I’ve been quiet for the last couple of weeks, primarily because I was neck deep in the final stages of getting the second addition of my text published. It is currently available in ebook format, with print coming soon to Amazon:
Here is an excerpt from the Preface, which should give you a good sense of my intentions in this revision…
Not much has changed since the first edition of this text. And at the same time everything has changed. For the majority, you’ve found yourselves in new and unfamiliar territory – I’m speaking of course about the coronavirus pandemic and the impact it has had on our traditional educational systems. The very foundation of our collective understanding of school has been completely dismantled. For a very few others, the transition has not been so disruptive. You may be early adopters or fellow online teachers that have been doing education at a distance for years. What is different for all of us is the fear and panic that our way of life may be changed forever. And now, more than ever, it is up to all of us to step up and to support each other. For those of you who are new to distance learning, having been heaved into a chaotic mix of homeschool and remote teaching, I hope what I have to share can provide a sense of calm and a feeling of security, that yes, you can do this!
Changes to this 2nd edition of my text were intentionally kept to a minimum so that I could get it published as quickly as possible. I’ve updated the tools of course, and some of the statistical data. The National Standards for Quality Online Learning were revamped in 2019 and have moved out of the trusting hands of iNACOL (now the Aurora Institute) and into the warm embrace of a partnership between Quality Matters and the Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance. The Aurora Institute (formerly iNACOL) while always an advocacy organization, has shifted focus to a policy and advocacy organization for transformation of our education systems, calling specifically for a shift to personalized learning and student-centered approaches to next-generation learning. This change ushered in a new player on the block, the Digital Learning Collaborative (DLC), which is entirely focused on digital learning.
We’ve also seen blended learning embraced more fully in mainstream education. To support this shift, I’ve included a special, bonus chapter on blended learning in this edition of the text. As you can imagine, it caused a great deal of internal struggle for me to decide whether to stick with a text focused only on online teaching vs. shifting focus to include both online and blended. I decided to stick with the original concept because it is my belief that the kind of mindshift needed to transform our teaching practice can more easily be facilitated by a complete shift in delivery method. It has been my experience, teaching many teachers over the years, that taking half-steps just doesn’t provide the ah ha! moment needed to fully embrace the true intention of blended learning.
I’m a keeper of things and I especially enjoy looking back at where we were and comparing it to where we’ve come, so I’ve chosen not to change my original introduction. Although some tools have changed and we’ve seen a significant increase in blended learning opportunities, the truth is that not much has changed in the area of fully online teaching. The numbers of students in online courses and programs have remained relatively stable, there is still insufficient preparation of teachers to teach online, and mainstream education policy, other than increased legislation for more flexible course choice options, has changed little.
The reopening of schools in the fall is still under considerable discussion, but it seems apparent that life as we know it will definitely not be the same anytime soon. From what I’m seeing, consensus seems to be building around the importance of remaining flexible and including some combination of online and face-to-face instruction — which is one of the reasons I’ve included the bonus chapter on Blended Learning with the second edition of my text. Enjoy!