When Arlington Public Schools teachers and students found themselves needing to learn from home and apart, technology skills and directors were called to service.
District Technology Director Kurt Sanders, experienced the shift firsthand.
"It was certainly a fast introduction to a new method in teaching in the last couple of weeks," he said. "We are blessed here at APS to have administrators and staff who didn't even blink an eye and got to work immediately on how they were going to deliver eLearning to our students."
Sanders said by the end of last week, teaching staff had in place their methods for delivering assignments and materials. Most are now working at home, with office hours from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. "They are sending out the material and are available to answer questions from students and parents during those hours via email," Sanders said. "We are in the early stages, along with everyone else in the state, but from what I've observed so far, we are having successful results."
Sanders said they have handed out 32 laptops for families with limited access to devices, and still have a few left if anyone is in need.
"We are finalizing the process of identifying who still needs one and hoping to get those to them this week," he said. "Selectel Wireless and American Broadband are working with the school to identify families who do not currently have internet access at home to bring them that piece of technology."
Sanders said the staff is technologically adept to handle this challenge.
"Since we're a Google Apps for Education school, most were already using Google Classroom to deliver instructional material to students," he said. "This will continue in a broader format during the students' time away from the building. Again, it's early in the process, but I've not heard from any families needing help getting setup to access the online materials."
Sanders said many educational software vendors have made their sites free to schools during this time, so the teachers have a wealth of different resources to use which will make the lessons varied and more interesting.
"The challenge will come in a couple of weeks when students start to tire of 'the same old thing' every day, but our staff is incredibly creative when it comes to thinking 'outside the box,'" he said. "I'm confident they will continue to come up with innovative lessons to hold their students' interest through this time."