New web site helps K-12 teachers move between online, classroom

LANSING—Michigan Virtual’s Learning Continuity Work Group announced the release of a new website to help Michigan educators prepare for the coming academic year. Keep Michigan Learning provides a collection of free resources to help teachers and school administrators assess their remote teaching readiness, guide decisions about online learning platforms, and access a crowdsourced  K-12 digital content repository.

Launched in April, the 25-member Statewide Learning Continuity Work Group is composed of experienced teachers, principals, superintendents, technology directors, and other leaders who possess a deep understanding of instructional design, online and blended learning, and non-traditional delivery models.

Over the past three months, the panel of experts created the tools housed at Keep Michigan Learning to help plan for the return to school in the fall that will support fluid face-to-face, hybrid and 100 percent online teaching strategies that may need to shift with little notice based on public health data.

The Work Group is co-chaired by John VanWagoner, superintendent of Traverse City Public Schools, and David Richards, former superintendent of the Fraser Public Schools and president of Core2Edge LLC, a Clinton, Minn.-based K-12 education consulting firm.

Michigan Virtual, formally known as Michigan Virtual University, provides online courses for Michigan students, professional development for educators and is the parent organization of the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute. It is a nonprofit organization with more than 20 years of experience.

“Schools are facing historic challenges as they work over the summer months to develop plans to serve students with quality learning options for the 2020-21 school year,” said Jamey Fitzpatrick, president and CEO of Michigan Virtual. “On behalf of all teachers and administrators in Michigan, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to members of the Learning Continuity Work Group who volunteered countless hours to develop practical tools and resources to share with their colleagues statewide. COVID-19 has been a brutal and disruptive force for our schools and has negatively impacted educators, students, and parents. Working together, I am confident we can leverage our collective energy and ingenuity to make lemonade out of lemons. We have an opportunity to think outside the box and develop impactful learning models for all students while keeping them healthy.”

Added Gerald Hill, superintendent of the West Bloomfield School District and a member of the work group: “We owe it to our children to find a way to give them quality educational options during this pandemic. We are in uncharted waters and there is significant value in convening a group of thought leaders from around the state to examine barriers and identify practical solutions. No one has all the answers and we need to rely on each other to get through this difficult period. I am very impressed by the initial resources developed by the work group. I know school leaders will find them useful.”

School administrators are encouraged to visit Keep Michigan Learning to utilize the following free resources:

  • A Teacher Self-Assessment Tool and Personalized Professional Development Playlist Generator that asks teachers to evaluate their readiness to effectively reach and teach students in a remote or blended learning environment. Upon filling out this checklist, teachers will receive an automated playlist of PD options based on their unique growth areas.
  • A Learning Management System K-12 Selection Guide that will help educators and school leaders decide which learning management system (LMS) is the right fit for their school or district if they are prepared to implement an LMS, and how popular LMSs compare to one another to determine which path forward will be best for their school.
  • A Crowdsourced K-12 Digital Content Repositorythat contains resources listed by fellow educators and can be used to find, share, and rate both free and paid digital content options that can be used in the K-12 classroom.

In addition to developing these resources for school leaders, the Work Group is also conducting qualitative research that captures human stories and identifies key knowledge gaps to help influence possible solutions for new delivery models with the help of Sundberg-Ferar, a Commerce Township-based design firm. A report of those findings will be published in the coming weeks.

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