It’s certain that 2020 will in part be remembered for COVID-19, but hopefully this post will fast become a relic of the time when much of the world stood on the edge of panic that an epidemic was rampant and whole cities could be placed into self-quarantine. Today, several companies are asking employees to work from home, to avoid their office cafes, and to avoid face-to-face meetings. Then there is the younger generation: children. What happens if a school has to close for an extended period because someone was exposed to the virus?

School Closures

Already, some colleges have sent students home for an early, extended Spring Break. Some K-12 schools in the US have closed for a day of disinfectant cleaning when learning of a potential exposure. What is the next step in escalation? K-12 public school children are mandated to have a set number of class days each year, and in the States, that's roughly 180 days. So, if whole districts needed to close for a few weeks while communities are in quarantine, can learning continue?

Flipping the Classroom

Learning certainly can continue, and it may even change the way education is delivered. The concept of “flipping the classroom” isn’t new. Our local school district has explored this approach in the last few years, with a purpose of providing a better learning experience for students. For those unfamiliar, it’s very similar to the way university-level classes are delivered online. In a flipped classroom, the students watch the lecture and demonstrations provided by the instructor online. This may be a live class with the students’ educator, or a recorded lesson hosted by a source deemed appropriate by the district’s educational staff. Students can access from any connected device, typically via browser and their student identification credentials. They view the lesson, can practice the assignments, and collaborate in private online forums.

From a student experience perspective, the flipped classroom philosophy is intended to allow the lecture to be viewed remotely, and the “homework” recitations to be performed in the classroom – giving the students and educators plenty of time to work on individual challenges. It eliminates the struggles of parents trying to help their children with assignments where the techniques may be different than they were a generation ago (US parents: if you’ve attempted to help your child with Common Core mathematics, you know what I mean). The approach allows the educator to see how each student is grasping each lesson, because they are able to see which students are struggling and which are not, as they practice their assignments.

Connected Devices

OK, so, why is this post on the Ivanti blog? Part of the reason the flipped classroom concept is viable is because of the broad access students have to connected devices. Between personal laptops, mobile devices, and school-provided devices that often are tablets or Chromebooks, the technology is there. As an educational institution, a critical component is managing those endpoints—particularly if deployed by your school, and securing the apps and systems students are asked to interact with for learning. In other words, school districts need to take strong measures to make sure student access is safe, and limited (where necessary). Implementing this kind of remote learning, even temporarily, is contingent upon providing a learning environment in which students can be productive, and productive in this case means “focused on learning”.

Whether the amount of global attention being given to COVID-19 is proved to be hype—or worse—we’ve got amazing technology at our fingertips. We can keep working, anywhere. We can still communicate, instantaneously. Economies will weather the cyclical slowdown and recession that may result. But we can also view this challenge as presenting opportunities to change our approach to work, and the learning techniques available to prepare future generations for the world they will inherit.