As an A-type student, I loved the days I saw the TV cart in the classroom. You know, the bulky old TV monitor strapped onto the two-tiered cart with the VCR player strapped to the second level.
It was a beautiful sight.
It meant I would not have homework (usually) and I would likely be able to relax and enjoy the next segment of my day.
I also gathered that the teacher enjoyed the TV cart because they didn’t have to formulate a lesson plan or teach.
Sometimes the TV cart was planned, and other times teachers just needed a break and defaulted to it as an easy filler when they were having a rough day.
Very rarely did the teacher interact during the movie/video, but rather sat in their office catching up on work or Zzzs while the students were entertained (or bored).
Here’s a reality - we are under a lot of pressure in education spheres to pivot with very little to no prep time. What is educational leadership to do?
“This is a pivotal moment in education. We can really accelerate learning or push it back decades,” shares Aaron L. Smith, PhD, founder and CEO at Workplace Readiness Solutions.
I’ll go out on a very obvious limb and say the uncertainty of today is not to be responded to by becoming best friends with the proverbial TV cart.
This is not the time for easy filler. Students have been protesting what I will call filler distance education experiences since spring 2020 when COVID-19 forced education online. And they have a valid point.
Now is when we need to ask the difficult questions about what engagement means from a distance. How can students learn as well as (or better) than coming in person to a physical classroom?
The US Department of Education recognizes the need for regulations to adjust to allow for and encourage innovation in higher education by proposing multiple changes to existing distance education regulations that are to be put into effect July 1, 2021, but institutions can choose to implement any or all changes now (https://www2.ed.gov/policy/highered/reg/hearulemaking/2018/distanceandinnovationfactsheet.pdf).
Let’s not push education back to the VCR days by bringing out the TV cart. Let’s launch it forward with innovation fueled by student feedback and get our hands messy by diving into existing technology and thinking outside the box.
I’m with Dr. Smith when he states, “this is scary, but those who are visionary will make the right steps forward.”