Online Learning Environment FAQs

Hybrid Option 2 – Online Learning Environment FAQs


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Q: In Hybrid Option 2, will online learners be expected to be online for the entire day?
A:  Online learners will NOT need to be online for the entire day.

For elementary students, a typical seven-hour school day will have approximately 1-2 hours set aside for classroom virtual meetings, dependent on grade level. Students learning online will have the opportunity to virtually connect with art, music, P.E., and library teachers; they will have one related art per day for 20 minutes.

Junior high students will begin the day with independent learning, small group instruction, or 1:1 meetings with the teacher. The rest of the day will consist of:

  • 3-4 online meetings
  • Independent work
  • Breaks for creativity

You can see sample schedules here at Elementary Day in the Life and Secondary Day in the Life. We are still working on these schedules to make them more clear, so details for specific grades are available here: Hybrid Option 2: Online.

Q: What online learning management system is WDMCS using?
A: Canvas is our online learning management system.  It allows teachers to design their own instruction and assessments aligned to our grade-level standards and it integrates with many different resources and programs.  This allows the teacher to design the learning while still having access to different programs and resources. Parents will be able to monitor for missing work within Canvas. Teachers will also communicate with parents if there are concerns and be expected to keep their courses and grade books up-to-date.

Q: How will students keep track of assignments and find class resources they need?
A:  Canvas is West Des Moines Community Schools’ official learning management system. A learning management system helps provide, track, and report on classes and assignments.  Students and families can find important information like textbooks, resources, homework, discussions, and more in Canvas. Secondary families may be familiar with Canvas, but elementary families may not have used Canvas yet.

Our goal is to have all resources and assignments available within Canvas for online learners. As always, teachers will be expected to keep their courses and grade books up-to-date. Parents can use Canvas to monitor for missing work, and teachers will communicate with parents if there are concerns. Watch for more information from building administrators and teachers in the coming weeks about Canvas and explain how it will be used for their students.

Q: Will teachers be managing on-site and online students at the same time?
Potentially. We plan for elementary and junior high students learning online to follow a schedule with some classroom virtual meetings and built-in breaks, which may be supported by dedicating some staff to online teaching only. Another option would be to have teachers pre-record lessons for online students to watch at the time that works best for them. For high school students, we plan to have students “remote in” to some classes, allowing more time for teachers to interact with students both ways.

Both plans depend on the number of students that choose online and on-site learning. No matter what, WDMCS will ensure teachers have appropriate time to engage with and provide feedback to all students. We will add more information as it becomes available.

Q: Who will teach my student’s class when the teacher is ill or on leave?
Because over 25% of our elementary families have chosen to participate online, students from more than one school will learn together in a shared online class experience. Your student will get to connect with students from across the district who are also learning online, but will all have the same “online teacher.” Elementary families received an email Friday, Aug. 21, with the name of their student’s teacher.

When a teacher is ill or on leave, your student will have a substitute teacher to support continued instruction.

Q: What is WDMCS doing to help students that don’t learn well in an online learning environment? Do you have advice for parents whose students may not stay focused on online learning?
A: It will be important for teachers and students to develop routines together within a virtual learning environment, including ensuring students know ways they can communicate with their teacher and gain additional support when needed. Time for small group instruction and feedback will be an important part of connecting with students.

The virtual schedule breaks direct instruction time into small age-appropriate chunks as well as provides for lots of breaks to help students stay focused on their learning. The time between periods might be used to do independent learning for that class such as practice, reading, or small group collaboration.  It could also be a time for the student to take a break from the computer to take care of personal needs.

Communication between teachers, students, and families will be very important in helping students meet or exceed learning standards. Teachers will be providing feedback to students and supporting their learning. Parents are encouraged to communicate with teachers when there are questions or needed supports.

Q: How will WDMCS assess online learners’ progress? How can I support my online learner during assessments?
A: Class tests, screeners, or other checkpoints will be used to assess online learners’ progress, the same as on-site learners. Students must do their own work when they are taking assessments online. Parent/guardians and others should not help their students with any assessments.

Learn more on the Online Learning page.

Q: Will there still be an “office hours” time set aside for teachers to “meet” with the students opting to learn online at home?
A:  Yes. Office hours are part of the virtual continuous learning schedule. If at the 9-12 level, a student is joining an on-site class remotely, they will connect with teachers during the regular scheduled time.

Q: Will recordings of online instructions be available for students to reference?
A:  All class check-ins, class closings, and virtual instruction at both the elementary and secondary level will be recorded for students to review.

Q: My student is part of the Project-Based Learning Network (PBLN) pathway. How will this impact my student’s learning?
A:  Students will continue to experience opportunities for collaborative and project-based work regardless of which learning environment we are in this school year. Teachers are working to develop creative solutions for all of our students.

Q: What about vocational classes like shop and home economics? How will science and practical labs take place?
A: WDMCS will continue to find creative ways to provide hands-on learning opportunities as necessary. WDMCS Teaching & Learning Services is currently developing standards-based criteria for these classes and opportunities. We will also identify how classes can maintain social distance and other health and safety measures during hands-on learning.

Q: What is the expectation for the 30 minutes between periods?
A: The time between periods might be used to do independent learning for that class such as practice, reading, or small group collaboration.  It could also be a time for the student to take a break from the computer to take care of personal needs.

Q: Could a student take certain courses on-site but others online?
A: All students need to select fully online or fully on-site. Courses will likely be staffed by a teacher online, with final numbers to be monitored following July 31. If there is a specific course with only a few online students, having students remote in could be a possibility.

Q: How will WDMCS support new families who choose the online option?
A. New families will be provided guidance on how to log into Canvas and sync with their students courses in order to monitor and support learning. Parents will also be provided the  Online Tips for Students to support their at-home learning environment.

Q: What happens if my student is experiencing technical issues out of their control (i.e. internet outage, device malfunctions, etc.)?
A: Students who have issues with their Chromebook can submit a support request.

Report an issue with your student’s Chromebook >