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On the Horizon: Virtual Instruction

August 01, 2020 7:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

From what I have observed, it appears that schools spent much of the summer preparing for face-to-face or hybrid instruction, focusing on issues surrounding the physical safety of students and staff. However, with the uptick of the spread of COVID-19 around the country and slowly increasing numbers in Chicagoland, many schools have made last-minute decisions to return to all-virtual instruction. Our schools will have to quickly come up with plans for virtual learning that will last for several months, if not more.

I am not new to online instruction, as I am beginning my ninth year as a Music Appreciation instructor at Illinois Virtual School (IVS), a public, nonprofit, supplemental course provider that offers courses to private, public, and home schools across Illinois. I also facilitate professional development courses for Quality Matters (QM), an international organization focused on providing quality online learning experiences. There has been great demand this summer for professional development courses, and I have been busy running workshops about the QM K-12 standards, teaching online, and designing online courses.

It used to be that I would get quizzical looks when I told people that I taught online, but things changed this spring. However, what we all experienced last spring was emergency online instruction. There are many misconceptions out there about virtual instruction, and schools may not realize how much support will be necessary for teachers to be truly successful teaching online. I think it's a matter of "they don't know what they don't know." People honestly don't realize that online instruction is a very different kind of pedagogy with its own set of best practices. Hopefully, schools will see the need to provide specialized training, but until then, we may need to give teachers a bit of patience and grace as they move into a more long-term virtual space.

If you are interested in learning more about virtual instruction from those who are specialists in the field, these are the best, most reputable resources that I am aware of:

Quality Matters and the Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance are some of the major organizations in the field of K-12 online education.

There is also a set of National Standards for Quality Online Learning, a cooperative effort between QM and VLLA, which replace the old iNACOL standards.

Illinois Virtual School  offers self-paced courses about online and blended learning for a reasonable price. The Northwestern Center for Talent Development has been offering a series of webinars through the Illinois Association for Gifted Children and the Illinois Principals Association regarding online instruction for advanced learners. Northwestern CTD will also consult with schools.

You might even consider passing along these sources of information, professional development, and training to the teachers and administrators in your life.


  • August 02, 2020 10:31 AM | Newenka DuMont (Administrator)
    Wow - who knew that the pedagogy would be completely different when you move to online education! This is good to know. Thank you for enlightening us!
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  • August 02, 2020 11:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Thank you. I passed this along to my school community.
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  • August 03, 2020 1:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Great information and insight. Thank you for sharing your expertise and knowledge with the group.
    Link  •  Reply

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