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Letter: Technology-based learning will be part of our future

Letter: Technology-based learning will be part of our future

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4. Work and learn in the location of your choice.

We’ve all learned new skills during the pandemic. We now know that the career can stay on track when we work remotely and that the kids can learn outside the classroom. So in the year ahead, research tells us that more families will choose to spend longer periods of time in far-flung places, taking meetings from a hammock and learning in the local environment. Resorts are making it easier by offering packages that encourage “educations” and “work from hotel” options.

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When the Covid-19 pandemic closed Niagara Falls City School District (NFCSD) school, educators were faced with the immediate challenge of creating an engaging virtual learning experience while maintaining strong lines of communication between instructors and students. Practically every teacher became a first-year teacher when distance learning took hold.

The NFCSD’s information technology (IT) team and our technology integrators embraced the challenge immediately and embarked on a rigorous training plan for teachers. Our team provided extensive professional development for our teachers that the district dubbed “Spring Training.” IT faced the challenge of introducing distance learning techniques to teachers who had varying degrees of technology know-how. Our tech-savvy teachers easily created their own websites (or already had them) and quickly grasped the Microsoft Office 365 platform; other teachers thrived with more training. We had to even the playing field.

By the end of the summer, all of our teachers had received extensive training in website development, Microsoft Office 365, and other virtual learning tools. The NFCSD did not run into delays starting the school year as some other districts did because we had a comprehensive, rigorous plan to train our teachers well in advance of September.

The “crash course” in distance learning that evolved out the pandemic fast forwarded the inevitable – technology-based learning is here to stay. Continuous professional development and support will keep the NFCSD stationed at the head of the class when it comes to technology.

Mark Laurrie, Superintendent

Niagara Falls City School District

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