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Day 130: And what do you mean by E-Learning?
By Mark Heintz
Mar 13, 2020

Day 130

 I spent way too much time last night combing the internet to find the latest update on coronavirus. Schools are closing for multiple weeks and I can’t help shake the feeling that my school might close, too. One consistent theme in all of the school closings is the movement to e-learning; however, I haven’t seen a common set of expectations or definitions of it. And I looked. I wondered: What the expectation for me might be? What can I expect of students? What support would I need? What support would they need?

On the one hand, it’s refreshing to find there isn’t one way to do it. Even more so, there isn’t one person/group driving the entire message of e-learning. In Illinois, there are requirements for the e-learning day to count as a school day, but those requirements allow for a degree of flexibility.

In my vast internet search, one article stuck out that was written by Gary Stager. It’s worth a read. Here is that link. E-learning could open the possibilities to look at our schools and make them better. I’m privileged to be in a district that has been 1:1 for a long time and is attempting to get internet for those who don’t have it at home. I know that is not the case for everyone’s school.

While the potential is there, I keep coming back to my definition of a learner and the goal I set out to accomplish this year.

My mission is to develop learners; people who: 

  • can learn anytime, anywhere

  • find problems they are interested in 

  • connect to resources to solve their problems

  • curate their learning for accessibility

  • set goals and monitor progress

  • advocate for their needs

  • want to learn more

If we do shut down our building and move to e-learning, I’m not sure my definition of e-learning needs to be different than my definition of learning. There is no doubt that I will not be able to provide the same experience of being in the classroom. There won’t be the same social interaction and the ability to share their ideas with one another in a personal setting. Yet, I can’t help but know that many of them already have ways to connect and collaborate to do what I ask. I just won’t be able to see it and be a part of it on the same level I do now by being in the classroom. In the end, this will minimize my importance and hopefully force learning to be in the hands of the students. E-learning will push my instructional practices even more towards student-centered practices. 

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