Fifty-five million students in the United States are home due to the COVID-19 global health pandemic. Schools around the country not only had to pivot to remote learning quickly, but they have had to evaluate what, why, and how students learn.
As part of our COVID-19 webinar series, Code.org Founder and CEO Hadi Partovi joined us to discuss what schools need to consider as they plan to reopen their doors and reimagine education for the 21st century. Hadi shared some great insights and tips for parents and teachers and provided background on Code.org's efforts to expand access to computer science for underrepresented groups.
Below are three key takeaways from the conversation:
1. Computer science makes schools better
Two hundred years ago when the traditional school model was created, computers did not exist. Today, computers are part of our everyday life; we use them for school, work, and play. However, only about 47% of public schools teach computer science. Computer science is a core skill that helps students improve in math, science, and reading, and studies have shown that students who study computer science are more likely to go to college. Hadi's vision for the future of education includes computer science as a core subject. He also encourages schools to consider teaching computer science and think critically about what we want kids to learn and why.
Hadi asks us to consider what foundational skills students need to have in the Information Age and how schools can ensure that every student is ready for the new global economy.
2. Learn the tech tools
Teachers and students alike had to adapt to teaching and learning online quickly. However, most teachers don't have the training necessary to teach online.
This brings us to Hadi's second consideration for reimagining schools—that teachers must learn new technology tools and keep current with online resources to help supplement in-school learning. Our students live in a digital world, and schools must adapt to learning in that environment.
Embracing new online learning tools will free up time for teachers to mentor students and get students invested in their learning. It also answers the age-old question about how we keep students engaged.
The answer, in this case, is meeting them where they are: online.
3. Plan for every student to have a device
Whether reopening in the summer or the fall, schools are beginning to lay out plans for opening their doors. And the final factor that Hadi urges schools to consider is a plan for every student to have a device.
Planning for every student to have a device is not just an urgency for this global pandemic, but it is a requirement for next year and the years to come. Students falling behind in their studies because they've missing months of learning should not happen due to a lack of technology. The CARES act has allocated 12 billion dollars that schools can use towards bridging the digital divide.
Hadi also suggests creating partnerships with tech companies that can provide devices directly to students and nonprofits that receive computer donations and can give them to students in need.
Sindy Pierre-Noel is the senior manager of programs at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.