The pandemic created a global demand for K-12 districts to offer safe ways to teach and learn. Savvy K-12 districts turned to expert providers to create strong virtual learning programs. Still, even with a few months under their belts, districts are struggling to keep up the momentum. Here are five tips publishers can use to help districts keep virtual learning as a long term strategy.
K-12 districts signed on for a partnership. Administrators turned to publishers to save them in the COVID crunch. Schools turned to virtual learning to free up classrooms. Staff know the benefits of online teaching. Districts have created safe learning environments for staff and students. Administrators spent the summer fighting for the technology at-risk students need. Today, students are taking virtual courses. The best thing a provider can do is show up when problems arise. Publishers need to answer the help desk calls. Success coaches need to follow-up with struggling students. Virtual teachers need to reach out to parents, staff and students. Likewise, providers need to focus on building long-term relationships with districts.
Likewise, publishers can provide districts with materials that address their community’s fears. Administrators spent the summer promoting the benefits of remote learning. Yet, parents fear virtual courses. Guardians fear the amount of screen time students are getting. Parents may not understand why a virtual learning day is not as long as a traditional school day. Grandparents may not understand why a child has learning breaks between subjects. Parents may not see how remote learning works for younger students. Students may ask why they are not learning the exact same topics their friends are learning in class. Publishers need to partner with the district to address these fears. Besides that, providers need to explain it in a way that is easy to understand.
Watch the Jargon
Likewise, publishers need to watch their language. Administrators are familiar with ed jargon. Parents, students, and guardians are not. Publishers must translate the jargon into benefits students desire in their classes. Besides that, guardians may have a dated view of a school day. Yet, K-12 districts may not know how to educate their community on how to make the most of virtual learning. A savvy publisher will explain the benefits of virtual learning in an easy to understand way. Likewise, providers will go slow when they use the system to show examples.
Students do better with tech than their guardians. Providers turn to their learning management system (LMS) to demo courses. Reps need to make sure that they do not go too fast through the examples. Publishers need to know their audience when they are demonstrating the system. Providers need to show users where to find how-to guides. Besides that, the district LMS and provider LMS need to work together. Still, guardians may not know how to navigate their district LMS. Publishers need to prep staff to answer integration questions. Likewise, providers need to connect often with both administrators and their student body.
Emphasize the Benefits of Partnership
Still, publishers should view their partnership with the district as long term. Districts value their reputation within their communities. Publishers should value the districts reputation within the community. Never is this pain felt more than at program launch. During those critical first months providers need to be available to answer questions. Publishers should be able to provide quick turnaround times on any questions.
In sum, providers should view their partnerships with K-12 districts as a long term strategic goal. Publishers should nurture this relationship as they launch virtual programs. K-12 districts need support by having providers who answer their help desk. K-12 districts need help educating their community on how to use the systems.