Approaches To Combat Coronavirus Slide

Coronavirus Slide: eLearning Approaches
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Summary: We’re tasked to be the change we seek. Possibility of COVID-19 infection makes the payoffs for eLearning (e.g., flattening the curve, social distancing compliance) greater than the payoffs for traditional learning.

eLearning Approaches To Beat The Coronavirus Slide

Learning is not canceled. Buildings are closed. Testing is suspended. Social distancing and distance learning are the new normal amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, educators and parents and learners of all ages across the globe grapple with educational technology. We’re working together to deliver high-quality instruction [1] in innovative ways to ensure growth toward mastery. This article highlights eLearning approaches to combat the coronavirus slide.

In a previous blog, I talked about summer learning loss [2]: how it begins, the impact, action steps to take. Summer learning loss is also known as summer slide; academic progress made during the school year degrades over the summer break when we’re not intentional about engaging in summer learning activities.

Concerns over flattening the curve [3] of coronavirus infection rate have led to a new kind of slide: coronavirus slide. The longer schools are closed, the larger the gap between learning content during classroom instruction and demonstrating mastery of assessments. Though many school leaders have not decided the best approach to address coronavirus slide [4] in their communities, amping up eLearning capabilities appears to be the latest trend. As the race to execute one-to-one technology programs revs up, questions about eLearning best practices arise.

How should we structure eLearning? Which Virtual Learning Environments are best? What kinds of resources are most effective? Are different remote learning options more appropriate? Naturally, I’ve noticed mixed responses. Each individual brings to the learning environment unique challenges and strengths.

We’re tasked to be the change we seek. Possibility of COVID-19 infection makes the payoffs for eLearning [5] (e.g., flattening the curve, social distancing compliance) greater than the payoffs for traditional learning. With proper perspective and resources, differentiated instruction becomes easier in online environments. When it comes to the what of learning, we get to provide multiple means of representation [6]. Less is more in online learning environments.

Hallmarks Of Quality eLearning

The following are 8 hallmarks of quality eLearning experiences and complement traditional instructional approaches.

  1. Fewer grading requirements
    Grade the meaningful, big-idea assessment tasks; take advantage of auto-grading features. We want value on productivity not activity.
  2. Flexible options [7] for demonstrating mastery
    Allow a choice among written, video, audio, typed, and image submissions; enrich learning by encouraging submission variety.
  3. Frequent wellness checks [8] among educators, parents, and learners
    Text, email, or post a quick (and confidential) survey. Follow up. Honor virtual office hours. We can leverage relationships to improve outcomes.
  4. Fail forward
    Abandon time limits on at-home and virtual assignments, accept late work (with graduated consequences), and embrace retakes. We want students to get comfortable learning from mistakes.
  5. Flip the classroom [9]
    Leverage virtual team working environments; evaluate team productivity and learning products. We want students to perform the heavy lifting; this happens when educators, parents, tutors serve as guides on the side.
  6. Focus instruction
    Don’t repeat because learners can pause and replay; do chunk complex concepts into short segments (7-minutes or less); do reinforce learning via frequent low-stakes checks for understanding. We want to create brief videos that supplement text instructions; this provides a multi-sensory learning experience.
  7. Fix the schedule
    Predictability is key; [10] set a daily or weekly template for providing instruction, facilitating engagement, and performing an assessment.
  8. Frugally use synchronous and asynchronous [11] collaboration and learning platforms
    Set up professional classrooms and make time for personal connections without overusing technology.

Setting participation thresholds in online discussion threads and open-response learning activities provide an opportunity to personalize instruction. We want to invite learners to engage in comprehension activities [12]. Are students equipped to construct meaning using the learning materials provided? Have we empowered students to generate new understandings? Do we see evidence of independent learning?

As education leaders and legislators work toward more permanent solutions, we aren’t sitting idly. Whether a parent or educator, you’re invited to share how these approaches have influenced your approach to combating coronavirus slide.


[1] What Works Cleaning House

[2] Summer Learning Loss is Real!

[3] Flattening the Curve for COVID-19: What Does It Mean and How Can You Help?

[4] How Schools Will Overcome the 'Coronavirus Slide:' Ideas From 5 Superintendents

[5] Online Learning: The Pros And Cons Of K-12 Computer Courses

[6] Provide multiple means of Representation

[7] 75 Digital Tools and Apps Teachers Can Use to Support Formative Assessment in the Classroom

[8] Focusing on Student Well-Being in Times of Crisis

[9] 5 Best Practices for the Flipped Classroom

[10] Predictability: What Online Students Want

[11] (The Right) Learning Modalities To Deliver Digital Learning: Part 1

[12] Provide options for Comprehension