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Blended learning tools to help students balance home, in-school learning

Posted at 10:23 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 22:23:31-04

NEW YORK CITY — Now that New York City schools have a set date for reopening, teachers, students and parents can start to turn their attention to learning.

Unlike the spring, this school year will open with some students in classrooms and others learning virtually. And that blended approach means new challenges for everyone.

Larry Lieberman, the CEO of Mouse, a non-profit organization, says the company is trying to ease some of the tech anxiety as kids head back to school this year for blended learning.

"One of the things that's important for parents to know is that blended learning actually is a thing," Lieberman said.

Mouse uses technology to drive innovation in learning. The company has worked with the Department of Education for more than 20 years. In the late 90s, Mouse helped wire public schools to bring the internet into the classroom.

Today the organization is training teachers to use the Internet to bring the classroom home.

To help make the start of the school year as seamless as possible, Mouse is hosting online classes for educators. So far, they've trained about 10% of the city's public school teachers.

"Just by experiencing the online learning that we're providing to these teachers, they are actually using the same tools that they're using to engage with their students," Lieberman said.

For parents, Lieberman has some analog recommendations for the home portion of blended learning.

He says developing a schedule and creating a dedicated workspace — even if it's just clearing off the kitchen table — are two of the easiest ways to increase chances for success at home.

Still, Lieberman recognizes the digital divide that exists between the 1.1 million students inside city schools.

The DOE tried to bridge that gap in the spring by making sure families got the computers they needed for online learning.

Liebermann says you don't need to run out to upgrade your tech before the first day.

"The good news for remote learning and this blended learning environment is that it's not really a high-tech experience," he said. "Old computers work. Old tablets work."