There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a major interruption in daily life. Even though we are paused from seeing our friends and family, going out to eat, shopping and moving freely about, education is moving full steam ahead. Schools have transitioned from traditional learning to a whole new way of learning in a matter of days. While it may not be perfect, our profession has shown an amazing amount of strength, positivity, and growth during this uncertain time in history.
In Indiana, we are choosing to keep learning afloat. Our educators and working tirelessly to transition to what our Department of Education has titled Continuous Learning. Schools and educators who have little to no experience with digital learning, virtual learning, online learning, or blended learning, or even understand the difference in the terms, have jumped in to keep the learning happening for our students.
Here to Help
Indiana Online and PLConnect, two departments with the Central Indiana Educational Service Center, teamed up to provide Keep Indiana Learning, which was modeled after our partners at Michigan Virtual. The 1500+ members of the Keep Indiana Learning Facebook group have access to resources posted from members all over the state.
Leading the charge are Kara Heichelbech, Innovation and Learning Manager with Indiana Online, and Carrie Rosebrock, Professional Learning Specialist at PLConnect. They are working to support educators through the community by sharing resources and best practices in online and continuous learning activities.
In addition to the Facebook group promoting various resources, Kara and Carrie created a Keep Indiana Learning resource board compiled of 25 short videos from not only them, but also from educators across the state. The board features resources for curriculum, eLearning 101 and tools, advice for support roles and a few longer webinar videos. Each day, a video from the board is featured to the Facebook group.
While these resources are valuable to our educators, keeping our community in the discussion was a priority. Therefore, each day, a discussion post is also featured. A few examples are:
- I would love to see a lesson about…
- Share an act of kindness you observed this week.
- Complete this sentence: I hope my students know…
- Share a must-have for your at-home teaching environment.
- How did you find joy today?
During this time of isolation, it is important to create a sense of connection, even if it is done virtually.
Keep Indiana Learning will continue even after the pandemic recedes, so we created a website (keepindianalearning.org) to promote and house all of the resources developed. We hope to launch the website in early May, and we invite you to check back to see some of the resources we have designed and shared.
Building a Community
In developing Keep Indiana Learning, our community network is the most valuable piece, and our number one priority is for our educators across the state to know we are here to support them no matter the situation in education. We are excited for this opportunity to learn and grow with some of the best in the profession, and to continue to help build a strong community of educators across the state. We are all in this together, and our community goal is to Keep Indiana Learning.
And I think we are doing just that.
About the Author
Kara Heichelbech is the Innovation and Learning Manager at Indiana Online, which serves over 25,000 students annually. Kara graduated with a BS in Marketing from Indiana University, and after 10+ years in corporate America, she completed a transition-to-teaching program and earned her MAT and MBA from the University of Indianapolis.
As an educator, Kara has served many different roles, including classroom teacher, department chair, instructional e-coach, and administrator. She has been involved in many technology-related aspects at her various schools and serves on the Indiana Connected Educators board. She also presents at various conferences, sharing her love for technology with colleagues.