Distance Learning

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Update: 5 pm, March 19

Upon the Governor's approval, the NEW guidance will be published here.

Update: March 17

The situation with the COVID-19 virus and its impact on North Dakota K-12 education continues to evolve on a nearly hourly basis. The  NDDPI would like to share the following guidance regarding distance learning.

Most districts are not prepared to implement a distance learning model, such as online learning, on short notice. Some districts and schools may be in a position to continue teaching using distance learning methods through the North Dakota Center for Distance Education (NDCDE); however, equity is a critical consideration. It is important to note that if educational services are being delivered to students in any form, in order for the district to remain open, those services must be provided to all students, including students who don’t have access to technology at home and students receiving special education services.

For the purposes of this memo, virtual, online and distance learning all mean school that is offered through a digital platform rather than on-campus. As is always the case, local school leaders have decision-making powers regarding curriculum and instruction. However, consider these important factors as you explore virtual learning and online platforms.

  1. Ensuring equitable services
  2. Do all students have access to a device?
  3. Do all students have access to reliable, high-speed internet?
  4. Do all classes/courses have the ability to provide instruction?
  5. Have teachers considered students’ Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs)?
  6. Providing High-Quality, Effective, Standards-Based Education
    • To what degree is the virtual learning experience of high quality?
      • Is the learning experience exposure to content, in which students will be able to view content that broadly relates to content areas, such as literacy and numeracy. Focused skill development is not expected. Depending on grade level, materials used might include books, textbooks, workbooks, worksheets, email, television (e.g., DVD, cable, streaming), and Internet content (e.g., websites, games).
      • Is the learning experience supplemental content, in which students will be able to view and participate in activities that are directly related to grade-level skills, but there is no capacity for assessment or evaluation of work. Limited progress is expected. In addition to the materials listed above, more specific subject-matter could be provided through content download (e.g., using laptops and smart phones) and communication by phone (e.g., conference calls and one-on-one calls).
      • Is the learning experience a partial continuation of their regular school experience, in which students will be able to access grade-level and subject-matter content. If instructional support (including assessment and evaluation of work) is provided through another medium, continued learning is possible. Measurable student progress is possible. Materials and instructional methods used might include all those listed above as well as synchronous online learning (e.g., chat, streaming, video, instant messaging, and/or web conferences).
      • Is the learning experience a full continuation of their regular school experience, in which students will be able to access grade-level and subject-matter content. Instructional support is provided, including assessment and evaluation of work. Measurable student progress is expected. Materials and instructional methods used might include all those listed above, as well as asynchronous online learning with capability for remote communication and assessment (e.g., email, learning management systems that deliver, track, and manage classes or projects.
      • Does the content align to North Dakota Content Standards?
      • Does the technology platform allow access to an educator?
      • Do you have a mechanism in place for assessing students and assigning “grades”?

Remember, there is a difference between offering students the option of accessing free digital learning experiences to students and requiring/mandating all students attend a virtual “school.” 

In addition, if a school provides virtual learning opportunities during this time, schools must also continue to provide school counseling services, even if this is done electronically. Please see the guidance from the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) relating to virtual school counseling during an emergency shutdown. School counselors still must follow all ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors and see their position statement on virtual school counseling. School counselors should also work collaboratively with all stakeholders to ensure equity, access and success of all students whether virtual school counseling is offered synchronously or asynchronously.  

School districts can contact EduTech for assistance with training and consulting on Office 365 and other distance learning platforms at no cost, if this is an option you would like to entertain.

If you have any questions, please contact Amanda Peterson, Assistant Director of Academic Support at (701) 328-3545 or Joe Kolosky, Director of School Approval and Opportunity at (701) 328-2755.

Contact/Correspondence