Giving Compass' Take:

• Stephen Noonoo explains the perplexing debate over how long and challenging the remote learning school day should be.

• How does the remote learning school day affect students with especially challenging home lives during the pandemic? What can we learn from coronavirus about the relationship between time and effectiveness in American education?

• Find funds to help guide your coronavirus giving towards education and more.


In an effort to provide more definitive answers, districts, schools and a handful of states have begun issuing guidelines on shaping the school day into something both manageable and productive for students. But the time recommendations vary, and their origins are often hazy.

Adding to the cacophony are experts who say that focusing too much on time runs contrary to the fundamental nature of remote learning.

“In short, online learning is a delivery modality that supports mastery of content, regardless of how short or long a student has been in a seat,” explains Kerry Rice, a professor at Boise State University in Idaho who has studied effective distance learning at the K-12 level. “So you can think of it in this simplified way: In traditional classrooms, time is constant while learning is variable. In online classrooms time is variable, while the learning is constant.

Suffice to say, there is no firm consensus about how much work is appropriate—and likely won’t be any time soon. “No two states are the same,” says Robert Hull, CEO of the National Association of State Boards of Education. “Their governance structure is different, their policies are different, their laws are different and their levels of authority are different.”

Varied as they are, the benchmarks aim to discourage schools from trying to recreate long, traditional school days that would be unmanageable at home. But if “time is variable” in online environments, as Rice contends, these benchmarks may not be too useful, since online learning works best when students and teachers focus on content mastery over the number of hours spent on learning.

Read the full article about the remote learning school day by Stephen Noonoo at EdSurge.