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Q & A: Melissa Lim about embracing change and technology during distance learning

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Melissa Lim uses words that appear to be unusual when describing how the school district treats distance learning. It’s an opportunity.

It is well documented that public schools across the country are still tackling the challenge of learning everything remotely, from device protection to online student participation. However, despite these issues, some educators are seeing opportunities to approach education in new ways.

This is one of the reasons EdTech chose Lim as one of the 2020 K12 IT influencers. Lim, a technology integration specialist at Portland Public Schools in Oregon, recently responded to a question from EdTech about how she and other educators are finding innovation opportunities during remote learning.

EDTECH: With the expansion of distance learning, what are the educational technology trends and innovation opportunities you are looking for?

LIM: The move to remote learning required Portland Public Schools to complete a digital toolkit. This collection of purchased applications is available to all PPS students, teachers, and staff. These are the basic digital resources for technology-enhanced teaching during face-to-face and distance learning. We’re using the pandemic almost completely one-to-one with Chromebooks as an opportunity to address family technology and internet access issues, trying to break the digital divide.

EDTECH: How do you encourage your peers to use technology for education and learning now and in the future?

LIM: Since our standard district video conferencing tool is Google Meet, teachers are trying to gain more experience and comfort using it and to introduce more features. We are eagerly awaiting changes from Google. Teachers do a great job of incorporating social and emotional learning practices into virtual class meetings. Our school district has a two-week soft start to establish familiarity with classroom routines, best practices, and technology resources for students and families.

EDTECH: How has the pivot to remote learning permanently changed the way you work?

LIM: The district closure in mid-March forced teachers to use distance learning and technology they had never experienced before. As a result, teachers are familiar with digital resources and tools and have less fear of technology. Now starting the year in a virtual environment, our district has the opportunity to do something else during the next academic year. Teachers have a brief experience with these new technologies and are confident that they understand the benefits. They are more prepared and incorporate these new resources into their education, whether online or in the classroom.

Editor’s Note: This Q & A is part of a series featuring K12’s influential educators and technology professionals, focusing on the innovations taking place throughout the school community and education during distance learning. I am. See the first, second and third articles in this series.

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