Middle School Remote Learning
I am writing to share both our thinking and our concrete plans for remote learning in Middle School courses. Thank you all for your continued care, consideration, and partnership in this challenging time.
Please note: For the handful of Middle School students who take classes in our Upper School, please read the Upper School remote learning page.
Dr. Josh Deitch
Head of Middle School
Our remote learning program, KingIsHome, has launched successfully and we are getting accustomed to learning via new tools and new communication vehicles. Aside from our physical distance from one another, another shift to how King teachers and students are teaching and learning remotely is how we all are using time.
Read Josh Deitch's recent email on the KingIsHome Middle School program.
The use of time by any class may be described along a spectrum between synchronous and asynchronous.
In fully synchronous learning, “participants interact at the same time and in the same space” — that space may be real, as in a classroom on campus, or virtual, as in a videoconference. Fully synchronous learning might be thought of as “live,” in the same sense as a live broadcast.
In fully asynchronous learning, participants interact in elapsed time, as we do with email, online discussion forums, blogs, podcasts, etc. Learners are not together with each other or participating in the same activities all at the same moment.1
1Definitions derive from The Aurora Institute (formerly iNACOL: the International Association for K-12 Online Learning): http://www.aurora-institute.org/wp-content/uploads/iNACOL_DefinitionsProject.pdf
King Is Home Online versus King On Campus
King’s model of learning when we can be on campus is mostly synchronous: students attend synchronous classes and then complete mostly asynchronous homework assignments. Our KingIsHome model online will be mostly asynchronous.
Why the Shift to Mostly Asynchronous?
Two of our reasons are very practical and derive from this extraordinary moment in history:
- First, King does not assume that we can control people’s time at home as tightly as our daily schedule does at school.
- Second, as so many people shift to working and learning remotely, we expect the unprecedented traffic will strain Web infrastructure from people’s homes all the way to the servers of major service providers. Synchronous video conferencing, which contributes heavily to that load, may not be a reliable default mode.
Our third reason comes from King’s deeply student-centered philosophy and our concern that videoconference technology — at least by default — generally translates to teacher-centered delivery. While we will use synchronous videoconferencing to keep students feeling connected to one another and their teachers (which is also deeply important to King’s philosophy), we will shift to assigning more asynchronous work — that still involves expectations to meet common deadlines, and often still involves collaboration with classmates — and leveraging the immense power of feedback on that work to drive each student’s learning forward.
For the duration of the school campus closure, we are adopting an alternating two-day schedule:
- Advisory groups will require a synchronous session each morning 9:30-9:45 a.m.
- “Major” courses will require at least one but no more than three synchronous sessions weekly, and may set deadlines every-other-weekday at 10:00 a.m.
- “Minor” courses will assign work that can be done on a bi-weekly basis. They will also offer optional explorations and optional synchronous sessions.
Students are required to attend these sessions, but we will work with students and families whose situations make such synchronous learning situations impossible or untenable.
In this context, students will be expected to attend a live, video advisory session every morning 9:30-9:45 a.m. At this time, advisors will take attendance and check in with their advisees, as we would do at the beginning of every school day.
The following infographic should be a helpful at glance guide to our plans:
- When may assignments be due?
- Will King Hold Live, “Real-Time” Class Meetings?
- How much work may a course assign, and how often?
- How will work be conducted?
- How will students be supported?
- What is a typical day with the KingIsHome remote learning program in MS?
- What is the program for Athletics, health, wellness, and remote training?
- What is the approach to grades and communicating academic progress?
- What can families do?
- What technology is needed for remote learning?
- Who do I contact with questions?