Distance Learning at FIS

FIS’s approach to distance learning begins with the assertion that the learning experiences teachers design when school is in regular session cannot be simply replicated through distance learning. In particular, the invaluable social interactions and mediation that occurs naturally among students and between teachers and students cannot be re-created in the same way. Additionally, teachers must find new methods for providing timely and specific feedback to support student growth and learning. Accordingly, this DLP provides guidelines and insights about how FIS’s faculty can leverage digital and experiential learning in ways that bring curriculum to life.

FIS deliberately uses the term distance learning rather than technology-specific labels such as “virtual learning,” “e-learning,” or “online classes.” This choice reflects our conviction that quality learning can occur at a distance without solely relying on computers. Rather than being tied to an electronic device for their learning, FIS’s goal is for students to read, communicate, and engage in authentic learning experiences, while continuing to be physically active. Accordingly, our school’s shift to distance learning begins with consideration of how we can intentionally align distance learning experiences with our Definition of Learning, which is provided below.

FIS Definition of Learning

Learning is the lifelong cycle of curiosity, discovery, experience and reflection that results in the acquisition of new understandings, attitudes and skills. These enable us to construct meaning, make connections, take action, and grow intellectually, emotionally and socially.

– Approved by FIS Board of Trustees [2018]

Aligning this DLP to FIS’s Definition of Learning gives teachers permission to think differently about the opportunities and possibilities that may result from the challenging circumstances associated with any school closure. As teachers reflect on how to best design or redesign their units, lessons, or courses, we encourage them to consider the following questions:

  • How can I leverage digital platforms to provide learning experiences rich in engagement, social interaction, and feedback?

  • How can I help my students manage the worry, fear, or isolation they may be experiencing as a result of this emergency or crisis?

  • What are the most important understandings and skills I can help my students develop at this time? And how can I help my students construct their own understandings?

  • What are the authentic learning opportunities that have resulted from this emergency or crisis? And where might my students’ curiosity and motivation open other new possibilities?

  • How can I design learning experiences that address the needs of different types of learners who need different kinds of support and guidance?

  • How will I assess student learning in meaningful ways?

  • At the core of FIS’s approach to distance learning is the belief we should think differently about our priorities when responding to challenging circumstances, and we should embrace new opportunities for students to learn in authentic, meaningful ways.