As part of an education series on distance learning during closures due to coronavirus in both Broward and Miami-Dade county school districts, we reached out for some answers as to how the practice is going. Here is a Q&A with Broward County Public School District’s Daniel Gohl, Chief Academic Officer.
CV: If no live classes will be mandated, is the plan that every kid in the school district repeat this school year?
DG: No. BCPS has delivered an enterprise solution that is providing core instruction, supplemental services, and extended learning opportunities. While different in modality than the traditional classroom, teachers are still guiding the learning, students are still making the effort to learn, students are receiving feedback, and teachers are able to gauge student progress to issue grades. The method has changed, but the expectation and delivery of learning has been retained.
CV: We’ve created a platform guide as a helpful tool for parents and educator What platforms are your teachers are using for live classes?
DG: Broward County Public Schools has a single-sign-on solution (Clever) to access learning resources via a LaunchPad. Students then access their courses using the learning management system, Canvas. Within Canvas, video chats are held using Microsoft TEAMS. This creates a digitally secured “walled garden” within which learning, and interactions occur. Parents and students can load the Google Chrome Translate extension to receive their Canvas courses in languages other than English.
More information, including parent resources, can be found at http://www.browardschools.com/learningnevercloses
CV: If Broward County Public schools does not mandate that it’s teachers do live classes will that change now that we’ve gone from a temporary situation to possibly not being back in school for the rest of the school year?
DG: BCPS is confident that learning continuity is able to be met for the remainder of the school year should that be necessary. Exceptional student support, ESOL/Bilingual services and other supplemental services are being delivered within the limitations of not being able to be in the same physical space. Additional opportunities, either on the LaunchPad or in Canvas, include: Daily mindfulness courses from the District, Chess4Life, Mental Health courses, Minecraft for Education, learning ArcGIS, and many others.
CV: What are the metrics by which the district is gauging that this is working? How is “success” defined? We are hearing from parents that teachers are not conducting ungraded assessments or quizzes to gauge if the self-study electronic DIY exercises are being absorbed by students. How is the district assessing that the kids are absorbing the distance learning programming?
DG: Student engagement metrics are taken in a three-tiered approach. Daily sign-ins to the single sign-on are taken through Clever. This provides a gauge of students coming through a single point of access. This can be thought of as taking the equivalent of daily attendance. Additionally, engagement in each course is measured by digital records generated by Canvas on a course-by-course basis. This can be thought of as taking the equivalent of period attendance. Finally, teachers are monitoring student presence and engagement through the submission of student work. We are able to deploy both project-based and digital assessments to monitor student progress.