Building Engagement with Distance Learning

5) Capacity


Gail Ghere, Ph.D.

Jennifer Sommerness, Ed.S.

Terri Vandercook, Ph.D

This graphic shows three adults discussing questions about the student’s learning priorities, the IEP goals for school and home, data collection and the instructional tools that will be used. This information becomes the basis for determining capacity building for individual team members and the student.

Do all team members, including the family, know

  • the student's learning priorities?
  • the plan for teaching the goals at school and home?
  • the plan for collecting data?
  • how to use the no-tech, low-tech, and high-tech instructional tools and strategies?

The ability to transition instruction between school and home with the least amount of difficulty does not just happen. To be effective, it takes some upfront coordination and continued collaboration throughout distance learning.

Think back to what was learned from Steps 1 to 4 of the 5C Process. Use this information to plan for Step 5: Capacity. The team members need to know the IEP goals in each learning component and the instructional plan for focusing on the IEP goals at school or at home. Team members may need some professional development to develop the skills to implement the plan. This may mean obtaining some coaching, attending a district professional development session, or watching a YouTube video and having their questions answered. The more that district tools are used, the greater the chance that the district offers some related professional development. The options for just-in-time professional development are vast, but the upfront planning must be purposeful to assure a common base of understanding of the what and why. It involves identifying the capacity needs of the team, inclusive of the family, and developing a plan fits into the collaborative discussions. 

In addition, as soon as school starts, explicitly teach students to use technology platforms and teleconference applications, as well as the no-tech and low-tech tools, to the best of their ability. Some students may be able to use the applications and tools independently, while others may require support. The greater the student’s independence in using the tools and understanding the strategies, the less support they will need from others both at home or school. This will also need to be individualized so that all students, despite their level of independence, are able to participate, even partially, in instruction to the greatest extent possible.

Use The Learning Matrix Tool​ to consider the total instructional plan and identify the capacity building needs for any team member (inclusive of the student) to implement the plan. 

Key Questions to Consider

Key questions the team should discuss are: 

  • What are the student’s overall learning priorities?
  • What is the plan for supporting the teaching and learning of IEP goal areas at school and home?
  • How will data be collected, by whom, and when?
  • What do I need to know to use the no-tech, low-tech, and high-tech instructional tools and strategies (current or that will be strategically initiated) to support student learning?

View an example that illustrates what responses to the questions in Step 5 might entail