Distance Learning: early reviews, problems, and how we can help

By General Education Advice

What are the early reviews regarding distance learning?

Online learning is effective for what we call “check the box” learning. Most students move through assignments as quickly as possible to ensure completed work – 

the checked box – and then move on to video games, SnapChat, NetFlix, and every other online distraction. Their education is being short changed.  The expectation is on the student to self-educate. This does not work for the majority of students. The “learning” is being replaced by “just doing” the assignments.  This will have long term ramifications. Real learning emerges through discussion, question and answer interaction, and student teacher mentoring. This can still be done with educators virtually through Zoom and FaceTime.  Many of our clients have moved to this format.


How are the School Districts and parents dealing with the scholastic crisis?

School districts have been hit with a Black Swan event. Most individual educators and administrators are working above and beyond expectation.  The challenge is that most districts have had to create makeshift distance learning schools with bare minimum preparation time. As for parents, most are overwhelmed as they grapple with the amount of work being assigned, the overload of emails being sent, and the understandable confusion of their student-children regarding organization, prioritization, and grading.  Moreover, many students have reported feeling “stuck” when they are unsure how to proceed with an assignment. They get frustrated and the parents – many of whom are working from home – get irritated when interrupted, particularly when they cannot resolve their children’s problems.


What problems do you foresee for students?

Students will be expected to master material on their own. Most will not.  This crisis will create significant educational gaps for many students. Given our individual work, we often uncover past educational deficiencies with our students.  For example, while preparing for the SATs, we might discover that 11th grade students in a particular school system have a poor foundation in algebra. Some of these students will explain “we had a substitute teacher last year when our math teacher left unexpectedly.”  Now, most students in most districts will have the Covid-19 educational gap. This is a problem because students will still be required to have foundational knowledge in all subjects, particularly for those eventually taking AP tests and certainly for all math and language students. Moreover, students of all ages will need to continue to develop skills in math, reading and writing. This will not happen for most.


How are you helping parents and students?

Most of our students are keeping their similar tutoring schedule. We have added a different service within our Student Mastery Program.  Our Student Mastery coaches as well as some of our tutors spend 30 minutes each week with our students to organize, plan, and prioritize work. We also hold our students accountable for what works they should have done.  Parents have been delighted that we can help out in this way as we are saving them countless battles with their children. Our students have expressed gratitude that they have a real person teaching them as they feel highly disconnected from the educational process.  We are very happy that we can provide our parent and student clients help during this challenging time.