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Educators discuss the lessons learned after 18 months of offering virtual teaching

Posted at 8:44 PM, Oct 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-08 21:44:22-04

Wisconsin (NBC 26) — School districts across northeast Wisconsin have been learning as they go through the pandemic, preparing online learning environments for students who both prefer the medium and those who are forced to embrace it temporarily.

"What we are finding, and I think we'll find throughout the state is that the loss of learning during this time is not as significant as we thought. Kids are being very resilient and our teachers are doing a terrific job," says David Gundlach the Deputy Superintendent for the Oshkosh Area School District.

Gundlach says his staff has learned a lot about what works and what doesn't since the pandemic began, and that includes making sure all teachers conduct their virtual classrooms in similar ways.

"The reason we do that is, so the learner is focused on the learning rather than how do they navigate. If they're navigating two classes and we've designed them completely different that's going to be a challenge for the learner, so we need to be on the same page," adds Gundlach.

When teachers are on the same page, it can be less of a technological challenge for students who are taking several online courses. But it's also important for teachers to make sure they're holding their students' attention.

"When they are with our teachers in their groups, in Zoom meetings like this, we try to have it where it's small groups and where the students are doing most of the talking," says Adam Gloudemans the Principal of Lincoln Elementary in the Green Bay Area Public School District.

Gloudemans says getting teachers out of the habit of long lectures is also key to holding a student's attention online. Additionally, he says giving students assignments that require them to log off their computers altogether is also an important lesson learned during the pandemic.

"They may meet for 15 minutes and then come back 45 minutes later, two hours later; so, they're not on the computer all day long. We are specifically designing stuff where they are doing it off the computer. So still giving some of those things they're able to do that they may be missing," adds Gloudemans.

In the last 18 months, teachers have received a crash course in online education and most educators are discovering it's likely a model that is here to stay.

"It's not just going to be I am virtual, or I am in person (learning). It's actually going to be both. I think that will be the future of a lot of learning experiences," adds Gundlach.