The Prince William County Schools View
My children graduated from Prince William County Schools (PWCS) a couple of decades ago, and they live with their children out of state. Therefore, I am just a taxpayer, not a parent trying to use PWCS’ Virtual Schoolhouse. Nevertheless, I am curious to know what I am paying taxes to support. Unfortunately, I don’t have any practical experience with Virtual Schoolhouse.
What is a Virtual Schoolhouse? From the viewpoint of a taxpayer, I guess is that is the name that PWCS is using to refer to the resources listed here => Online Resources Available from Home.
Whatever a Virtual Schoolhouse may be, PWCS doesn’t seem satisfied with it.
But, what does our virtual schoolhouse look like? Just like the traditional classroom learning experience, learning at-home requires a partnership between families and educators. We understand that some of the challenges our families may be experiencing include:
- limited access to computers and high-speed internet;
- sustaining student motivation to engage in their learning;
- encouraging learning for extended periods of time;
- feeling overwhelmed by well-intentioned, voluminous emails;
- trying to find assignments in multiple locations;
- finding support when students need extra help.
(from here (pwcs.edu))
Presumably, that first bullet indicates what PWCS regards as its most immediate problem. A substantial number of students do not have access to the technology PWCS wants to use.
So what is the big picture, at least from the standpoint of PWCS? Home Learning seems to be the place to start an investigation. That webpage points to most of the others.
Note: PWCS apparently wants to use the expression “home learning” to distinguish what they are doing from “homeschooling”.
The first link on the Home Learning web page is to the Continuity of Learning Timeline. Unfortunately, PWCS was unable to immediately standup a home learning system. So, they are setting up their home learning system in phases, and we are now in phase 4, with a couple more phases to go.
For what it is worth, PWCS had written a plan, 2019-23 Future Ready Technology Improvement Plan. However, home learning was not one of the goals of this plan.
PWCS seems to be upfront about their difficulties. Coronavirus-related changes in operations provides all the memos they have sent out. That includes an April 3rd update that phase 4 would begin on April 14th.
The first note appeared on Coronavirus-related changes in operations on January 30th. From there on it is like reading a story backwards. If we want to know how PWCS got to the point it is at, that webpage is worth studying.
Why would a grumpy old man write about this topic? We live about 80 years, but most of us start having children in our 20’s. That means grumpy old men and charming, gray-haired ladies, not parents with children in school, have the most complete memories of what has been done in the past. If we value extensive life experience, then elders also have the best knowledge of what children most need to gain from an education. Therefore, even if we don’t have children in the school system, we still have an obligation to make certain PWCS makes proper use of our money.
What Is To Come?
- The View From Our Local Newspapers: The topic in this post will be how our local papers are covering PWCS’ adventure in home learning.
- Observations: This post will focus on the differences between “home learning” and “at school learning”.
We request your comments.
Since we are all somewhat isolated at home, we are overly dependent on Google and other search engines. Therefore, if you find this post and you have your own observations or know of some links that are relevant, please post a comment. Note that your first comment on this blog will be moderated.
Currently living “lockdown” with our daughter-n-law and our two young grandkids— who we watch so she can “teach” from home while our son remains mostly at their house an hour away, also working from home— I observe that things seem half-ass at best.
Not on her part mind you but rather in general from all of this mess.
Naturally schools, both private and public, had to scramble when each state opted to close the schools, many back in late March. Schools and teachers had to work quickly to put together a virtual learning experience—with some schools having better resources than others.
Teachers are now home with their own families- many with your children of their own— balancing working, caring for the family while balancing at home learning/ teaching — all of which is far from ideal.
Some parents are better than others at helping their kids with lessons—personally I don’t think this is the best for our students but given the circumstances, the best the country could manage — I only hope we will reopen all schools come ‘fall’( more like August)
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