Dear Parents and Colleagues,
Thank you to all the participants in the virtual meeting last week using the Thought Exchange Platform. Many of us are becoming accustomed to Zoom and Google Meets. Unlike these virtual meetings the Thought Exchange platform allows for recording, categorizing and prioritizing the comments and thoughts instantly. This provides for both qualitative and quantifiable reflection on the exchange of thoughts and ideas.
Below is a word cloud of the thoughts from the two meetings that were conducted first in English and then in Spanish. The platform allows for a range of ideas to be automatically translated so we are no longer limited to one or two languages.
As with many of the conversations we have been having with parents and colleagues, there are a range of thoughts regarding the current and future status of learning within the context of COVID-19. As you can see from this word cloud the centre of all our thoughts are children and learning. Other important factors are health and safety. Concerns with the economy are on all of our minds and it is something the Board and administration is taking very much into account also as we develop our strategies for next year.
We are currently finalizing broad learning models that can adapt to essentially three scenarios, that we are required by the authorities to start school virtually through continued distance learning, that we are able to re-open the campus, or most likely a combination of these, with contingencies for periodic closure if the situation with the pandemic thus requires and provision for continued learning support for students who are unable to attend school. There are many models of schools in other regions reopening with these same broad parameters.
We have a fantastic team of educators and parents working together and understanding that this is a situation beyond individual control. We will be communicating further details and opening up to more exchange of thoughts on specific elements of health and safety, learning and solidarity as a community that together is navigating challenging social, technological and economic waters, but also with plenty of opportunities to adapt and excel in this new reality.
Some statistics from last week’s meeting:
We had 145 participants. Not bad for our first try with this. We plan on having more similar meetings to gather thoughts and ideas from different members of our community, including students. Over 200 thoughts received nearly 6,000 ratings. It is through such generous input that we are able to most precisely identify areas mostly highly shared as well as other less shared, but nonetheless important ideas or questions,
87% of participants identified themselves as Academia Cotopaxi only, 5% from IMAGINE and 8% from both. The majority of participants were parents but a large number of faculty also participated, providing an opportunity to see different perspectives.
For parents the most frequent thoughts were with respect to health and safety. These are also our priorities. Health and safety is the fundamental focus of all our decisions. There was not a lot of variance in the categories of thoughts and questions, all are considered important, but overall second to health and safety was the type of learning models that will take place next year followed by financial/economic issues.
For our faculty the primary concern is their employment status next year, which is directly related to the thoughts parents have regarding the economic impact of this crisis. If anything beneficial is coming out of COVID-19 it is that we are realizing how interconnected and reliant we are on each other. Noone is an island and we all are navigating the same storm.
What best describes you?
Just as we are gathering data and ideas from our community we are reaching out to industry, other schools and ministries of health and education here and around the world to learn from, adopt and adapt the best practices with respect health, learning and management of our resources for the benefit of you, your children and our faculty and staff. We look forward to continued dialogue and sharing our models of learning with you with a constant understanding that we all need to be adaptable and conscious of the evolving nature of this situation.
Finally, on a much lighter but enjoyable note. I would like to share with you a couple examples of the creativity of our middle school students. This is an example of how the technology we have on hand today, more importantly, that our children have, opens opportunities we could never have imagined when we were young.
Thank you Juan Andres and Kamile in sixth grade. Two future George Lucas or Steven Spielberg learning their trade through the COVID-19 experience?
Robert van der Eyken