Educators are doing their best to reach all students and ensure every student does not only have access to their education but is actively engaging and achieving success. Many states have identified and urged districts to think through teaching and learning as a continuum of options available to them as they navigate fluctuating public health data. There are often no right or wrong answers to the way in which educators and families find a way to providing a safely delivered education during this time, but with more insights, more informed and better-fitting decisions can be made. Now more than ever, and no matter the learning model – whether public health data dictates virtual, in-person, or hybrid – decisions must be made to ensure all students are being served. In addition to the status of the pandemic locally, the lens of educational equity is what drives decisions to implement learning models that work for each and every child.
Data insights inform decision making by shining a light on students’ needs. During this time, students may require an entirely different approach to learning. Metrics that measure access, engagement, and outcomes can help proactively identify the necessary supports for students. Even prior to the pandemic, educational equity was an ongoing struggle, but with the unknown of digital learning – there is a lot of “new” to grasp and put structures and systems around. Digital learning analytics takes a lot of the questions out of the mix and paves a clearer path forward.
At the outset of the pandemic in March, the priority was ensuring students’ basic needs were met and providing them access to instruction. Then, the expectation grew to engagement with learning – and now that our understanding of the current situation has grown to learning to live and carry on amidst the pandemic, we have broadened our focus and returned to nurturing success through positive student outcomes.
Simply put, if a student is not accessing the LMS, we know they are not engaging with the learning content. For a student who is both accessing and engaging with the curriculum, are there correlations between the access, engagement, and the resulting outcomes? If not, why and what supports can be implemented? This unprecedented time is forcing us to personalize instruction to optimize the needs of each learner.
A continuum of available learning strategies was developed to best fit the requisites to educate young generations in this time in history. If we’ve learned anything, there is no black and white – we are traversing a lot of grey area, and information is light and key to making the most informed decisions.