Until fairly recently, going to school almost always meant going into a building.

In early 2020, attending school in person became a high-risk behavior, and most schools all over the world closed to in-person classes. Students and teachers suddenly became experts in distance learning, which had previously been a small but growing option for education.

Since then, distance learning has become the de facto standard for pedagogy. Some districts periodically return to various forms of in-person learning, but health concerns lead everyone back to the same conclusion: distance learning is here and, as more people recognize its proven value, not going anywhere.

This isn’t to say that distance learning doesn’t have its own particular set of challenges.

The technology involved in distance learning can be a strain on students as well as instructors. Both presenting materials effectively and interacting with students depends on the mechanics of communication technology being available, dependable, and easy to use.

Working with students in a distraction-laden environment is a continuous (if occasionally hilarious) challenge.

Every instructor has a cute story about a student that has their cat with them during the entire class, but distractions are also a legitimate source of frustration.

One of the most effective ways to offset distraction is to have material that is truly absorbing. Students who feel connected to the subject matter and engaged are more motivated and less likely to succumb to diversions. Interest that sparks curiosity drives the desire to learn.

Finding engaging and consistently superior materials in an online environment can be a challenge in and of itself, particularly when there is a need beyond Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) curricula.

No one denies the importance of STEM, but there is also a need to go beyond it. Understanding the complexities of our world and gaining the insight to deal with those complexities is a result of deeper interactions and creatively outcomes.

One of the primary goals for The DaVinci Foundation at this time is to help increase accessibility to these innovative and engaging ¬†resources. Helping teachers and students cope with today’s stresses is paramount to us, and finding ways to increase engagement and support the joy of learning is a benefit to all.

Rebecca McClung
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