The lesson for teachers thinking about remote assignments is the value of having students make their own movies. Those assignments, done right, immerse students in research. While gaining expertise, they acquire and sharpen creative skills that come naturally to their generation.
Steeltown, a nonprofit I co-founded, has been partnering with middle schools, high schools and nonprofits for more than a decade doing similar projects. Through hands-on, project-based learning, students have deepened their knowledge about the environment, history, hunger, social justice and other subjects aligned with their school assignments.
3. Tailor education to meet students’ needs
U.S. Math Olympiad coach Po-Shen Loh, another Carnegie Mellon professor, created a new learning platform called Expii. It customizes the way students learn by showing them various videos and tracking which ones they learn best from.
Several years ago, Loh and I enlisted high school students from across the Pittsburgh region to help make a video that would illustrate the Pythagorean Theorem. The students came up with a video of a kid who misses a bus and with a quick calculation involving a hypotenuse, makes it to the next stop in plenty of time. It’s an example of how students are not only able to work through complex problems, but also help their peers learn — once they feel empowered.
Because people can learn differently, virtual instruction should be an opportunity to find what works best for each student.
4. Expand access to tech
Curiosity is increasingly important, as award-winning video game designer Jesse Schell has explained. “We have the entire field of human knowledge available at the touch of a button,” Schell said. It “gives the curious children an insane advantage because anything they would like to learn about they can learn, just like that.”
But Schell worries about what he calls a “curiosity gap:” When a child’s curiosity isn’t stimulated and they lack access to this digital universe, they can fall behind.
Providing all students with access to Wi-Fi and top-notch devices is starting to happen because of this pandemic, but this crisis could become a great equalizer. Even after COVID-19 is under control, I believe that every child who goes to school, whether in a brick-and-mortar building or from their own home, deserves access to the internet and their own iPad, laptop or desktop computer.
Just as TV stations are required by the Children’s Television Act to broadcast educational programs like “Bill Nye: The Science Guy” in exchange for their licenses, in my opinion, internet providers and other tech companies should also have to do more to help close the digital divide.
This article first appeared in The Conversation and was picked up by 28 publications since then, says author Carl Kurlander.