The current pandemic, coupled with a new Director at the Department of Education, is finally bringing about some much-needed change for Iowa education.
Online education must expand for a number of reasons, in addition to the current shutdown of schools. The countries that are out-educating us have already expanded online course offerings and are working to expand them further.
Online offerings can allow for a wider range of comparable YouTube videos of instruction that help the variety of student life experiences relate the concepts to their own lives — moving well beyond simply memorizing something because they have to (and jokingly calling it “education”).
In addition to the wider range of instructional videos and potential interactions in groups of various sizes, online instruction can bridge the time lost when bad weather closes schools, or students miss classes due to a variety of circumstances. As long as the videos remain available, students cannot only make up for the classes missed, but also watch these any number of times needed to further their understanding.
The types of activities in which students of all ages can engage (to further their understanding and relate to the concepts and applications) can be expanded. Online K-12 schools have been doing this for years while Iowa educators rejected online learning. With a new Director, and the current pandemic, this can now change.
In addition to K-12 schools, job training opportunities can be expanded so more workers can be prepared for a changed employment environment. The quality of education at all levels can be improved, and that can make a number of improvements to quality of life and the economy in Iowa.
Haven’t we spent more than enough time talking about upgrading the quality of our internet service, as well as making it more available to all? Making plans and taking action now can make a number of needed improvements for Iowa citizens. Reports being released on the Iowa Department of Education web site clearly show work on necessary planning beginning in these areas. They also show plans to use these improvements to finally close the achievement gaps in Iowa education that Iowa has so far been unable to close (but is required by the national government to do so).
Just as the pandemic has brought about some changes in the way we view and think about some things, how we educate must also be a part of this.