Virtual School Meanderings

May 18, 2022

Who Do I See About This?

So in the report entitled Understanding Pandemic Pedagogy: Differences Between Emergency Remote, Remote, and Online Teaching that I wrote with a variety of co-authors back in December 2020, we outlined the following information:

Many have also called for schools, districts, and systems to engage in planning for instructional continuity through distance and online learning to address longer school closures for the past decade. Barbour (2010) illustrated the planning required for remote teaching when he wrote:

in Singapore online and blended learning was so pervasive that teaching in online and virtual environments was a required course in their teacher education programs and schools are annually closed for week-long periods to prepare the K-12 system for pandemic or natural disaster forced closures. (p. 310). In fact, the use of distance learning to address issues of instructional continuity during a pandemic is not a new concept. McCracken (2020) described how during the Spanish flu pandemic the telephone – a technology only 40 years old at the time – was being used for high school students in Long Beach. According to the author, “the fact that California students were using it as an educational device was so novel that it made the papers” (para. 2).

Another example was the polio epidemic in New Zealand in 1948, which closed all of that country’s schools (Te Kura, 2018). At the time the Correspondence School – now Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu – used traditional correspondence education to send lessons to every household, as well as using educational radio to broadcast lessons during the first semester of the school year.

More recently, Barbour et al. (2011) reported that following high levels of absenteeism during the H1N1 influenza pandemic of 2009, a number of private schools in Boliva developed their own virtual classrooms and trained teachers on how to teach in that environment. The report specifically noted that this trend did not translate within the public school system as it had in places like Hong Kong and Singapore. With respect to Hong Kong, Alpert (2011) described how online learning helped facilitate continued access to instruction in 2003 when schools had to close due to the SARS outbreak. While the SARS closure was consistent with the emergency remote teaching we have seen in North America with the current COVD-19 pandemic, following the outbreak school began to implement planning for a more formal use of online learning for future school disruptions. This planning was evident during the H1N1 outbreak in 2008, when 9 remote teaching allowed approximately 560,000 to continue learning during that pandemic induced school closure (Latchem & Jung, 2009).

Extended school closures due to pandemics have not been the only potential source of guidance. For example, a school or district could use the lessons learned in a case described by Mackey et al. (2012), who outlined “the immediate post-earthquake challenges of redesigning courses using different blends of face-to-face and online activities to meet the needs of on-campus, regional campus, and distance pre-service teacher education students” (p. 122), to plan for remote teaching. Rush et al. (2016) described many of the aspects that schools should plan for in case they found themselves in the position of having to transition to remote teaching to “sustaining school operations when a disaster makes school buildings inaccessible or inoperable for an extended period of time” (p. 188). The list of topics included issues surrounding connectivity, device distribution, teacher preparation, instructional modalities, content creation/curation, etc.. While only published in April of this year, using interviews and focus groups conducted in 2017 and 2018, Schwartz et al. (2020) described the lessons learned following the 2017 hurricane season on how distance learning could be used as “a way to continue instruction in emergencies and can support social distancing” (p. 2). Simply put, the potential to use distance and online mediums to transition remote teaching to ensure continuity of learning in both the short-term and long- term has been a key strategy, and one that researchers have studied. (pp. 8-9)

At the time I thought I was clever, particularly given that I was the Barbour that was cited above.  But a couple of days ago, my colleague Chuck Hodges was looking through the National Education Technology Plan from 2017 and he tweeted this:

[the actual image he included is below]

Yesterday I asked him if he knew where to find older plans and shortly thereafter he responded, and told me to look on pages xix and 47 of the 2010 National Education Technology Plan.

3.5 Develop a teaching force skilled in online instruction.

As online learning becomes an increasingly important part of our education system, we need to provide online and blended learning experiences that are more participatory and personalized and that embody best practices for engaging all students. This creates both the need and opportunity for educators who are skilled in instructional design and knowledgeable about emerging technologies. Crucial to filling this need while ensuring effective teaching are appropriate standards for online courses and teaching and a new way of approaching online teacher certification. (p. xix)

Growing Demand for Skilled Online Instruction

As online learning becomes an increasingly important part of our education system at all levels, this creates both the need and opportunity for educators who are skilled in online instruction and the demand for greater knowledge of the most effective practices. As we implement online learning, we should make sure that students’ learning experiences address the full range of expertise and competencies as reflected in standards and use meaningful assessments of the target competencies. Crucial to filling this need while ensuring effective teaching are appropriate standards for online courses and teaching, and a new way of approaching online teacher certification that functions across state lines. (p. 47)

So as early as 2010 the US Department of Education were calling on teacher education programs to ensure that pre-service and in-service teachers were capable of online instruction.

Yet, even today – after three school years of pandemic-induced disruptions – can we honestly say that teachers are capable enough with online instruction that they could have their student in person on a Friday afternoon, be forced into remote teaching on Monday morning, and still provide the same quality of learning experience to their students?

So who do we see about the fact that teacher education has ignored, and many would argue is still ignoring, these calls for over a decade?

January 6, 2022

Call for Chapter Proposals – Research, Practice, and Innovations in Teacher Education During a Virtual Age

This opportunity may be of interest to some readers.

Dear Michael Barbour,

Happy New Year! Please see the information below regarding a call for chapter proposals for an edited book, Research, Practice, and Innovations in Teacher Education During a Virtual Age.

Call for Chapters:

Proposals Submission Deadline: February 12, 2022

Full Chapters Due: June 12, 2022


This publication is focused on teacher education, specifically, contemporary teacher education as it is researched and practiced within the current virtual age. Decades of research have shown that early-career teachers face a number of challenges and hold an increasingly wide set of responsibilities. Teacher educators, therefore, must think carefully about how to prepare early-career teachers for the profession. Additionally, however, the work of teaching and teacher education has become increasingly complex within the context of the current virtual age, including the prominent reality of social media and the significant possibilities of (and sometimes necessities for) online teaching and learning. The possibilities of the virtual age can serve as valuable resources for teachers and teacher educators; however, in order to utilize these resources responsibly and productively, researchers and practitioners of teacher education must better understand the new potentials and pitfalls related to teaching and learning that are present within this virtual age. This publication, therefore, focuses on innovations related to the researching of teachers, teaching, and teacher education as well as innovations in the curriculum and pedagogy of teacher education. The aim of this edited book is to inform and deepen discussions related to how teacher education can address the educational possibilities within this virtual age.

This publication will make a significant contribution to scholarship on teacher education by presenting a variety of evidence-based methods that can be used to develop and improve aspects of teacher education within this virtual age, including the curriculum and pedagogy of online teacher education as well as effective ways to prepare preservice teachers for the realities of online teaching and online learning. This publication will address the specific challenges, resources, and possibilities that exist for teacher educators and early-career teachers as they relate to teaching and learning in virtual, online contexts.

This publication will be useful for all programs of teacher education as well as for scholars of teacher education. This publication will provide practical strategies for the design of the curriculum and pedagogy of teacher education and will also present a variety of research methodologies that can be utilized to research the challenges and productive possibilities related to teacher education within the context of online teaching and online learning. This publication will serve as an especially timely and valuable resource for practicing K-12 educators who are currently working within virtual contexts as well as for teacher education programs that are increasingly preparing aspiring teachers for teaching and learning within the context of virtual classrooms.

Recommended Topics

  1. Preparing preservice teachers for online teaching and learning
  2. Innovations in online teaching and online learning
  3. Challenges related to online teaching and online learning
  4. The use of social media in education
  5. Teacher social networks
  6. The curriculum and pedagogy of online teacher education
  7. The observation, assessment, and evaluation of teaching in the context of online teaching
  8. The assessment of student learning within the context of online teaching and online learning
  9. The use of data in online teaching and online learning
  10. Responsibilities of early-career teachers in contemporary society
  11. Challenges faced by early-career teachers in contemporary society
  12. Research methods that can be utilized to research the experiences of early-career teachers teaching in an online context
  13. Theoretical frameworks and philosophical frameworks that can be applied to analyze the experience of teaching in contemporary society
  14. Teacher-student relationships within the context of online teaching and online learning
  15. The use of instructional technology for teacher education
  16. The use of instructional technology in the teaching and learning of specific subject matter and content areas
  17. The self-study of teacher education practices within the context of online teacher education
  18. The organizational structure of teacher education programs
  19. Current trends in educational policy and teacher education program accountability

Submission Procedure

Researchers and practitioners are invited to submit on or before February 12, 2022, a chapter proposal of 1,000 to 2,000 words clearly explaining the mission and concerns of his or her proposed chapter. Authors will be notified by February 26, 2022 about the status of their proposals and sent chapter guidelines. Full chapters are expected to be submitted by June 12, 2022, and all interested authors must consult the guidelines for manuscript submissions at prior to submission. All submitted chapters will be reviewed on a double-blind review basis. Contributors may also be requested to serve as reviewers for this project.


Aaron Zimmerman

Texas Tech University

K-12 Online Learning Chairs
Qijie Cai and Cecil R. Short

March 22, 2021

NEW Open Access Book! What Teacher Educators Should Have Learned from 2020

I believe a few of the chapters that I just posted in that sequence of citations came from this book.

NEW Open Access eBook
What Teacher Educators
Should Have Learned From 2020
While a global pandemic certainly brought with it loss and devastation, there were still places where light and hope could break though. In every difficult thing there is the space to grow and to learn, and the field of education is no exception.

This book, edited by Kent State University’s Richard Ferdig and Kristine Pytash, and published by AACE, begins the hard work of synthesizing what the experiences of 2020 can show us about how to remake education for the future. As we look back and look ahead, it’s clear that education is not going to return to anything like pre-pandemic schooling. Instead, a workable balance of in-person and digital learning must be found to motivate and educate all students. While many people yearn for a “return to normal,” the shift to emergency remote teaching, accompanied by a resurgence in the civil rights movement, made clear that “normal” really only worked for the privileged few.

We must see 2020 as an opportunity for an educational revolution. There is great value in what we can learn, uncover, unpack, and change from education in 2020, and this book invites us to do just that.

Resources for

  • Teacher educators interested in implementing social-emotional pedagogy
  • Instructors looking for best practices in teaching field experiences online
  • Scholars and practitioners interested in eXtended Reality like AR, VR, and 360
  • Researchers looking to find new areas for promising research within technology and teacher education
  • Student readings
  • and anyone interested in the role of technology in preservice and inservice teacher education.
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November 27, 2020

PS: Political Science & Politics – COVID-19 and Emergency e-Learning in Political Science and International Relations

While not specifically related to K-12 distance, online, and blended learning, this item scrolled through my Twitter feed a couple of days ago.

So these are articles written by political scientists about transitioning their teaching to a remote format over the past few months.  Given that my undergraduate degree was in political science, I was curious to see what was written. The first thing that caught my attention as I read through the different articles was the considerable overlap in the struggles and decision making between a group of political scientists (i.e., university faculty who have a Ph.D. in political science, but in most cases no education or pedagogical training at all) and what teachers (i.e., those that have been specifically trained to be effective teachers) faced.  The implicit message or take away that I had upon reflection is that while education has been pushing technology integration and blended learning since the early 1980s, teachers were no better prepared for this pandemic pedagogy than folks that had no training and little experience.

Additionally, there was one article that caught my particular attention.  A doctoral fellow at the University of Ottawa, Michael Murphy, had published an article entitled “Concluding Thoughts: What Can(’t) we Research About Emergency e-Learning?” that I thought included some especially poignant reflections.  Murphy begins the article with this paragraph:

The interventions in this spotlight draw attention to various ways that political science and international relations experienced the emergency e-learning transition in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. By way of conclusion, I turn to the questions still to be asked about pandemic pedagogy and what lessons it might hold for teaching and learning. Although thought-provoking and productive for our present reality, the norm/exception logic embedded in analysis of pandemic pedagogy risks overemphasizing the emergency. In its least harmful form, attention to the emergency nostalgizes the norm; at worst, overemphasis of deficiencies in the emergency crowd out space in which those in the normal condition might be expressed. The tightrope to be walked in researching pandemic pedagogy is that careful examination is necessary but may blind our analysis to important elements.

He continues by suggesting that issues around the scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL) or the examination of one’s own teaching is an appropriate avenue; as well as an analysis of the barriers to access and other unequal experiences of emergency e-learning, the mental health impacts of COVID-19 and emergency e-learning, and the effectiveness of a collaborative vs. an institution-by-institution response to COVID-19 emergency e-learning.  Murphy concludes be stating:

Increasing the attention to the exceptionality of emergency e-learning, however, comes at a cost. Examining the deficiencies, inequalities, and barriers of emergency e-learning as exceptional experiences obscures the deficiencies, inequalities, and barriers that exist in the normal arrangements of educational systems (Murphy 2020, 502). Despite specific attention being warranted to this exceptional experience of emergency e-learning, it is important that its difference from the normal condition not be overstated. The digital divide, racial inequality, policy coordination, and other issues are not limited to the case of COVID-19 responses. It is our hope that this spotlight’s presentation of various perspectives will provide insights as professors and administrators prepare for an uncertain future of COVID-19. We also hope that it sparks a broader conversation and research project into the politics of the classroom, in both exceptional and normal times.

Wise words indeed!

Be sure to follow the link at and check out all of the articles:

August 3, 2020

[REPOST] Rationale For The Special Report – Teacher Education And K-12 Online Learning

This entry was originally posted at

The genesis for this report began in late 2016. In fact, the data for this report was originally collected from February 2017 to April 2017. The data was analyzed from September 2017 to December 2017, and much of the report was originally written from January 2018 to June 2018. However, as many research projects go, the drive to see this report to completion waned. The K-12 school year ended, the post-secondary academic year had concluded, summer was upon us once again. Essentially, the project got pushed to the side.

The Fall came and the demands of beginning a new K-12 school year and a new academic post-secondary year were upon everyone. The new school year introduced all stakeholders in the field to the Government of Ontario’s e-learning announcements of 15 March 2019, and later 21 November 2019, which would propose a new regulatory regime in that province. For us in the field, most of 2019 – and even the beginning of 2020 – were focused on understanding the various aspects of these proposals, examining the research to support those proposals, and combating massive misinformation and misunderstanding within the media and general public – and the draft of this report continued to languish.

The year 2020 also brought with it a new challenge to those in the field of distance, online, and blended learning. As early as January 2020 (maybe even the end of the previous year for those paying closer attention), rumblings of the beginning of a new health threat began to emerge. By February it was assumed that this would, or at least had the potential to become a global pandemic. It was at this time that we revived our work on this report. While the data was already dated by three years, as educators would be forced with having to manage emergency home-based or remote teaching, we felt it important to provide an assessment of how well those individuals were formally prepared by their teacher training programs to meet this challenge.

The report can be accessed at:

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