Free 'Virtual Teaching Academy' aims to help educators hone online instruction skills

Laptops could soon be banned on all flights
Posted at 3:37 PM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 14:58:50-04

GLENDALE, AZ — As families wait to learn what "back to school" will look like come July or August, districts across the state are preparing to continue remote learning, in some capacity, regardless of reopening plans.

"It's just very difficult when you've spent the entire year making very personal connections with all these kids, to now just be able to interact with them over the computer," said Kelley Fisher, a kindergarten teacher at Las Brisas Elementary School in Glendale.

Like so many educators, Fisher misses teaching her students in class, on campus.

"It's very different, everything is a game, everything has to be active and fun and quick, very quick," said Fisher.

She is finding a way to make it work and even launched her own YouTube channel so students can see and hear her any time. Still, even with 22 years of teaching experience, Fisher says the quick switch to remote learning has not been easy.

"The way we're doing it right now, I think it works in the short term," she said. "We're going to have to look at what this could look like long term, and I think it's going to take a lot of support."

Other educators agree. University of Phoenix recently surveyed more than 1,000 K-12 teachers across the country and found 90 percent have, "deep concerns about the impact virtual teaching may have on students' development," and "do not feel properly prepared to teach virtually."

The newly-launched Alliance for Virtual Learning is one group looking to change that.

"How to more effectively use Google Classroom, things that we think teachers across the country could very quickly benefit from," said Dr. John Woods, provost and chief academic officer for University of Phoenix.

University of Phoenix and education tech company Blackboard are teaming up to offer long-term support at no cost.

Webinars in May and June will lead up to the inaugural "Virtual Teaching Academy." It is a six-day workshop focused on topics that include student and parent engagement, creating compelling content, assessing students learning, equity and disparity, and providing social-emotional support virtually.

"I think you'll see people get prepared and remain prepared for a greater utilization of these tools," said Dr. Woods.

Click here to register for the free series of online events.

You can also visit these links for more virtual instruction resources:

Learning Keeps Going

Office of the Maricopa County School Superintendent

AZ Department of Education