Remote Learning

The need to protect against the spread of the Coronavirus has led to an explosion of distance and hybrid learning approaches. Tools and pedagogies vary by school and community, and the use of digital learning approaches can help ensure continuity and personalization of learning for all students. The following sections provide resources and best practices in digital learning collected from and shared with Connecticut's educational community.

To suggest additions to the resources listed in the following sections, e-mail doug.casey@ct.gov, or share via social media using the #KeepCTLearning hashtag. You may use the links below to jump to specific groups of resources:

>>  Reports

>>  Guiding Considerations

>>  Planning Frameworks and Checklists

>>  Connecting Students Outside School

>>  Free or Reduced-Price Software

>>  Free and Open Educational Resources

 

Reports

  • NEW: Cover of Winter 2021 K – 12 Home Broadband ReportThe January 2021 report, "Home Internet Connectivity: Barriers and Opportunities for K – 12 Students," reflects the responses of school leaders to questions about remote learning in their communities. Feedback from respondents casts light on the factors that may vie against broadband and technology adoption among families, as well as exemplary outreach approaches to engage students in remote and hybrid learning. 
  • The Commission's report, "School Technology: Current and Planned Investments to Support Remote Learning," represents feedback from the the spring of 2020 on the plans of K – 12 leaders to invest in connectivity, devices, professional development, software, and other aspects of digital learning. The survey data behind this report also helped determine device and connectivity needs that Governor Lamont's Everybody Learns initiative has addressed beginning in the summer of 2020. 

 

Guiding Considerations


In developing continuity plans, districts should take into several key considerations:

 

  • Staff Preparedness: How ready are educators to support online learning using current and possibly new tools to communicate and collaborate with students? Do educators have the devices, broadband connections, and skills needed to do so effectively outside of school? Consider that many teachers and administrators have families of their own who may be affected by school closures. What central office staff supports are available to assist educators before and during school closings?

  • Student Preparedness: While survey data indicates that nearly three-quarters of high schools and more than half of middle schools in Connecticut run 1:1 computer programs, with devices dedicated to individual students, an estimated eight percent of K – 12 learners in our state do not have Internet connections at home. And many students — whether connected or not — have individualized education plans (IEPs), varying levels of language proficiency, and other situations that may make it difficult to shift to an online-only learning experience. How will schools support learners who need more intensive accommodations, with the goal of providing equal opportunities for all students? School leaders should consider a mix of online and analog (e.g., print) resources that students can leverage in both facilitated (if possible) as well as self-paced instruction.

  • Your Technology Toolset: Districts already have a set of tools they use to organize, facilitate, and assess learning. Typically these fall into “stacks,” such as Google Chromebooks paired with Google Classroom and the G Suite of collaboration apps. Other districts may use Microsoft, Apple, or other combinations of technologies, along with collections of digital books and apps that support specific learning objectives. Teachers may leverage general-purpose applications to record and share instructional videos with students. Work with your district’s technology and instructional leadership teams to identify the tools your staff and students are familiar with, and avoid introducing new tools at the last minute, if possible. Resources from a few of the major technology platforms appear below:

 

Planning Frameworks and Checklists


School leaders may find the following resources helpful in considering plans for remote learning, organized alphabetically by publisher:

 

  • Digital Learning Collaborative eLearning Days: This compendium of state policies offers a useful implementation checklist on pages 10 – 12, addressing issues from teacher preparation and supports to accommodations for students with special needs:
    https://www.digitallearningcollab.com/s/DLC_eLearning2019.pdf
  • Ed Tech Collaboration Day Archive: Presentations and resources from Fairfield University's annual Ed Tech Collaboration Day. Streamed presentations and resources provide insights into specific tools as well as best practices in digital learning:
    https://www.fairfield.edu/edtechday/
  • EdAdvance – CAPSS Alternative School Sessions: This plan comes from Jonathan Costa of EdAdvance with input from the Technology Committee of the Connecticut Association for Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), intended to foster conversations about alternative learning sessions. While not finalized or endorsed by any State agency, it may provide assistance in planning for remote learning. Some Connecticut  districts have used the document to plan for alternative learning opportunities in the event of extended school closings:
    https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/DAS/CTEdTech/documents/CAPSS_ProposedALDPlanVersion4.pdf
  • Educause: The national professional organization for technology in higher education has a host of articles and resources to assist administrators as well as professors in shifting to online (remote) learning:
    https://library.educause.edu/topics/information-technology-management-and-leadership/covid-19 
  • Eduro Learning: Another set of resources that derive heavily from overseas communities that have experienced extended school closings comes from Eduro Learning:
    https://edurolearning.com/emergency-school-closures/
  • Kathleen Morris: This educator and blogger has created a compendium of Resources for Teaching Online Due to School Closures. This sweeping overview of distance-learning considerations: balancing online and offline time, providing realistic goals for students and their families, and lots of checklists and templates for use in planning:
    https://www.theedublogger.com/teaching-online-school-closures/
  • LearnLaunch: This Massachusetts-based digital learning incubator and think tank provides an interactive planning tool that guides district teams through all aspects of remote learning:
    https://equitableremotelearning.org/
  • Next Vista: The organization has published Continuity Considerations, an excellent overview with guiding questions that address existing practices and tools in the context of your district’s culture and resources:
    www.nextvista.org/advice/continuity/index.phtml

 

Connecting Students Outside School

A number of national and state programs exist to get students online. These initiatives include the federal Emergency Broadband Benefit and Emergency Connectivity Fund as well as Governor Lamont's Everybody Learns program to ensure that all K - 12 Connecticut students have access to a computer, broadband Internet connection, and other supports for remote learning. Visit this page for details on how to connect students:

>> Home Connectivity Page


Internet and Devices

To support digital learning, Students and their teachers need access to the Internet, a device (computer or tablet), technical support, and the digital literacy skills to leverage these resources. In addition to Connecticut's Everybody Learns initiative, the following programs help connect learners, educators, and families.

Home Access for Students and Teachers: The State of Connecticut has provided students with Internet access outside of school through Governor Lamont's Everybody Learns initiative. In addition to this program, the federal government has launched initiatives to help households and students get online. For details on these programs as well as a guide to choosing cellular hotspot devices, visit these pages from the Commission:

For communities looking to develop longer term solutions to closing the digital divide for learners of all ages, see the following resources:  

 

Free and Reduced-Price Software

Schools should try to leverage the digital tools they already use, to minimize disruption as students and teachers shift to online learning. However, teachers and leaders may wish to consider the many offers from educational technology providers recently made available.

Note on Data Privacy: Schools must choose software with terms of service that meet Connecticut's student data privacy law. For details, visit
https://portal.ct.gov/DAS/CTEdTech/Commission-for-Educational-Technology/Initiatives/Student-Data-Privacy

For a list of software that districts may use (compliancy-pledged), visit Connecticut.LearnPlatform.com (free - requires registration).

State Department of Education Resources
The Connecticut State Department of Education has published two installments of Resources to Support Student Learning During School Closures Due to COVID-19,  a list of apps and tools, listed by grade and subject, that districts may consider using once they confirm these resources comply with Connecticut privacy statute:

National List of Providers
The following sites provide searchable lists of free or reduced-price software offers made available following recent school closures:

Build and Share Your Own List
District leaders and educators can build and share their own personal list, curated from thousands of ed tech products using LearnPlatform's My EdTech List, available free of charge: mylist.learnplatform.com

Tips and Best Practices in Video-Based Instruction
The following resources provide legal guidance, practical tips, and insights on how to use specific tools to support safe, engaging learning experience using common videoconferencing services.

 

Free and Open Educational Resources

Teachers looking for free and openly licensed materials to support learning can leverage the GoOpenCT Web pages for the following resources:

>> Guidance, Governance, and Leadership

>> Training and Professional Development

>> Content Collections

>> Open Lessons and Units

>> Content Evaluation (Quality and Standards)

In addition to the above resources, Connecticut schools may take advantage of the Skills21 Personal Interest Project program free of charge:

Skills21 at EdAdvance - Online Personal Interest Project (Free Online Program and Support)
Skills21 at EdAdvance is offering an Online Student Personal Interest Project (PIP). Adapted from Skills21’s Middle and High School Capstone program, an Online Personal Interest Project is uniquely suited to extend meaningful learning online during this period. To support students and teachers from grades 5-12, Skills21 will be delivering instructional videos, live webinars, student templates, and an online environment for students, teachers and mentors to collaborate on each student’s Personal Interest Project.  All of these materials are available asynchronously so that students and teachers can work on them when it is convenient/possible for them.

How to Get Started
For teachers - Go to pip.skills21.org and create a Teacher Account using a school Google account. If your district does not use Google accounts, email us at info@skills21.org and we will create a manual login for you and your students. Skills21 will automatically be notified when you sign-up and we will email you a short video explaining how to use the platform as you support your students on their Personal Independent Projects. 

For students - Go to pip.skills21.org and create a Student account using a school Google account. If your school does not use Google accounts your teacher will provide you with a login. Be sure to select your school from the school drop down menu when you sign-up. If you don’t see your school please email us at info@skills21.org. Once you have successfully signed on, you will see a HELP link at the top right side of the page (next to your name). That link will provide a series of short videos to get you oriented to your Personal Interest Project.


Free Summer Camps

For a list of free online activities for students, visit Summer Camp Hub, https://summercamphub.com/free-online-summer-camps/.