What is continuous learning?
Continuous learning is the belief that every student deserves to have learning continue, even if in-person schooling is interrupted. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, technology—from online meeting software to educational apps—allowed extension of the boundaries of the classroom. “School” is no longer limited to brick-and-mortar spaces. Teaching and learning will—and should—happen in virtual or remote environments. This is continuous learning.
And it is likely here to stay.
How continuous learning changes education
Before COVID-19—and certainly before smart phones and widely available internet—education was limited to in-person classroom activities and homework. While classroom activities could take a variety of forms, from whole-class instruction to small group work to independent practice, homework was largely limited to isolated, independent practice.
Remote and hybrid instruction have changed—if not erased—this division of instruction and practice. In a remote environment, students may get very little whole-class instruction. Instead, many teachers are employing much more 1:1 instruction, group activities that have both synchronous and asynchronous components, and project-based learning (PBL) that can be done either independently or in groups.
More importantly, perhaps, is that educators are now asked to accelerate learning for all students to make up for lost instructional time. Teaching to grade level when teaching whole-class means that many teachers will use high-dosage tutoring, adaptive practice, and focus skill instruction when teaching 1:1 or asking students to work independently.
Using technology to support continuous learning
To support this kind of agile and nimble instruction, educators have turned to apps, cloud-based software, and other online instructional materials. They need tools designed for effective teaching and learning on-screen. Traditional print media or print/digital hybrids have been seen as more difficult to implement successfully.
When you can’t see your students face-to-face, it’s harder to tell if they’re “getting it,” teachers told us at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. We need quick, easy-to-launch assessments that give us the information we need to differentiate instruction the way we would in the classroom, they added.
When educators can’t observe their students on task in the classroom, they appreciate apps and cloud-based software that can report minutes engaged and show students’ depth of work and proficiency on each skill.
While remote or virtual instruction cannot replicate the magic of a classroom—there’s something special about being among others, as we know now better than ever—it can provide students with the guidance they need to explore, to discover, and to practice key skills. And it can provide teachers with the insights they need to ensure that learning does, in fact, continue.