By Theron Cosgrave, a California-based educator and educational consultant.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced massive changes upon schools across the world. UNESCO (the education division of the United Nations) recently estimated that over 1.19 billion students have been affected by the pandemic–nearly 70% of the world’s student population. With schools closed, teachers and students have had to pivot from a face-to-face model to an online distance learning approach. And while the results have been mixed, the transition has accelerated key trends that can ultimately benefit teachers and students.
If you’re looking for a silver lining to this educational experiment, it may be this: students and teachers are learning new skills and routines that can reshape how schools operate. Here are two trends reinforced by the distance learning approach and how teachers can take advantage of the Internet Archive’s digitized books to benefit student learning.
Trend 1: Teacher as Learning Coach
Distance learning has required teachers to shift their role from “knowledge source” to “learning coach.” Teachers succeeding at engaging students are blending flipped learning strategies with real-time interpersonal connections. Books available through the Internet Archive can help teachers guide student skill development as they access online resources.
Ideas for Teachers:
- Share Specific Books: Teachers of K-2 students can encourage the development of foundational reading skills by directing students to read books to an adult in their home. Stories like Eric Carle’s A House for Hermit Crab or Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad Together are solid picks. As students improve their reading skills, books like an illustrated children’s dictionary can support vocabulary development and word fluency.
- Encourage Supplemental Reading: Once students have learned to read, they can read to learn. Middle- and upper-grade teachers can encourage students to explore topics of interest. For example, teachers can guide students toward collections of books about animals and pets or a set of books that feature black girls as the main character. Older students can be coached to pursue passion projects using the library’s collections.
Trend 2: School Happens Anytime, Anywhere
Over the past two decades, the digital revolution has put history’s most powerful information machine (the internet) in the pocket of smartphone users around the globe. And while some teachers have taken advantage of web resources for years, an army of educators across the globe are now poised to take full advantage of “anytime, anywhere schooling.”
The traditional daily school schedule has given way to asynchronous teaching and learning. Going forward, more schools–particularly at the high school level and above–are likely to renegotiate how they use time and space. This shift makes learning more accessible to students who struggle with regular attendance or face temporary interruptions (like pandemics and weather-related school closures) in their schooling.
Ideas for Teachers:
- Explicitly Teach New Mindsets: Teaching students to view their education in a more holistic manner is essential. Students can be challenged to see learning as something that takes place wherever they are–at school, at home, or out in the community–and at all times throughout the day. Digital libraries like the Universal School Library can be enjoyed wherever internet access is available and at all times.
- Encourage Reading Habits by Assigning Longer Works: In a world of social media saturation, students need to build their capacity to persist in reading longer texts. The always-on nature of the Internet Archive’s book collections makes it easy for students to access books whenever and wherever using a mobile device. This increased accessibility supports the development of daily reading habits, which teachers can foster by assigning longer texts. Works of fiction targeted to student reading levels are generally good bets for books that can push students to strengthen their reading muscles.
The pandemic is accelerating the pace of change in education. As our understanding of teaching and school continue to evolve, teachers can take advantage of these trends by using the Internet Archive’s digital libraries to help students adapt to new ways of learning.