Partnership to support Mich. educators in remote teaching

January 12, 2021

“Even as schools are moving to face-to-face instruction, there is still a need for remote teaching support,” says Michigan State University Professor Aman Yadav.

It is why he, and several other faculty from the College of Education, are partnering with Godfrey-Lee Public Schools in Wyoming, Mich. to create and provide professional learning on remote instruction.

Working together, MSU scholars and Godfrey-Lee teachers and leadership are identifying and addressing issues teachers face regarding remote learning and instruction.

“Teachers are doing an incredible job in this unique time, but it hasn’t been an easy transition,” explained Yadav, co-director of the Master of Arts in Educational Technology (MAET) program. The MSU team also includes MAET’s Candace Robertson, Brittany Dillman and Liz Boltz.

Aman Yadav

With the sudden shift to K-12 remote teaching in spring 2020, and the continued flux of remote, hybrid and in-person instruction in the following months, “teachers are trying to adapt; they have developed or expanded upon their use of various technologies in the classroom,” Yadav said. “But how can we engage teachers in more meaningful ways, that shows deeper uses of technology in education to support remote students?”

The partnership will yield quick results: the pilot of the professional learning model for K-12 teachers began at Godfrey-Lee in November 2020, while simultaneously MSU faculty are building web-based resources for further support. In the 2021-22 academic year, the professional learning model will be expanded further into Michigan schools.

“The support we’ve received from MSU has been tremendous,” said Kevin Polston, B.A. ’01, superintendent of the Godfrey-Lee school district. Godfrey-Lee and MSU had previously collaborated on Yadav’s computational thinking work—so when teachers were asking for support with online instruction, continued collaboration was an easy and effective solution.

Kevin Polston

At Godfrey-Lee, about 50% of families selected to do virtual learning for the 2020-21 academic year. Because of constraints for in-person learning, that means an average of about 40 students in the elementary virtual classroom.

“You hear a lot about the amount of learning lost during this pandemic. We want students to come out on the other side with the necessary learning to be successful for the rest of their academic career and lives,” Polston added. “Our responsibility, as educators, is to do everything we can to deliver high-quality education, especially during a pandemic. The partnership with MSU is helping achieve that goal.”

Transforming knowledge, changing lives

The partnership, funded by Michigan State University’s Office of the Provost, builds on additional work by MSU and the College of Education to support K-12 educators throughout Michigan and beyond.

The MAET program launched the free Mini-MOOC for educators in March 2020 to support remote instruction. More than 1,760 educators from around the globe have participated in the program, but the self-paced nature doesn’t always fit the unique needs of an educator or a school.

“We don’t want to give a blanket, one-size-fits-all approach,” Yadav continued. “Our team is trying to adapt practices of teaching online for Godfrey-Lee’s teachers. We want to use this opportunity to meet our land-grant mission of supporting local schools in Michigan, but also more broadly understand what issues teachers are facing when using technology to support student learning. That is not something that will go away, whether schools are in person or virtual or some combination thereof.”

When teachers are better supported in their mode of instruction, Yadav believes the better the learning experience will be for students. That is the heart of the MAET mini-MOOC and this new partnership: creating high-quality learning experiences in any mode of instruction.

“This is just the first step,” Yadav said about the partnership and its goals for Michigan educators and beyond. “We want to transform knowledge to practice and change lives for all students.”

Learning resources

Related news