AWS Public Sector Blog

Advice and resources for transitioning to remote learning, from the AWS Educate community

Around the globe, the words “unprecedented times” are often heard in the news or in advertisements. Almost every industry is grappling with how to deal with these ongoing changes. It’s especially true within education. Parents are trying to educate their children from home while also working. Students are adapting to new technologies for their classes, forgoing highly anticipated rites of passage such as graduation ceremonies. And educators are figuring out ways to adapt quickly to remote learning, mobilizing with their institutions to help make necessary infrastructure adjustments to scale for long-term remote learning needs, and rallying together to help their peers as they make the journey.

In March, AWS Educate launched a global survey to understand the biggest issues facing educators during COVID-19 while also seeking educators experienced in remote learning to volunteer in a series of online workshops and webinars. Within 24 hours, thousands had responded to the survey with insights about their needs and suggestions on how AWS could help. Several hundred educators volunteered to either host a webinar or participate in office hours to help educators transition to remote learning for the first time.

As a result of the survey and through the support of AWS Educate educators, AWS Educate launched two efforts in April to provide remote learning resources: an educator-to-educator (K20) webinar series on remote instruction and a workshops from home series for educators and students that provided access to online classes for cloud skills, computer science, robotics, and machine learning.

These 42 webinars included:

Throughout the remote learning resource series, educators had tips for teachers transitioning to remote education.

First, acknowledge this is the new normal and this is probably not the last time you will need remote learning. Educators should maximize preparedness for a remote learning scenario even when we get back to the classroom.

“The current changes in education are challenging for even the most experienced in online learning due to the sheer scale requiring a need for enhanced infrastructure,” said Michael Soltys, professor and chair of computer science at California State University Channel Islands and host of one of the webinars. “With all of these changes, sharing examples to support one another is inspiring.”

Second, the shift to remote learning requires the use of different tools, so invest the time to learn them, keep current as they modify, train students on proper usage, and continuously evaluate systems as well as processes to make sure the best, most innovative methods are utilized to maximize learning outcomes as well as automation.

“With the AWS Educate Workshops at Home, we are really trying to democratize and broadly disseminate the many different things that are available that people may not have thought about. There is help available and at your fingertips to help you provide a positive experience for students. You don’t have to go at this alone,” said Perry Beaumount, lecturer at Columbia University, host of one of the webinars, and co-host of office hours.

Third, no matter what, remote learning will be a pedagogical shift where non-verbal communication is lost, so compensating with good collaborative tools is a must. Video-conferencing is a great way to create engagement. Many of the educators recommend staying away from forcing use of printers and scanners, as device ownership isn’t ubiquitous.

Lastly, be creative. Remote learning allows for new possibilities. It shouldn’t be a simulation of in-class teaching.

The AWS Educate Remote Learning Webinar Series sessions are still available on-demand, in 108 languages. Learn more about AWS Educate and the AWS Educate Remote Learning Webinar Series.

Craig Dixon

Craig Dixon

Craig Dixon works at AWS on the AWS Educate team. He helps students, veterans, and educators from around the world learn about cloud computing. Craig holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Computer Science from Boston University and a Master of Business Administration from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth where he was a Center of Digital Strategies Fellow.

Marla Bradbury

Marla Bradbury

Marla Bradbury is the marketing leader of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) global education programs and workforce team.