Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Today's "Talk out of School" on PreK reopening and how to improve online learning

This morning, on my “Talk out of School” podcast, I spoke to Alice Mulligan, director of a preschool in Brooklyn and head of CBOs for Equity, whose school reopened last week.  She described the changes and renovations she had to make to ensure proper safety precautions, without help or reimbursement from the DOE. 

Alice almost had to cancel the interview when right before the broadcast, one of her students developed a runny nose.  As she explained, she hurriedly put on PPE and waited outside for the parents to come to pick up and take the child home.  Luckily, Alice was able to return to her office right before 10 AM to speak on the show. Just one of the many unpredictable events that educators will have to deal with during this unpredictable year.

Then I interviewed Tom Liam Lynch, director of education policy for the Center for NYC affairs and editor in chief  of InsideSchools, who explained their new project, InsideSchools plus, an online community site for parents to share information about their schools and express their concerns.   

Tom also helped develop the iLearn learning platform when he worked for DOE several years ago.  iLearn was used during this past summer school with  inconsistent results. Tom explained how he believes remote learning could be strengthened from the version that was implemented over the summer and last year, that is, if teachers are properly supported. He has also developed a free online course for parents to let them know how to help their children succeed with learning remotely. 

As I made clear during our discussion, I’m not a fan of online learning, and strongly believe that at its best, learning is a collective, social endeavor and that most students need the steady in-person support of their teachers to thrive. And yet given the fact that most students will be relegated to remote instruction for much of their time, even if they opted into in-person learning, it is important to try to improve upon the method by analyzing the failures of the past .

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