While personalized learning will be a bright spot, it won't be an easy feat, Dr. Herring says, because teachers will need to develop plans around the unique needs and circumstances of every child—and household. The focus will be not just on the learning but also on student progress, and students, teachers, and caregivers will all serve as co-owners.
With many states deciding not to give summative assessments this year, it also becomes difficult to authentically assess what children know and can do and what additional supports they need, Hipps says. This is especially important because SEL and academic development are deeply intertwined.
"We have to understand that without the right types of data and authentic assessment, then we run into a situation where we're not equipping educators with information they need to be responsive," Hipps says. "That's going to be an ongoing question in several dimensions."
How Can Interrupted Learning Be Addressed?
For one thing, addressing the interrupted learning that has occurred among students due to the pandemic should focus on the whole child, Dr. Herring says. She says schools need certain resources in place to help students engage, even if this needs to be done in the virtual format, through programs or services tied to mental health or student disabilities.
Another important need for educators: meeting children where they are and finding appropriate data to identify where student performance lies. But EdTech needs to do more than just provide the information. Educators need to be able to monitor student progress as their performance hopefully improves, whether in literacy or math.
"We want to have access to platforms that provide an opportunity to truly see growth, to be able to speak to what it is, to be able to acknowledge that growth, and not just from a visual standpoint but from an analytical standpoint," Dr. Herring says. The information needs to be easy for a teacher, student, or a parent or caregiver to digest, and an individualized learning plan can be created. Programs that help students build connections will be important now and in the future.
Fields agreed with Dr. Herring on a very important point: EdTech is not a substitute for building connections with students. "On our best day," he says, "what we should be striving to do is help facilitate better human relationships and interactions."
Learning didn't stop during the pandemic. It just took new forms. This article is part of a series of resources focused on COVID learning recovery and designed to help you plan now for summer school and next year.