basically restart at the point their education became remote, effectively writing off the past year’s work. With this scenario, students who performed well during remote learning will likely be bored with redundancy but those who fell behind will benefit. Alternatively, other schools are choosing to start at grade level, but providing additional, targeted help where some students have gaps in their learning — a system called acceleration. This acceleration approach is the one most recommended by the US Department of Education, and provides students the best opportunity to succeed and to minimize the effects of remote education.
At Las Vegas Day School, we take education seriously, focusing on creating motivated, lifelong learners. Our historic and ongoing commitment to incorporating innovative technology to enhance and enrich our students’ classroom experiences is a vital part of how we structure learning. Our blended learning approach, along with the implementation of countless safety precautions on our campus have allowed us to minimize any learning loss due to remote education. With the powerful combination of blended learning, enthusiastic and fully committed staff, invaluable family support, and the cooperation of our entire student body, we are uniquely positioned to minimize the harm of remote learning loss for current and future students. We welcome you to contact us with any questions you may have about an LVDS education.Categorized in: Education