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Pre-Pandemic: ​Research into Virtual Communities of Practice(VCoP)​, Part 1

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

(Part 1 of 3)

Pre-Pandemic: ​Research into Virtual Communities of Practice(VCoP)​

It was parent teacher night, and my daughter’s third grade teacher welcomed us to her well-decorated classroom.

More than twenty strips of paper were hung three feet above the ground and were adorned with a Facebook logo and a single statement, ​What’s on your mind?​ Students used dry-erase markers to share their daily ​social emotional​ status with the teacher and class. A gallery walk revealed a daily snapshot of the teacher’s current class climate.

The teacher went on to explain that she pulled this idea, as well as meeting some of her other professional development needs, from her ​social media​ and ​Web 2.0​ tools.

Social anthropologists, ​Lave & Wenger​ studied naturally-formed learning environments which they termed a ​community of practice​ (CoP). Like its CoP predecessor, an educational​ virtual community of practice​ (VCoP) has three(3) essential elements: community, domain, and the practice(s). Teachers (community) seek others with similar professional development needs (domain) and share teaching resources and techniques (practices).

Teachers have been naturally forming CoPs within their grade/subject-level teams. The dawn of the Internet allowed for the expansion of their CoPs to accept virtual counterparts from all over the globe. Typically, the group is solution-oriented and tends to listen to those “expert” members who have methods/resources that have been proven in the field.

Despite the natural presence of these CoPs in bringing about actual classroom-level change, few academic institutions recognize this model of professional development as a part of a teacher’s continuing education credits.

My daughter’s teacher was able

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Seton Education Partners: What did we do to get ahead of the curve on a COVID response? 

Commentary by: Stephanie Saroki de García, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Seton Education Partners

I expect that most everyone likes to think of themselves as being nimble and able to adapt to most any challenge.  The nasty COVID19 bug is putting that “thinking” to the test, as we now have to be “doing”. This is especially true for those of us involved in education. 

As the Managing Director of Seton Education Partners I’m proud  to say  we reacted both nimbly and intelligently – though obviously not without hiccups. Seton is a national network of character rich, academically excellent, and—for those families who choose it, faith-nurturing—schools. We work in underserved communities at the elementary and middle school levels and  a new Catholic academy – Romero – that will open this fall in Ohio.

So what did we do to get ahead of the curve on a COVID response?  Early on we realized  our “constituents” – largely minority and lower income kids and families – would be hard hit by the virus and be the most likely not to have access to the technology or tools for remote and digital learning. We needed to be “early responders” in equipping our kids  to seamlessly continue their learning. 

It took “all hands on deck” effort, so before most school closures were even announced  we created an Emergency Task Force of  key leaders.  It wasn’t rocket science to know we didn’t want kids going home without the tools to continue  learning immediately, so we sent them home with backpacks full of books and two weeks worth of learning materials. We developed a  plan and tiered resources  to send to leaders and teachers in waves. All of our schools were already blended learning schools, so we leveraged our existing relationships  with

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Previously Published on Forbes | March 13, 2020
By Jeanne Allen, Founder and CEO of CER

Every challenge is an opportunity, they say. I’ve been thinking about the impact of the coronavirus, and the kinds of tools and services that could be focused on ensuring that students don’t miss a beat in their learning. COVID-19 has brought home the reality  that education technology that delivers great content and engages students and teachers has never been more important. While many education systems have resisted changing their 150-year-old structure, necessity now compels them to do what declining student achievement could not. Thousands of entrepreneurs and innovations can help our students keep moving in their educational journey no matter where this virus disruption takes them. While we are all upset by this global problem, we can and we must overcome it. And fortunately the tools to do so are at hand.

Reinventing Education

In the field of education technology, most products and services on the market work to improve the educational experiences of students, instructors or managers. Far fewer are intended to ensure the educational experience can continue for each student on their own, in the event of choice — or necessity.

Higher education is the exception. University students have had access to advanced and interactive curricula online for at least a decade, though many institutions are still slow getting to the party. In reflecting on the current situation, Andrea Leone-Pizzighella, who manages English language instruction remotely in Italy for the University

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