Ask the expert: online learning vs classroom learning | MSU Today


Christine greenhow, associate professor of educational technology in the College of Education, and 2018 recipient of the MSU Teacher-Scholar Award, answers questions about online and classroom learning during our second school year in the face of the pandemic.

What does the new K-12 school year look like in terms of online or in-person communication?

The return to a “new, relatively normal”The school year is anything but. As educators, parents and students, we have the opportunity to rethink what education can and should be like.

With the delta variant of COVID-19 peaking cases and hospitalizations across the United States, concerns over mask warrants, vaccination status, breakthrough infections and the growing vulnerability of children under 12 who do not have the opportunity to get vaccinated, all of this causes uncertainty as schools resume. Already, schools in some states have temporarily closed. Many offer in-person and online learning options, and families are register. We have the opportunity to be smarter in the way we educate, incorporating what we have learned from a year of distance teaching and learning.

What are the new opportunities and challenges of online learning?

After running to reduce barriers to online teaching and learning since the spring of 2020, K-12 education is expected to continue pushing for expanded technology infrastructure, teacher development, and student development. virtual learning options to improve long-term education. For learners who prefer or cannot attend school in person for various reasons, the continuous option of virtual learning, with trained teachers and supported families, is an opportunity for continuous improvement.. In addition, the rise of teleworking is here to stay; with e-learning we have the opportunity to prepare students for their future jobs.

The challenges are that students need high-quality, multiple interactions with teachers, peers, and subjects when in-person classes move online, which requires an overhaul of teaching. We know from research that pedagogy is important. Educators can’t just scan the textbook, record the lesson, upload it, and expect the same or better learning.

Teachers need to distill their key goals and take advantage of technological features to achieve them. Well used – online chat, discussion forums, replayable video lessons, online meetings, etc. But educators, students and their families will need continued investment in advice and supports.

Have we, as a country, closed the Internet access gap in urban / rural neighborhoods?

According to the National Internet Access Surveys, we have made progress in rural areas with more broadband at home and greater use of mobile technology, but not as much change in urban and suburban areas, and the gaps between rural, suburban and urban areas persist.

To bring students and teachers online, schools have provided tablets, laptops, mobile Wi-Fi hotspots and other resources, but inequalities persist, which in turn predicted persistent gaps in the quality of students’ online and offline learning experiences.

What have we learned from two years of distance learning?


We learned that
connection and community are the key. At the start of the pandemic, K-12 online education included few synchronous ‘live’ interactions between teachers and students as teachers put materials online and quickly rethink approaches, but over time, the level of interaction increased to promote student engagement.t.

We also learned that building community through technology is so important. In the absence of school-based training, for example, teachers turned to teachers on social media for answers to their questions. We have learned that ssocial media platforms can play an important role in the learning.

Now that the majority of teachers have incorporated some form of distance learning, we should take advantage of the pedagogical benefits that distance learning has revealed, while reducing costs.

What do we know about the learning loss during these two years?

This question is difficult to answer. Indeed, some teachers and students wonder: Loss of what? Loss for whom? Who wins now? These are questions because their online schooling experience has resulted in gains of all kinds. We have the chance to think how we typically taught, assessed and held students accountable for their learning, and rethinking who loses and who wins from returning to the past.

How can teachers better use social media in education?

Before the pandemic, teachers had a lot of flexibility in how much and whether to teach online and personalize students’ digital learning. Students have largely pursued their interests and opportunities outside of school on social media through YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and other platforms.

But the pandemic has forced American teachers and students into some form of online teaching and learning. The teachers themselves have researched personal and professional digital learning networks on social media to meet their needs, especially to learn from other teachers outside their district who had more experience teaching online.

Seeing the value of social media for their own just-in-time learning and strengthening their community can pave the way for the use of social media in their teaching. Teachers can use social media to stay in touch with their students and help students stay in touch with each other. Teachers can use social media to teach students about citizenship and how to critically participate in civic conversations.

In short, we shouldn’t be thinking of ‘online learning versus classroom learning’ – like either one – but how to combine them, in the best possible way, to meet students, families and educators where they are now.


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