4 ways to make remote learning equal or superior to in-person instruction

Instructional materials have a greater impact when they are tech-enabled, culturally responsive and support families
By: | July 27, 2021

When remote students learned at the same or a higher rate than their in-person classmates, two factors had to be in place, school leaders told Columbia University researchers.

The first was access to high-quality, digital instructional materials that were designed to bring teachers, parents and students together. The second was when a caregiver worked with students on their remote assignments, according to the “Fundamental 4” report by the Center for Public Research and Leadership at Columbia University.

“We learned through virtual schooling that educators’ use of high-quality, culturally responsive instructional materials that are enabled by technology and educative for families can be a game-changer,” said Elizabeth Chu, the center’s executive director and an author of the report.

“Instead of families being ‘passive recipients’ of instruction, it’s time for a new model in education that brings families fully into the instructional process by using high-quality instructional materials to help foster close coordination and collaboration between students, families and educators,” Chu said.

The center conducted nearly 300 interviews between February 2021 and June 2021 with administrators, teachers and families from schools in Colorado, Connecticut, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Virginia and Wisconsin.

“The adoption and implementation of high-quality curriculum materials was an essential key to turning around the district and ensuring our students could reach their academic potential,” Nikolai Vitti, superintendent at study site, Detroit Public Schools Community District, said in the report. “The pandemic was not an excuse not to continue to ensure our students received access to these materials.”

The researchers detailed four key ways families can continue to support students’ education even after the COVID crisis ends”

  1. Expand your dimensions: Instructional materials have a greater impact when, beyond being aligned to standards, they are tech-enabled, culturally responsive and enhance families’ ability to guide student learning.
  2. Coordinate co-production: High-quality materials allow educators and families to partner in setting and monitoring learning goals based on children’s individual circumstances, tailoring instruction to meet those goals, and celebrating success.
  3. Focus PD on family involvement: Supper teachers in implementing high-quality materials in ways that respond to the needs of students, families and communities.
  4. Design learning experiences together: Create ways for families, teachers, and students to collaborate to improve learning experiences.

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