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E-Learning Lessons from H1N1

This commentary in Education Week examines what Henrico County, Va. public schools superintendent Patrick Russo calls the H1N1 virus' 'teachable moment'--using technology to deliver education. Although Henrico has had a 1-to-1 laptop program in place for almost a decade, Russo asserts that beefing up continuity of learning plans and putting infrastructure in place to deliver education in case of school closures will help spur other districts to provide the technology for 24/7 learning. The emphasis here should not be on the technology, Russo says, but on how the technology is being used to meet the needs of students. Here's an excerpt from the commentary:

What's important is how technology is leveraged both to meet the lifestyle of today's students and to provide a learning environment that matches their expectations, experiences, and needs. Sitting passively in a classroom while being lectured to is no longer good enough given today's rapid cultural change. Technology now allows kids to interact socially on a 24/7 basis, and our way of educating them must incorporate that reality.

I've been working on a story about the school library's shifting role in K-12 schools, and one of the differences each person I've spoken with has pointed out is that students expect 24/7 access, which can only be achieved by embracing technology and teaching students how to use virtual spaces. According to Russo, this is a shift that's not only happening in libraries but in classrooms as well.

If you'd like to read more about schools turning to online learning in light of swine flu concerns, check out these stories: Swine-Flu Plans Put E-Learning in the Spotlight and As Swine Flu Closes Schools, Tech. Could Keep Doors to Learning Open.

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