What all of these online applications have in common is video conferencing that enables faculty and staff to communicate via their smart devices with students and each other. Coupled with a “virtual classroom” offered by the platform, Google Classroom, FA students can communicate with teachers or peers through chat or email, review upcoming assignments, and post completed assignments directly to their classroom pages.
"I think what I'm most impressed with is the fact that our school was able to launch our remote learning plan early," says Head of School Erin Mayo. "We've been employing online instruction for three weeks, beginning the end of March, ahead of many peer schools.”
All of these technologies are crucial for many schools like Fryeburg Academy to keep the continuity of learning for their students. However, remote learning does not come without some shortcomings. Two most recent challenges addressed by the Academy were the inaccessibility of wifi for some families and the difficulty of creating an online course schedule that could best accommodate international students in various time zones.
“By shifting online courses on Wednesdays from the afternoon to morning slots, we were able to accommodate our international students," says Joseph Minnich, assistant director of studies. "This simple change allowed more of our students in different time zones to attend online classes in the morning and helped them to stay more connected with their peers and their teachers. Maintaining this connection and engagement is important for our students to feel supported."
Additionally, Spectrum and other internet providers have stepped up to offer free wifi for families, while the school has provided over 200 Google Chromebooks for students in need.
In the coming weeks, the Academy, like so many other schools across the country and around the world, will need to continually adapt and innovate as we navigate these powerful learning tools and learn new methods of engaging our students. Our hats are off to our FA faculty who continually rise to meet these new challenges —seemingly overnight. We also acknowledge our IT staff, Bruce Hall and James Grondin, and FA’s technology integration coordinator, Dave Sartory, who have all paved the way to train, support, and roll out FA’s remote instruction plan with remarkable results.