Up till now, much of the conversation about remote learning has centered on logistics: how to log in, where to find things, who needs devices and connectivity. These are important questions. But they comprise--at most--forty-nine percent of the issue.

The other fifty-one percent has to do with the quality of learning students experience once they log in.

How do parents determine the quality of their child’s online education?

Here are five questions you can use to make your own judgement call:

  1. Is my child clear on what is being expected by their teachers each day?
  2. Does my child have a communicative relationship with their teachers, and are the teachers responsive when contacted?
  3. When my child engages in work for school, does it seem like a “throw away” assignment or did the teacher appear to thoughtfully frame an activity that challenges my child?
  4. What is the quality of feedback that my child receives from the teacher? Does the feedback identify what my child did well and what my child needs to do to grow further?
  5. Is the school creating social opportunities for students to connect online, like they would at school?

Parents can use these questions to frame their own observations of their child’s learning. They can also ask their child directly.

My advice, though, is to not just assess what’s going on. Communicate your experience to the school’s principal and teachers. I assure you they are still refining their process, and they know they are working in exceptionally challenging circumstances. None of this is going the way they ideally would like. Acknowledge their effort, including what is working. Then ask if a few concrete changes are possible, ones that you suspect would be of benefit not only to your own child but to all.

Have you or your child had exceptionally fantastic or disappointing experiences learning online this year? I’d be interested in learning more either via the COMMENTS or on social media.