Preparing for Potential Program Closures due to COVID 19: Expanding Distance Learning in Minnesota ABETom Cytron-Hysom, Consultant
The continued expansion of the COVID 19 pandemic makes it likely that many ABE programs will need to close for periods of time. Please consider strengthening and expanding Distance Learning (DL) services so you can continue serving your students in case of closure.
Minnesota State Distance Learning Policy specifically allows for synchronous online learning via a webinar platform or similar tool. You may count seat time attendance for the time students spend learning online with you. Free/low-cost options include Zoom (https://zoom.us/) and Google Hangouts Meet (https://gsuite.google.com/products/meet/)
Here are some further suggestions:
- Make sure each of your students has a working email address, so you can communicate with them at a distance.
- Develop remote working arrangements for staff, insuring each person has adequate connectivity and access to work at home.
- Insure that all teachers who may be involved in distance learning complete DL Basics (https://online.themlc.org/enrol/index.php?id=90), as per state policy
- Stay connected with students so they have good information and know when they can return to class. Remind (https://www.remind.com/) can easily reach large numbers of students. We recommend signing students up now if you are not already using it. It’s also a great way to send links to online learning options!
- Self-paced distance learning platforms aren’t a replacement for face-to-face classes, but they are helpful and important. If you are not now using a DL platform or platforms, review those that are available. All programs have free access to Plato Edmentum and Northstar – see http://mnabe-distancelearning.org/approved-dl-platforms/state-supported-platforms. Note that Northstar Online Learning (NSOL) now has self-directed online instruction and practice material for Computer Basics, which can be used to claim time-on-task proxy hours.
- There are also a number of free platforms – see http://mnabe-distancelearning.org/other-platforms. We just added a new search and filtering function to this page, allowing you to identify platforms which are responsive to the needs of specific students or student groups; this is available at the top of the webpage, as shown here:
- Sign up as many students now as you can for the platform(s) you select, and take time during class to make sure everyone knows how to access their platform(s).
- There is a very robust and informative online LINCS discussion with many helpful suggestions for DL in a time of potential quarantine.
- Another good resource is https://otan.us/
We will be providing ongoing information in the coming days about potential resources, including news items on the DL website. Please submit questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
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