Office of Technology plays crucial role in virtual learning; Start of the year showcases digital instruction


    Mrs. Alyssa King is one of three teacher specialists who work for the Office of Instructional Technology, which is now part of Organization Development in the Department of Curriculum. According to King, her team “supports district leaders, staff, teachers, and the school community at large in the access and instructional use of district technology platforms.”

     At the start of the year, King says the district had hoped that all students would be given a laptop. “Because of the nationwide demand and delay in delivery of Chromebook laptops, HCPS had to start the year with many families opting to have their students use personal devices,” King states. The remaining devices are expected to arrive at schools and will be issued to any student still in need of a school laptop within the next month.

    “Itslearning is a full LMS, where the curriculum is built and housed, and scheduled courses with rosters are published to and periodically updated for the teacher,” she explains. All of the resources and feedback tools have been built for personalized learning, feedback, and reporting, according to King.    

     Benefits of virtual learning include the ability for students to revisit curricular resources anytime, states King. In addition, students can work at a more independent pace, and data about Gen Z students indicate that they prefer more independent learning.

     King shares that at a time when the world has been crippled by COVID, in terms of not being able to “see each other” in safer, face to face environments, Microsoft Teams video conferencing (virtual learning) has allowed teachers to interact with their students live.

    “Once we get through these barriers, the live teaching and interactions between our teachers and students are giving us the best possible scenario for learning when face to face school cannot happen,” she expressed.

     According to King, screen time can produce “too much cognitive load” on learners who can only take in so much information from the screen before learning can be hindered. “Our system PD has provided guidelines for teachers and curricular offices about quality digital design that reduces cognitive load,” King stated. Many curricular offices and instructional leaders are encouraging breaks from screen time when class isn’t in session.

    Another concern about virtual learning is the possibility of students missing an entire live class as a result of network issues. As a solution, King describes that “‘many teachers are giving students extensions to complete work, or following up with students in small groups in order to catch them up if needed.” 

     She reports that some teachers are recording themselves outside of synchronous virtual learning sessions and curating videos in itslearning.  This way students receive important, more personalized instruction from their teacher, describes King.