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Duval school leaders share tips for transitioning to remote learning

Microsoft Education Team
08 Jul 2020
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Duval school leaders share tips for transitioning to remote learning


Educators are preparing for the upcoming academic year following a spring in which remote learning became the norm. It’s uncertain whether that will continue this fall, but what’s clear is that hearing from peers who have mastered the sudden shift can be a powerful source of inspiration and ideas.

There is much to learn from Duval County Public Schools’ experience with remote learning. Educating a diverse population of 130,000 students in the Jacksonville area, Duval is often celebrated as a leader for increasing student achievement across subjects and student groups, personalizing learning, and supporting teachers.

Barbara Holzapfel, General Manager, Microsoft Education, recently joined district leaders for a conversation about Duval’s experience these past few months and what lies ahead.

Watch the clips from the interview below and hear Dr Diana Greene, Duval’s Superintendent, share advice on building a strategic remote learning plan anchored in strong digital tools like Microsoft Teams, engaging stakeholders, and supporting teachers through professional learning opportunities. Dr Greene was joined by Kathy Hart, Duval’s Director of Technology Innovation, and Jim Culbert, the district’s Chief Information Officer.

Prepare for and embrace change

As schools begin to develop and refine remote or hybrid learning paths, Microsoft Education has free resources to help you along this journey.

When asked what tips they’d like to share with other school system leaders, the Duval team recommended embracing—rather than fearing—change, while investing time and resources on a strong plan for going to remote or hybrid learning.

“Develop a comprehensive plan,” advises Dr Greene. “This will not happen overnight. We were able to transition overnight because of the foundation that was set, the decision to utilize Microsoft Teams.”

Watch the Duval’s team advice for colleagues around the world here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcIANH7BIXE 

Readiness is critical, including equitable access to devices

School leaders, like those in Duval who successfully shifted to remote teaching and learning, say they can rest a little easier now, knowing they are ready to move instruction to a remote or hybrid environment whenever the need arises.

“The thing that I really like is knowing that we have the ability to shift on a dime now to online learning, if it requires, for any situation,” Jim Culbert said.

But Duval leaders caution that, despite efforts to ensure all students had devices and hotspots this spring, inequities remain and must be addressed in Florida and globally.

Watch the Duval’s team explain how they keep up to date with new technical changes here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNfDtYgwxEo 

Support meaningful professional learning opportunities for teachers

Duval has been using Microsoft Education resources systemwide for about five years. Three years ago, Kathy Hart led a major push to support educators in getting training through Microsoft Innovative Educator Programs. As teachers receive certifications, they go on to help other teachers in acquiring the skills and knowledge they need to weave new tech tools into their practice. The effort has paid off in numerous ways, including recently when some Duval teachers sought support from their peers in leveraging resources to aid remote learning.

Watch the Duval team describe their PD goals prior to the Pandemic and how they have changed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I15a3yvZ9dE 


Communicate and collaborate with Teams

In a large district like Duval, it can be challenging to consistently and effectively collaborate and communicate with all stakeholders. But Dr Greene says the school system has accomplished so much in this area during this period of remote learning through the use of Microsoft Teams, which supports small and large group video conversations, collaborative work, and more.

Watch the Duval team describe some positive changes from quarantine here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iWifZNLgUo 

To hear more about Duval’s remote learning journey, check out the full interview full video with the district’s leadership team on YouTube. Follow Microsoft Education on Twitter at @MicrosoftEDU for daily news, tips, and educator stories.

This article was originally posted on Microsoft Education’s blog on June 25 2020. You can read the original article here.


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