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Beyond the Pandemic: Visioning Through the Use of Education Logic Models

Commentary by: Gregory M. McGough, Ed.D., Director of Curriculum & Coordinator of Federal Programs for Columbia Borough School District, @McGough3R

(Part 3 of 3 – Read Part 1 – Read Part 2)

 

Global educational institutions, in all their various forms, have a similar responsibility to learners to provide diverse educational opportunities that will result in post secondary success. Most schools were given a mulligan this Spring because of Covid-19’s unpredictable and widespread impact on social norms and practices.

As the Fall term begins, the prevailing expectation will be that education teams will have a plan to deliver instruction in some form: traditional, virtual, or a hybrid model. Even though unknown variables have blurred the view of the future, school leaders will be expected to have a clear vision of what it means to learn.

An email from my cousin Eric McGough, an administrator at Caribou High School, initiated the formation of a new virtual community of practice (VCoP) for me. Membership in our two-person group was predicated on the unspoken notions that we share a passion for educational reform and a willingness to openly share our “best practices.” During our Zoom conversation, Eric realized that he knew an educational thought leader who might be able to provide some mentorship to our community. 

An invitation was sent.

Welcome Scott Harrison, executive director of the Central Aroostook Council on Education (CACE) to our VCoP. His University of Maine Presque Isle-based organization supports 22 member schools in providing high-quality professional development opportunities that promote continuous innovation in

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Mid-Pandemic: An Unlikely Partnership, Part 2

Commentary by: Gregory M. McGough, Ed.D., Director of Curriculum & Coordinator of Federal Programs for Columbia Borough School District, @McGough3R

(Part 2 of 3 – Read Part 1 Here)

 

On March 13th, the governor of Pennsylvania closed public schools, and my superintendent turned to me and asked, “Are you ready to go virtual?”

My answer was, “No.”

Instantly, I entered a state of cognitive dissonance, a mental discomfort caused when a person holds two(2) conflicting paradigms that create a disequilibrium of the mind. Our traditional school approach would have to rapidly adapt to implement an emergency virtual model. In an effort to find balance, our educational team underwent a radical shift in our perceptions around what it means to learn.

At the time, we were to be closed for only two(2) weeks, so we needed to create a bridge of FREE resources for our families/caregivers, CBSD Learn from Home Resources.

It was on Twitter sharing our FREE resources with my Virtual Community of Practice(VCoP) that an unlikely partnership formed with Jeanne Allen, Center for Education Reform.  Ideologically, we have different beliefs about how to go about educational reform, but this new context, created by Covid-19, allowed us to focus on our common practices rather than on our conflicting beliefs.

  1. Lave and E. Wenger’s situated learning theory posits that learners form social groups (community) naturally around common areas of interest (domains) and look to different members of the group to improve their craft (practices). This naturally occurring

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Connectivity for Students in Rural Communities

Commentary by: Daniel J.W. Neal, Chairman, CEO & Founder of Kajeet

Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, digital equity advocates in education sounded alarm bells about the long-term effects that lack of Internet access at home had on students, which is often referred to as the Homework Gap.

Statistics cited in 2015 by the FCC showed that while 7 in 10 teachers assigned homework requiring Internet access at home, 1 in 3 students did not have broadband Internet at home. This put them at a clear disadvantage when compared to their peers with Internet access, hurting their test scores and lowering their graduation rates.

In rural communities, the digital divide is even more problematic because of problems of access, high costs, lack of infrastructure, low adoption rates, and even absenteeism at school.

So how do students in rural, suburban, and urban communities generally cope without Internet at home? With surprising ingenuity, it turns out.

In addition to turning on their mobile hotspots, students without Internet access at home often resort to visiting fast food restaurants or other public places to get the WiFi they need to complete their schoolwork.

But these makeshift measures often mean staying out late, putting students at risk each time they leave their homes. Additionally, the “free” Internet services available in those public spaces are not designed for young, impressionable children and leave them open to unsafe and harmful content, if not unwelcome distractions.

In rural communities, these types of accommodations are even more difficult to execute. After COVID-19 and the restrictions on large congregations it has introduced, they’re almost impossible.

School district leaders across the country have been scrambling to solve the problem of digital access in rural communities for some time. The push to distance learning necessitated by COVID-19 has only

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