assumptions we made about how much time students would take to
complete certain tasks (based on our experiences in actual classrooms).
However, our estimations were way off base. This made us quickly realize
how important it is to know your audience.
This may seem like common sense to anyone who has taught a day in
their lives but with virtual classroom, there is the possibility that lesson
designers and deliverers are physically and figuratively in different places
from the students they want to serve. It is very important for them to
take the time to understand their audience before designing lessons. If
students can connect to the content being delivered and they find it
relevant to their lives, they will learn it better.
Our experience with MCGM’s Virtual Classroom platform to deliver an
English Reading Program to ELLs has been quite positive. This VC
technology has the ability to bring one expert teacher into dozens of
classrooms simultaneously, thus filling a content and language gap that
currently exists among government school teachers. We understand that
this is a short term solution, but through a public-private partnership
framework we have the opportunity to model what good lessons look
like, provide PD to MCGM teachers to become better facilitators, build
their own reading skills as they learn phonics with students and create an
ecosystem where all stakeholders in this partnership are learning and
growing. We believe that we have taken a step in the right direction.
Given that we delivered only about 25 hours of lessons in year one, our
impact on students’ reading skills, while not greatly significant, is still
worthwhile and lays the foundation for year two. Keeping in mind the
constraints of time and logistics, a three year intervention, is a minimum
requirement and something we highly recommend for those looking to
partner with any state or local government schools.
Lastly, from a pedagogical point of view, the most effective practices of
teaching and learning stay the same whether we are in an offline
classroom or a virtual one: plan well, give clear instructions, be