Some schools explore synchronous learning for fall semester

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Thursday, August 6, 2020
Some schools looking at synchronous learning this fall
Here's the difference between virtual and synchronous learning.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As students get ready to head back to school in the online world, many parents are asking, what will it look like?

Last spring with the sudden closure of classrooms, everyone got a taste of at-home learning. It was frustrating for parents like Susan Sample.

"The teachers did what they knew, which was to take their class plan and put it online. And that's not really an integrated learning plan. Just the logistics would cause a lesson to take three times more than it would, you know, in a classroom," Sample said.

But here we are five months later. Some districts have a game plan that they're calling synchronous learning.

"It's live face-to-face instruction between the teacher and the student in a virtual environment," Ft. Bend ISD deputy superintendent Diana Sayavedra explained.

CCISD chief technology officer Robert Bayard added, "That includes when teachers are in the classroom, having an opportunity to connect with students using a web cam."

Both Fort Bend ISD and Clear Creek ISD are two of the districts that will be using the synchronous system.

"We'll take attendance via It's Learning, which is our learning management system. And through that, students will be able to engage in real time with their teachers using Microsoft Teams," Bayard said.

SEE ALSO: School district plans across the Houston area.

There's a similar workflow in Fort Bend ISD which will allow for teachers to see their students during class time. They'll be able to communicate, ask questions and engage in lesson plans.

Technology and home internet connection are not 100% reliable. What happens if there's an outage and a student is disconnected? Fort Bend ISD says it will be up to the teacher to follow up with that student during asynchronous time after class.

Now if you're a parent who cannot work from home and need additional supervision for your child, Fort Bend ISD is addressing that concern on some of its campuses.

"The learning center concept is that we will offer adult supervision and a workspace for students to work through the online platform and do their learning," Sayavedra said.

Another change from last spring is that the classes will not be pass/fail.

"A,B,C, F. An F is a 69 or below. It's important that we went back to our standards and for students to know that even if they're online learning, it's not going to be just a gimme," Bayard said.

As for Sample, who's working from home these days, she's hoping for a better workflow for her and her children.

"Make sure they're on task and make sure there's not a problem with the system. Log them in, in case there's a Zoom meeting with the teacher, things like that will cut into your productivity," Sample said.