TUCSON, Ariz. — Many parents and students are navigating the world of online education for the first time. The University of Arizona has been offering online courses for many years and has been ramping up that area since the start of the pandemic. In this Safely Back to School, we talk to the experts on digital learning and ask how it can be successful for K-12 students.
Technology cannot replicate face-to-face learning perfectly, but the experts say digital learning has benefits.
“I think everything else can be done really well online, and sometimes I think it can be even better,” said Associate Vice Provost for Digital Learning Melody Buckner.
Buckner says online education can allow college students to learn at their own pace. But can it work for k-12???
“I think a lot of the methods we use can be applied in high school pretty easily but when you get to K-5 it can be very challenging.”
Buckner says it can work despite some obvious challenges. In fact, they are currently designing courses for how to teach K-12 online. She also recommends "learning to teach online" a free online course currently offered by The University of New South Wales.
“Basic principles of learning may need to be adapted for ages and maturity, but a lot of learning is very similar,” said Associate Vice Provost for Instruction and Assessment Lisa Elfring.
Elfring says teaching techniques like breaking into small groups and practice quizzes are all possible online. Small adjustments can be made for younger students.
“We limit the time on the screen, we engage with them, we give them activities to do and then allow them to go do activities,” said Buckner.
Younger students will likely need a parent to keep them on track while learning digitally. Buckner says a phone call or FaceTime conversation with the teacher might help little ones feel more connected to the course.
“Making that connection to the students, yes this school year will be different, we can still learn, still have fun and still interact with each other.”