Addendum #3: Arguing for Clarity and Using MacGuyver Strategies: “Emergency Remote Learning” Conditions During COVID-19

Project-Based Learning advocate A.J. Julian shares good and timely counsel as he revises what he and other educators have been calling “distance learning” or “online learning” in “This Is Not Distance or Online Learning.” He rightfully clarifies that what we’re doing is actually “emergency remote learning.” The distinction is helpful and practical for guiding teachers, students, and others, especially in terms of satisficing our understanding and practices during this time of COVID-19 response conditions. 

It’s especially worth following the link to the Educase article that informed and motivated his response: “The Difference Between Emergency Remote Teaching and Online Learning.” (Personally, the reference to being in MacGuyver mode resonates with me–I feel like I’m in this mode most weeks of school during non COVID-19 conditions!) This excerpt about “Emergency Remote Teaching” helps me get some clarity about how to understand and engage our present conditions:

In contrast to experiences that are planned from the beginning and designed to be online, emergency remote teaching (ERT) is a temporary shift of instructional delivery to an alternate delivery mode due to crisis circumstances. It involves the use of fully remote teaching solutions for instruction or education that would otherwise be delivered face-to-face or as blended or hybrid courses and that will return to that format once the crisis or emergency has abated. The primary objective in these circumstances is not to re-create a robust educational ecosystem but rather to provide temporary access to instruction and instructional supports in a manner that is quick to set up and is reliably available during an emergency or crisis. When we understand ERT in this manner, we can start to divorce it from “online learning.” There are many examples of other countries responding to school and university closures in a time of crisis by implementing models such as mobile learning, radio, blended learning, or other solutions that are contextually more feasible.

As I was exploring this topic, I found Allison Stanger’s CHE post on “Make All Courses Pass/Fail Now” also helpful for thinking about assessment. Although she’s writing for the college context, her points seem relevant to public school settings too. 

Onward! (Or, KBO!, as Churchill would say.)

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