According to Lourdes Principal, Catherine Merryman, “Our blended learning philosophy has pointed us in a direction that demanded we provide our students with state-of-the-art technological resources which includes a one-to-one student Chromebook program & SMS. This academic and instructional plan put us ahead of the curve in transitioning to online learning during these uncertain and confusing times.” 

On March 13 when Lourdes announced that the school building will close and shift to remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Administration and Faculty set aside two days to prepare and plan on a smooth transition. Video conference meetings were carried out and the administration assured the faculty that they had their full support.  

Mrs. Merryman remarks, “We had to close our building, but we knew that it was important that our school remained open with preparation and teaching continuing. Our preparation for flexible online learning demonstrates the value of Lourdes’ Catholic education to our students, their parents and our community. We have a great administration and faculty that provides quality education in this time of crisis while continuing to share our faith.”

It is through tools such as Canvas Learning Management, GoGuardian, Loom, PlayPosit, and Labster that teachers have the ability to keep track of student progress. Lourdes teachers have been using these tools for years, which allowed them to quickly and smoothly move their classes online over a weekend.  

Canvas LMS makes entire course content available including class notes, video lectures, assignments, assessments, and parents can observe all interactions and track grades for specific assignments and monitor their students’ progress. It also provides analytics that allows administrators and teachers the ability to monitor student engagement, analyze student learning outcomes and make instructional adjustments to enhance students’ achievement.

GoGuardian provides direct monitoring of students’ screens during assigned class periods to ensure they are staying on task and maintains the integrity of work or testing being done on Chromebook. 

Loom records lectures while displaying the teacher, their presentation screens, and digital annotations which provides an audio and visual experience that simulates the classroom. 

PlayPosit allows engagement for visual learners with clear learning objectives/videos that pause for a check for understanding in the form of multiple-choice or free-response questions and allows the teacher to gather assessment data such as how often a video was watched or which portions were viewed. With this data, teachers gain insight into which areas of their content might be difficult to follow allowing them to focus on clarification. 

Finally, with Labster students are able to complete virtual science labs on their Chromebooks and have their results returned into the Canvas gradebook.

“Students need a multitude of resources available in order to be successful,” comments Mrs. Merryman.  “For most students, nothing substitutes for the teacher-to-student experience in the classroom but Canvas, PlayPosit, and Loom when utilized within the online learning module can effectively mimic an authentic classroom experience. It is obvious that remote instruction is different and has some disadvantages such as the lack of immediacy in being able to respond to a student’s question, but there are also many advantages such as self-pacing which allows students to rewind instruction if they missed a detail and utilize tutorials and video lectures for repetition.”

Lourdes’ parents seem to agree.  “We have been impressed with the way Lourdes has transitioned to online learning. They all have done an outstanding job during this difficult time”, remarks Jennifer Mullan, parent of a current junior at the school.  Freshman parent, Amanda Zuidema agrees commenting, “We truly appreciate the speed in which the team turned around online learning and the constant communication to parents.”

In addition, the students have adapted rather quickly. “My kids completed their first day of distance learning today with no confusion, states Jennifer Holup, parent of two freshmen students.  “No questions like, ‘What do I do?’ ‘How do I do this’ etc. They knew exactly what to do from all of their teachers and were able to complete all of the day’s assignments with no issues. “

Lourdes administration continues to be in communication through email and, as needed, video conferencing with the faculty, adapting as needed.  Lourdes is well equipped to be in this online learning mode for the long haul.