The Edushift Student Online Readiness Tool

Online learning means taking courses over the internet in a way that offers more freedom for students to work within their own schedules and connect schoolwork with things that are more personally interesting to them.  

 

Completing this Tool can help you to understand if online learning is a good fit for you. 

The chronological updates below, originally posted while the SORT was being developed, give more information about "the why and how" of the Tool     

Introduction: April 23, 2020

The term “distance learning” is often misinterpreted and incorrectly categorized as “online learning”. In actuality, online learning is one type of learning setting that, to be successful, needs to address the affective, cognitive and behavioural engagement gap between what students already possess and are able to gain from their existing environments and communities.   

 

As a starting point to this process, classroom, school and district level systems need feedback to inform and benchmark student perspectives about the conditions they feel are necessary to engage their (online) learning.

 

In response, Edushift is developing a research informed Student Online Readiness Self-Assessment Tool that can be used to promote the process of online learning as an individualized and engaging setting for students to use.

 

Development of the Student Online Readiness Tool is in progress and will be available, in advance of the 2020-21 school year, to assist the longitudinal online learning process work of educational systems everywhere.

 

Stay tuned - ongoing updates will be provided on this site as we proceed. 

Update 1: April 28, 2020

With this update, more information is provided about the purpose of the Student Online Readiness Self-Assessment Tool.

Purpose:

 

The Student Online Readiness Self-Assessment Tool enables the sharing of information and perspectives to address the gap between a student’s current and necessary skills, abilities, characteristics and disposition to use online learning successfully. 

 

Why?

 

Using distance learning in response to the coronavirus pandemic has revealed that our current educational systems are ill-equipped to meet the individualized needs of students in an online environment. Recognizing the new reality of “at home” schooling, and likelihood that school sites may again need to be closed as early as fall/winter 2020, education systems can begin now to prepare.   

 

How?

 

The Student Online Readiness Self-Assessment Tool allows students, alone and/or with teachers, support staff, coaches or other members of the student’s personal and school community, to self-assess their readiness for online learning. The tool is a series of questions organized by three key pillars of learning overall and eight key competencies specific to student success in online learning. 

Update 2: May 5, 2020

With this update, more information is provided about the guiding framework for the Student Online Readiness Self-Assessment Tool

The Three Key Pillars and Eight Competencies:

The wide-scale and rapid execution of distance learning (often misinterpreted as online learning) as a result of the pandemic has illustrated, with some urgency, the need for systematic processes that help students develop learning skills and work habits.

 

This is not a new concept. For example, as far back as 2010, the Ontario Ministry of Education outlined in Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting in Ontario Schools, that the “development of learning skills and work habits is an integral part of a student’s learning.” Furthermore, “the evaluation of learning skills and work habits, apart from any that may be included as part of a curriculum expectation in a subject or course, should not be considered in the determination of a student’s grades.” (pg. 10)

 

In a Process and Strategy Framework from that same document, student self-assessment is identified as a necessary component - noting the systematic challenges associated with this new interpretation of student participation in the learning process. “The emphasis on student self-assessment represents a fundamental shift in the teacher-student relationship, placing the primary responsibility for learning with the student.” (pg. 41)

 

The endorsement of student agency in the process of effective learning is, of course, not limited to Ontario - with jurisdictions everywhere now trying to connect an ever increasing need for student self awareness with a wide variety of potential individualized online settings. As such, development of the Edushift Student Online Readiness Self-Assessment Tool is less about identifying or confirming the relevancy of new approaches as it is about assisting the application of already proven practices that employ student self-assessment in support of effective learning.

 

From the research informed evidence (*see below), Edushift is organizing the skills, abilities, characteristics and disposition necessary for effective learning in an online setting into three key pillars and eight competencies as follows:

Future updates will use this framework to develop the actual tool in a student-friendly format. More information will also be provided to show how education communities can systematically use the student self-assessment tool to initiate and maintain individualized support for students using online learning settings. 

*WORKS CONSULTED (SELECT) 

Barbour, M. K., & LaBonte, R. (2019). Sense of Irony or Perfect Timing: Examining the Research Supporting Proposed e-Learning Changes in Ontario. International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education, 34(2). 

Bradley, R. (n.d.). Measuring self-efficacy and self-regulation in online courses. College Student Journal, 51(4), winter 2017, 518-530. 

Core SEL Competencies. (2017). Retrieved May 06, 2020, from https://casel.org/core-competencies/ 

Farid, A. (2014). Student Online Readiness Assessment Tools: A Systematic Review Approach. The Electronic Journal of E-Learning, 12(4), 375-382. 

Growing success: Assessment, evaluation and reporting in Ontario Schools (1st ed.). (2010). Toronto, ON: Ontario Ministry of Education. 

Kay, R., & Li, J. (2019). Assessing the quality of online learning for secondary school students: The Online Learning Evaluation Scale. In Proceedings of the ICERI2019 Conference (pp. 2363-2366). Valencia, Spain: IATED. Retrieved from https://library.iated.org/publications/ICERI2019. 

Khiat, H. (2015). Measuring Self-Directed Learning: A Diagnostic Tool for Adult Learners. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 12(2). 

Liu, J. C. (2019). Evaluating Online Learning Orientation Design With a Readiness Scale. Online Learning, 23(4), 42-61. doi:10.24059/olj.v23i4.2078 

Roddy, C., Amiet, D. L., Chung, J., Holt, C., Shaw, L., Mckenzie, S., . . . Mundy, M. E. (2017). Applying Best Practice Online Learning, Teaching, and Support to Intensive Online Environments: An Integrative Review. Frontiers in Education, 2. doi:10.3389/feduc.2017.00059 

Van Laer, S., & Elen, J. (2017). In search of attributes that support self-regulation in blended learning environments. Education and Information Technologies, 22, 1395-1454. 

Stay tuned for the next update on May 11, 2020

Update 3: May 11, 2020

With this update, more information is provided about how the Student Online Readiness Self-Assessment Tool can be used

A Personalized System Tool Requires a Personalized System Approach

The last update clarified that learning skills and work habits are research proven components of learning that are necessary for students to succeed.  Furthermore, the pandemic has exposed a significant gap in the skills, abilities, and work habits of students. Without the behavioural norms and expectations of physical classrooms, many students and their parents are unwilling or unable to participate in distance learning.

 

Not to be confused with online learning, distance learning is an extension of traditional age-based program offerings through minimum on-line time expectations and assessment practices that focus on content acquisition. In comparison, online learning builds upon the gradual release of responsibility for learning that requires student self-discovery and personal growth.

 

Regardless of the type (distance or online) of learning setting offered, the pandemic evidenced gap in student learning skills and work habits requires a response based upon information that can guide improvements to classroom, school and district system support structures. The Student Online Readiness Self-Assessment Tool is being developed for that purpose. However, there is an important distinction that needs to first be addressed.   

 

Traditional education systems seeking to improve student participation in distance learning will be tempted to use the tool as a checklist - to monitor and then teach learning skills and works habits to groups of students as a linear progression. While somewhat useful in and of itself, this approach falls short of the potential available for school systems to progressively empower student agency.  

 

Personalization means meeting each student at their own level and challenging them with high expectations through a wide range of experiences in school, online and in the community. Personalized education systems are relationship focused, with people working collaboratively to create an appropriate learning environment for every student based upon their needs and interests in real time data. As such, instead of a rubric or checklist, the readiness of students for online learning is being promoted by Edushift through continuous self-assessment as one part of a larger longitudinal process.

 

Another way to think about this is to consider how student self assessment of their social-emotional, metacognitive and skills/abilities can also assist their ability to regularly achieve psychological flow. It is a human condition, when we are “in the zone”, to experience that timeless state of mind when we are fully engaged in activities that are personally meaningful to us as individuals. But this can’t be taught in the same way that we teach a subject. Students need to develop motivation on their own terms, guided by adults through system structures that support this relational process.

The Connection Between Student Self-Assessment and Personalized Learning Systems

Improving the skills, abilities, characteristics and disposition of students for online learning as a longitudinal process requires an interchangeable flow of real time information between students and adults. At the heart of this relational and strengths based focus is the continual self-assessment of students themselves. Critical to the effectiveness of the tool is its application, not as a checklist, but as a vehicle for reflection, conversation and personal growth.

 

The Student Online Readiness Self-Assessment Tool provides the means to initiate and maintain this focus with the participation of adults outside of the formal structure of education including parents, community agencies, support services and tech. Of course this information is also necessary to inform and guide the relational and strengths based support of adults within classroom, school and district level systems structures. However, its application needs to be differentiated to account for the purpose of the system in play.

 

For example, using individual student perspectives to inform growth differs from using aggregated perspectives to inform and guide the development of positive school culture. At the district system, level, information can be differentiated to support student cohorts that share commonality on a variety of fronts not isolated to specific classrooms.The district level also holds the potential to use information for effective resource allocations that address the on time needs of students and personalized professional development of staff.   

Education systems that use the tool will also find value in undertaking ongoing evaluations to assess their ability to engage student involvement in school. It is the process itself that builds momentum and the engagement of students and staff.

 

In all, key to the application of the Student Online Readiness Self-Assessment Tool is its ability to empower student agency through differentiated system structures that can help to balance well-being and self growth with learning. 

Stay tuned for the next update on May 18, 2020

Adapted by Adam Fletcher from Hart, R. (1994). Children's Participation: From Tokenism to Citizenship. New York: UNICEF.

Update 4: May 18, 2020

With this update, the Student Online Readiness Self-Assessment Tool is presented in

relation to the coronavirus pandemic 

Time and Context Matter

To date, Edushift has been providing updates about the development of the Student Online Readiness Self-Assessment Tool and its potential to assist the transformation process of education systems. But no two education systems are the same. Each is unique and, as a result, will need to use the Student Online Readiness Self-Reflection Tool in a manner that can best account for local conditions, overall objectives and available time and resources.

 

The pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on education systems. It has demonstrated the challenge of operating distance learning when many students and parents are in need of online learning driven by student agency and personalization. Furthermore, the rapid speed in which the pandemic arrived left school districts with insufficient time to prepare; even if the issues to be addressed could have been fully anticipated.

 

Education systems everywhere are now using information to understand and adjust to operational gaps in distance learning that have been exposed by student (and parent) disengagement. At the heart of this unwillingness or inability to comply with distance learning are gaps in the skills, abilities and disposition of students to succeed outside of traditional classroom environments. However, we know that the personal growth of students and system transformation to address these gaps, will take time. We also know that there is a distinct likelihood that a Wave 2 of the virus will require another system shutdown next fall/winter.

 

Is it possible, therefore, to use information in a way that can address overlapping needs and timelines? The answer is yes, and developing a process plan in advance can be extremely beneficial. The following concept offers one example that education systems can use to address both the short term (Wave 2) challenges of distance learning and longer term transformation to personalized online learning.

In this example, the middle red bar conceptualizes a timeline that differentiates the remainder of the 2019-20 school year from the beginning of the next 2020-21 school year and likelihood of a Wave 2 shutdown that could take place around December 2020 and continue for an unforeseeable time into 2021. 

 

The top green bar represents the efforts that most education systems are likely undertaking now to collect information that clarifies which students have been successful, and which haven’t, in complying with the pandemic-caused move to distance learning. For most education systems, the information collected will match the criteria expected for students to succeed with distance learning such as time on-line, assignment completion, overall participation and assessments from teachers.

 

The top blue bar represents the actions that education systems will proceed with to try and address the needs of many students that will continue to struggle with distance learning during the Wave 2 shutdown. However, it is the skills, abilities, work habits and disposition necessary for learning overall that are especially evident as the gap that needs to be addressed with many students participating in distance learning.   

 

It is reasonable to suggest that, if education systems can identify which students lack the necessary skills, abilities, work habits and disposition to succeed with distance learning, they should also focus on helping these students develop their skills, abilities, work habits and disposition before asking them to once again comply with distance learning in a Wave 2 shutdown. An introduction and ongoing use of the Online Student Readiness Self-Assessment Tool with students, as represented by the yellow bar, can provide this opportunity to any education system.

 

Beginning as soon as possible with this relational work could prepare many students for greater success with Wave 2 distance learning. Other students will require more time. But in the context of pandemic imposed timelines, using this moment to engage a system response can pay longer term dividends. This is an opportunity to re-imagine and test how classroom, school and district level systems can apply student agency in a practical and meaningful way. The Tool is a mechanism that can be used to initiate and continuously engage this process that puts student wellness and well-being at the front end of education service structures.

 

Some education systems may also choose to take a longer view by initiating the Tool as a parallel process with specific student cohorts. Grade 6 or 7 student cohorts, for example, could be assisted and tracked with a goal to improving the skills, abilities, work habits and disposition of these students in advance of secondary school when the use of e-learning platforms are generally more prevalent.  A cohort approach has the added advantage of providing rich information and opportunities to explore and practice classroom, school, and district system applications of personalized service.

 

In all, with this one example, we can see how time and context relate to the use of information generally and the Student Online Readiness Self-Assessment Tool specifically. While the pandemic has caused much upheaval, there is an opportunity to use what we have learned, and continue to learn, to the collective advantage of students through informed education system transformation.  Other applications of the Tool that account for the unique variety and nature of different education systems are also possible. Thinking and planning in advance for time and context matters.

Update 5: June 8, 2020

 

With this update, a connection is made with information flow so that you can understand your place in the growth process.

Our Place in the Process Matters 

 

The previous update offered one example of an application for the Student Online Readiness Tool in connection with a time sequence that accounts for Wave 2 of the pandemic.  It was also suggested that every education system is unique and will need to use the Tool in a manner that can best account for local conditions, overall objectives and available time and resources. In other words, time and context matter.  However, each of us also has unique needs and responsibilities as individuals. Therefore, it is equally important to understand how each person fits in connection with a variety of potential applications of the Tool. Our place in the process also matters.

 

Our world is driven by information that we provide and receive on a regular basis. Our lives are driven by information flow. Good systems respect and value how and why people participate with information flow by developing a clear understanding and alignment of that information with system objectives. This has rarely been more evident for education systems than it is right now, with the pandemic exposed need for improved skills, abilities and disposition of students to succeed outside of traditional classroom environments.

 

The good news is that understanding our place in the process can help build focused momentum, across multiple participants, in an effective manner that accounts for student agency and the systematic move to personalized service. But there are several distinctions about the Tool, and the sources of information it can provide, that need to be understood first so that everyone can participate with clarity and confidence.

Information Flow: Student Online Readiness Self-Assessment Tool

The first distinction to be understood involves the fact that the Tool is not a test or an answer to things.  Instead, it will act as a voluntary vehicle for self assessment that can initiate and maintain a process of personal growth. At a minimum, the Tool will allow students to think and provide information to themselves and ask: 

 

  • why do I feel this way?

  • why do I believe this about myself? 

  • is this an accurate indication of my actual skills, abilities and disposition for online learning?

The second distinction to be made is that, as a vehicle for personal growth, the Self-Assessment Tool is a starting point for students to share, discuss and receive help from others in their personal community. And the personal community of students extends far beyond the immediate system structures of the classroom, school or district level. Self-assessment, guided by the Tool, invites participation from friends, parents, coaches and any other adults within the personal community of students.  

 

The third and final distinction to be made is that the use of information shared by students through the Self-Assessment Tool needs to be viewed in connection with the actual educational system at play. For example, the one-on-one interface with others in the students’ personal community that the Tool offers aligns most directly with classroom systems. In comparison, information available through the Tool to inform school systems is best viewed as aggregated data through the review of trends, commonalities and discrepancies that can address school culture. The district level is a different view again, with opportunities available to use both individual and aggregated data sets to assist resource allocations, professional development, and connections between students and staff.    

 

Used in conjunction with information already being collected and reviewed (refer to previous update) in response to distance learning, the Tool can help the development of a Wave 2 plan and longer term growth in the personalized service structures of any education system. When Edushift releases the Tool as a means for this information flow, it will become increasingly evident to participating education systems that student perspectives can maximize the progressive system impact of this moment in time.  Working with time and context to understand information flow and our place in the process can help. 

Questions or Comments? Feel free to join the conversation.

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