May 21, 2020

Axios Challenges and Opportunities of Remote Learning Event Transcript

Axios challenges and opportunities of remote learning event
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Axios held a virtual online event called “Challenges and Opportunities of Remote Learning.” Read the full transcript here.

 

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Kim Hart: (05:27)
Hello. Thank you so much for joining us for another virtual conversation. I’m Kim Hart, coming in live from my home in Falls Church, Virginia. Thank you to our guests who are joining us via live stream on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and our Axios website. Today, we are discussing education in a time of crisis, from living room to school room. It’ll be 30 minutes with three interviews, looking at the opportunities and challenges of remote learning as we prepare to head into the fall semester. Please join us or please follow along online at Axios Events and @Axios on Twitter. For the latest news, please follow our dashboard at Axios.com. The first segment I will be talking with Ted Mitchell, who is president of the American Council on Education. Ted is joining us live now from Los Angeles. Hi Ted.

Ted Mitchell: (06:19)
Hey Kim. Thanks for having me.

Kim Hart: (06:22)
Thanks for being here with us. So you talk every day, I’m sure, with college presidents across the country and they have a lot to grapple with, from how to reopen in the fall to maintaining viability financially and how to sustain online learning, just to name a few. What are the top priorities that you’re hearing from college presidents in your discussions with them?

Ted Mitchell: (06:49)
You know, we do talk to college presidents a lot and we survey them a lot. So we have a recent survey, the results will come out early next week, but we asked them just that question, Kim. And top of mind for them not surprisingly are summer enrollments and fall enrollments and how to plan for a fall whose circumstances are still uncertain.

Kim Hart: (07:14)
And a recent survey… Well, back in April, which seems like a lifetime ago in some ways now-

Ted Mitchell: (07:19)
Long ago.

Kim Hart: (07:20)
Of 2000 currently enrolled US college students, it found that nearly one in five are uncertain, as you mentioned, about their plans for re-enrolling in the fall, or are definitely not going to re-enroll at all. Are you anticipating a pretty broad dip in enrollment in the fall considering that uncertainty?

Ted Mitchell: (07:40)
Yeah. You know, when you look at current college students, there’s always attrition, especially between freshmen and sophomore year, so that’s usually around eight to ten percent. So let’s add on top of that another 10%. So that’s certainly an increase in attrition over what we normally see. On the other hand, let’s look at it the other way around. About 80% of students say that they’re planning on enrolling in the fall. They’re planning on enrolling in the same institution and continuing with their education. So, I think that students get it, families get it. This is an unprecedented moment in all of our histories, whether that’s in the economy, in our social life, or in education. And I think people are pretty willing to roll with the punches.

Kim Hart: (08:26)
And in rolling with the punches, I know that schools all have very different situations depending on their size, their community, what the outbreak looks like surrounding them and for the bulk of their student population. How are they making the decision about whether to reopen in person or to go to an all online situation or maybe sort of a hybrid combination of the two?

Ted Mitchell: (08:51)
You know, Kim, you started off at the top talking about the range of higher education institutions and that’s really the truth. There are over 4,000 institutions of higher education in the country, which means that there are 4,000 decision processes that are being made and individual circumstance will win the day in the end. We see institutions, like our friends at the California State University system, who’ve decided that they’re going to plan for online and if they can advance beyond that, they will. Other institutions, Purdue, Notre Dame, have gone the other way. I think both sets of decisions are right. Both sets of decisions depend on the individual circumstance of the campus. And I have deep respect for the leaders of those institutions who are making these tough decisions in challenging times.

Kim Hart: (09:42)
Are you concerned about… I’ve talked to several parents, for instance, who are not quite sold on paying the full tuition for an online environment when their kids may be missing out on a much more full, broader college experience. How do you think the college experience is going to change as a result of the remote environment? And what’s your message to parents who are concerned about whether it’s worth the tuition?

Ted Mitchell: (10:12)
Yeah, it’s a great question and it is coming up more and more. I think two things. First of all, colleges and universities are sometimes thought to be slow moving institutions, but let’s take a look in that rear view mirror. Colleges and universities have put hundreds of thousands of courses online in a matter of weeks. That was an amazing achievement. I think what is going to be important is for colleges and universities now to make the turn to providing extraordinary value through that online experience coming up in the fall, students and families will expect more than just a Zoom class online. And it’s up to all of us to provide that value.

Kim Hart: (10:56)
What else do you anticipate being provided by colleges to help bolster that value?

Ted Mitchell: (11:03)
Well, as-

Kim Hart: (11:03)
… Is to help bolster that value.

Ted Mitchell: (11:03)
Well, as we speak, colleges and universities are engaged in helping their faculty make the most out of online platforms, create opportunities for small group instruction, as well as large video instruction. I think that’s going to be important. I think that there are many ways that college support services, from career services to mental health services, can be made available online in very, very effective ways. And so I think we will see colleges and universities, not only delivering instruction online, but delivering the kinds of supports that college students and their families count on.

Kim Hart: (11:41)
And financially, what are you focusing on, in terms of the smaller colleges and universities? There’s been talk that the larger ones, the ones with large endowments, may be able to weather the storm, have more resources to put towards really robust remote learning technology and resources. What about the smaller ones, who may not have that kind of cushion to weather the next year or two?

Ted Mitchell: (12:08)
It’s going to be an important moment for a range of institutions, some of whom will need to find good partners to be able to provide the robust online learning that, Kim, you and I are talking about now. Other institutions are going to need to be more creative about expanding who they think of as their students. The majority of college students today are not 18 to 22 year olds, and colleges need to begin to cater more to the lifelong learner, the adult learner, and certainly in this economy, individuals who need to retrain and re-skill for the next generation of jobs.

Kim Hart: (12:47)
That makes sense. And I wanted to make sure we got to some audience questions. A lot of the questions that we have received from viewers have to deal with equity and ensuring that students from all backgrounds and all sorts of living situations and financial situations are able to benefit from remote learning. This question comes from Montana. What best practices have you found to engage vulnerable student populations in online learning? And are there any success stories that you’ve seen from your members?

Ted Mitchell: (13:19)
It’s a great question, and equity is of primary concern. I think we’ve seen in a variety of different ways that this pandemic has exacerbated inequalities in America, and that includes access to education. So it’s important that institutions pay close attention to providing the necessary equipment when students don’t have it, the necessary connectivity, and as I was saying a moment ago, the necessary supports. Montana State University, to go for a neighborhood example, is doing an extraordinary job in reaching out to its low income students, it’s Native American student population, and students with disabilities. So I think locally, for our listener in Montana, our viewer in Montana, I’d check out Montana State. They’re doing an extraordinary job.

Kim Hart: (14:17)
Thank you, Ted Mitchell. We’ll have to leave it there, but thank you so much for joining us today.

Ted Mitchell: (14:20)
Thank you, Kim.

Kim Hart: (14:21)
Thank you again to Cengage, our sponsor for today’s event. And I’m now going to turn it over to Jim VandeHei, Axios co-founder and CEO, who caught up with the CEO yesterday.

Jim VandeHei: (14:34)
I’m here now with Michael Hansen, the CEO of Cengage, the sponsor of today’s program, making this live event possible. Michael, there’s 18 million or more students in higher education in America today. Your company touches at least 10 million of those, yet some viewers might not be familiar with what you do. Explain, in simple terms, what Cengage is and what you do.

Michael Hansen: (14:59)
Thank you, Jim. And thanks for having me. What we do is simply we provide the students, the 18 million students that you refer to, with all of the learning materials, print and increasingly digital, so that they can successfully complete their course and their education. That’s what we do on a global scale, but our largest market is the US higher ed market.

Jim VandeHei: (15:24)
And the big question hanging in this household, where I have a daughter who is headed off to a UNC, and probably everybody who’s tuning in who knows someone headed off to college, you talk to these people running these institutions all the time, will there be a fall semester? And what will that fall semester look like, based on the conversations that you’re having?

Michael Hansen: (15:47)
Well, first of all, let me commiserate with you, because not only do I have one student going to college next year, I have one that just returned from college in the middle of semester, when he needed to change literally overnight from an on campus experience to an at home experience. So I completely sympathize as an individual, as a father of three boys going through this process. Look, the answer to your question is, there will not be one answer. In other words, right now, every institution in the United States, of the 7,000+ institutions, is scrambling to find the right answer for their individual circumstances. One thing we know to be true right now, there will not be any going back to what was before. In other words, there will be a hybrid solution. There will be solutions where people will initially go back on campus, then reserve the right, once there is potentially another outbreak, to revert back to online learning, or they will start, as California now just announced, they will start with an entire semester online in the fall. So it will run the gamut, and it really depends on the institution. But the really sad part about this is, Jim, is many, many of these institutions are very ill prepared for that hybrid situation that they’re currently facing, and it’s a race right now to get prepared.

Jim VandeHei: (17:20)
There’s some estimates that 20-25% of students might decide to take a pass on the next semester, maybe take a gap year, take a semester off given the uncertainty. Does that ring true, based on the conversations that you’re having? And if it does, what does that mean for a lot of these institutions that aren’t necessarily hugely profitable, that have preexisting budget conditions when they have more robust enrollment?

Michael Hansen: (17:49)
Yeah, Jim, the number rings definitely true, based on our conversations and observations. And I would add to this is, your daughter and my son are clearly examples, but they are not necessarily anymore the only examples. In other words, you have students who are mothers of two, single moms that are trying to get an education, attend a course in a community college, and trying to get a degree to get on with life. And for these people, the combination of the uncertainty as to whether they can have an on campus experience combined with the excessive costs that they are facing already attending college will lead them to drop out of that college experience. So what should have been a golden opportunity to retrain and reskill a lot of unemployed, that undoubtedly we’re going to see in the fall, is now turning into a potential disaster. So I think that number that you’re quoting is absolutely within the realm of the possible, and we need to act now to prevent this from happening. And it will require not only us as actors in the field, but also the federal government to step in and step up.

Jim VandeHei: (19:04)
I feel like every part of my life, when I look around my house, think about my job, think about what I do for fun, every part of my life has been upended by technology. It seems a lot different today than it was 10 years ago. But when it comes to education, it doesn’t feel like there’s been really any innovation in a lot of institutions. You’re still learning the same way, and having the similar size classrooms, and going through the same process. Will this force change? And what changes that it does force will live on, regardless of what happens with the virus?

Michael Hansen: (19:38)
Well, I think you are spot on Jim. And if anything, if I needed a reminder of that, I got that when my 19 year old son came home. And I was, within a split second, in a similar situation. We were moving 5,000 employees, in a span of 24 hours, to work from home at Cengage. 5,000 employees, 24 hours. And with very little exception, it went seamlessly. People were productive, they got home, we had all the tools, we had all the necessary infrastructure to make it work. Compare that and contrast it to my son. He came home, the experience was completely different. His education essentially grind to a halt. They went to pass/fail. He got a bunch of YouTube videos and a bunch of PowerPoints, and that was it. The professors that he had had no way of ascertaining whether he actually understood the concept or not on a remote basis. So your observation is spot on. There has been very little innovation, and it’s now coming to haunt us.

Jim VandeHei: (20:45)
One of the points that you made, one of the things that will change, that should have changed a long time ago, is the ability to do some of these classes remote. The idea of sitting in a classroom where there’s 500 people is kind of a drag anyways. Why not do it from your dormitory, or allow more people who didn’t have access to that class to now have access to the class? The experience won’t be any worse, right?

Michael Hansen: (21:07)
Absolutely, Jim. And I think that the reality is, the technology exists. It is not a question of the technology. We have the technology, we have a platform that has 3 million students every year on it, 3 million+ students on it. And we are allowing these students to actually have the learning experience, regardless of where they are currently sitting, whether that is in a dormitory, in a classroom, or at home. So, that is absolutely true. The real Achilles heel is the training that is required of the faculty to teach in an online environment, this is different. And the training is required, and we are throwing the maximum amount of resources we can against that training. But there are a large number of faculty that have never done this before that need to be trained pretty much overnight.

Jim VandeHei: (22:00)
And how confident are you that, now that you’ve watched some of these-

Jim VandeHei: (22:03)
And how confident are you that now that you’ve watched some of these schools wrestle with the new technology that they can move fast, given that it seems undoubtedly we’re going to live in a hybrid future?

Michael Hansen: (22:12)
Well, I think the answer is some will be able to move fast, and some will fall behind, and some will fall by the wayside. You mentioned this before. Some of these institutions have faced existential crisis before, financial crisis before, and this will certainly exacerbate this. The other thing that you will see is that the super selective institutions will loosen a little bit their criteria as who can get in, so they will fill their seats, but somebody at the bottom of the totem pole, so to speak, has got to pay the price, so they will see the vast majority of the enrollment declines hit them. So I think we will see this. Unfortunately, we will see that the economically most vulnerable students and most vulnerable parts of the population are going to suffer most, and that should really, really alarm us.

Jim VandeHei: (23:03)
Michael Hansen, thank you for this conversation. Thank you for making this program possible, and good luck helping people navigate their way back to school.

Michael Hansen: (23:13)
Thank you, Jim.

Jim VandeHei: (23:15)
Thank you.

Jim VandeHei: (23:19)
Welcome back. Thanks to Cengage again for making this program possible. I now have the pleasure of speaking with the Honorable Jahana Hayes, the Congresswoman from the fifth district of Connecticut. Welcome, Congresswoman.

Congresswoman Jahana Hayes: (23:34)
Hello. How are you? Thank you for having me.

Jim VandeHei: (23:37)
Thank you. For those that aren’t familiar with your district, tell us a little bit about it, the landmass that it covers, and a little bit about how it’s been hit by the virus in terms of illnesses, deaths, and how it’s responding.

Congresswoman Jahana Hayes: (23:49)
I cover Connecticut’s Fifth Congressional District, which is 41 towns, from central Connecticut to the New York border. My district borders right on where the original hotspot in New York was. This is a district of a combination of large urban areas and rural farming communities, and we have been disproportionately impacted. The pandemic started in Connecticut down in Fairfield County, but again, we border that county so it very quickly came right up into my county.

Congresswoman Jahana Hayes: (24:22)
One of the towns that I represent, Waterbury, was hardest hit, with the most number of hospitalizations and deaths as a result of COVID-19. Actually, my husband tested positive. He’s a police officer in the city, so this has really hit home for me.

Jim VandeHei: (24:42)
How is your husband’s health now? Is he fully recovered?

Congresswoman Jahana Hayes: (24:46)
Yes. My husband is fully recovered. Our family quarantined for 14 days. He actually went back to work today.

Jim VandeHei: (24:55)
You’re the most fascinating person to talk to about education at this moment. You were the 2016 Teacher of the Year for the entire country. I saw when Norah O’Donnell announced your name on the CBS Morning News a couple of years ago. You’re a first term Congresswoman. You sit on the committee that deals with education law. Like you mentioned earlier, your husband himself had suffered from the virus. When we think about education specifically, the topic that you have some power over with your seat in Congress, one of the big fears, especially when you look at higher education, is 20%, 25% of students don’t go back to school, some of these facilities that don’t have huge bankrolls behind them could fold. What is Congress doing very specifically in the next couple of months to prop up these universities and make sure that the universities that serve some of our more underprivileged students, they survive?

Congresswoman Jahana Hayes: (25:55)
Well, I think Congress directly addressed that in both pieces of legislation we just voted on, the CARES Act, and just last week, the HEROES Act, which would ingest $100 billion into direct education stabilization funding. We also are offering money to state and local municipalities. A lot of our public universities rely on grants and resources from the state, so Congress is working really hard to make sure that they have the resources that they need to survive. Also, from the student perspective, halting student loans and making sure that that burden is not an unnecessary burden as people are transitioning back. But I think we have to be very careful, because it’s not just higher education. I think when people talk about virtual and distance learning, it seems plausible for a college student, but we have kindergartners and first graders who are now expected to learn virtually.

Jim VandeHei: (26:53)
When you talk about the virtual learning, I know early on a lot of the coverage of the virus was, “The virus doesn’t discriminate. Anybody can get it. Anybody can die from it.” And that’s true, but it’s also true that it does actually discriminate, that a lot of communities with large populations of African Americans have been hit harder, both with illness and death. And on the other side, if you don’t have great technology, if you don’t have a super engaged local school that’s well-funded, it’s hard to do remote learning. It’s a lot easier when you’re at a private school with great technology and a small class size. What can we do specifically about that in the short term to get rid of some of that disparity?

Congresswoman Jahana Hayes: (27:36)
That’s a great question. I mean, my district, I represent some of the wealthiest school districts in the country, but also some of the poorest school districts in the country. In the school system where I taught just three years ago, it was just reported that 30% of those students have not been engaged at all, and we’ve been out of school for two months. 19,000 students, and 30% of them have not been reached, because they don’t have technology. They don’t have a connected device. I saw where some districts were online within three or four days, and other districts are still struggling to connect.

Congresswoman Jahana Hayes: (28:08)
So I hope that as we talk about this issue and the impact on education, that we don’t go back to where we were pre-pandemic, because these are some of the gross inequities that I’ve been talking about my entire time in Congress. In my first few months there, we passed a $100 billion infrastructure package. That would have shored up rural broadband and made sure our schools were connected and that kids had one-on-one devices. We have to make sure that we’re moving things like that along, because it is unconscionable now that based on their zip code, or where they live, or the community that they are a part of, we have probably … I mean, this district, my district, is representative of so many districts across the country, and I would say that there are about 30% of kids in these areas who are absent from school, have not been learning, and their academic progress is severely impacted.

Jim VandeHei: (29:04)
Putting aside for a second what actually could get done in the next couple of months, having been a teacher, and now knowing that this sort of virtual learning is definitely going to be a part of our lives this year, and might be a big part of our lives forever, what are the two or three things that government could do, should do, even if it couldn’t get done right now, that would make the biggest difference for the teachers who are at these schools trying to help these kids, maybe away from sort of the private schools, talking about the public schools?

Congresswoman Jahana Hayes: (29:32)
Well, that’s a great question. I’m happy to talk about that, because there are so many people chiming in now as to what is going to happen to the future of education, and what should happen. And I want to use my voice and my platform to speak up for all of the marginalized groups. Our special education population, I worry about them, because many of those students who rely on the wraparound support services that they get at school, they’re not getting any of those things. Longterm, Congress really has to invest in public education. We have to bring the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act up to the 40% that the federal government promised. We’ve never been there. You know, these are some structural things that should have been done. Our homeless student population, some of these block grants that go to our schools, we have to make sure that those are in place. Childcare services, for our early childhood education.

Congresswoman Jahana Hayes: (30:26)
These are things we have to make, Congress has to make an investment in public education. We cannot keep having these bandaid fixes, and we also have to support our teachers with professional development, with learning opportunities. We asked these teachers, 3.5 million teachers all over the country, within days, to shift to virtual learning. Many of them have never had any professional development. Many of them don’t even own an updated device of their own. So we asked them on their own to manage, and they did. We must support them on the other side of this to make sure that they are better prepared moving forward, and that they feel supported and not abandoned by their leaders and their legislators.

Jim VandeHei: (31:09)
My sister is a special education teacher in Wisconsin, where there’s been lots of cuts at the state level, lots of tension between teachers and the state government there. How, when you look at the federal budget, how much bigger should it be if you wanted to actually do all the things you just said? Do we need to double it, triple it, quadruple it? Again, putting aside what you could do with divided government right now, what should it be?

Congresswoman Jahana Hayes: (31:36)
First of all, I hope you can appreciate what your sister does, and with the little resources that she has, and I recognize that we cannot buy our way out of this pandemic. What I do believe, though, it is not the bottom line of the federal budget. I think you need to allocate money appropriately. Our investments need to align with our values. There are lots of things that we should be supporting all along, programs that we should be stabilizing. I hope that on the other side of this pandemic, we’re not just trying to make up for academic hours. Kids are going to be coming off of the most stressful time in their lives. They’re going to need mental health services, guidance support services. They’re going to need arts and humanities, and field trips, and all of those things to make school feel safe again.

Congresswoman Jahana Hayes: (32:24)
I’m asking for, the $100 billion I think is a good start. I think we need to … The CARES Act invested $10 billion in early childhood education. I think that should be $100 billion as well. We have to make an investment. We have not done that in a very long time, and now we have to stop thinking about where we can make cuts, and where we can support federal, and I mean, I’m sorry, local school districts.

Jim VandeHei: (32:50)
As we wrap up, you were a teacher good enough to be named the best one in the country, and you also have children. What’s a quick teaching hack that people who are watching can use at home? Like something that you’ve learned they could apply?

Jim VandeHei: (33:03)
… that people who are watching can use at home, like something that you’ve learned they could apply.

Rep. Hayes: (33:05)
Oh my goodness. Right now, my son, I have an 11-year old who is virtual learning, online learning. He can’t figure out the platform. He doesn’t know how to print things, read things out. I always found it helpful to make up songs or to say things outside. Sometimes just the process of repetition is very helpful. But I think if parents think that kids are going to sit down in front of a computer for six hours and be completely engaged, that’s not what education looks like.

Rep. Hayes: (33:33)
When I was in the classroom, I could look at a child and see if I was losing them, and I’d have to switch gears in the moment. You can’t do that online. People have different learning styles. Some people are audio learners, visual learners, tactile learners. There’s so many things. In a classroom, a teacher can adjust and see all those things.

Rep. Hayes: (33:53)
The CDC just came out with guidance today for reopening schools and they are so completely unrealistic. Anyone who’s ever been in a classroom knows that this list will not work.

Rep. Hayes: (34:04)
Education and teaching is about relationships. It is about making kids feel competent and helping them to kind of take a step out when they’re really not sure of what they’re doing. It’s allowing them to make mistakes, and that only happens when you have the support of a teacher alongside of them.

Jim VandeHei: (34:23)
Excellent. Representative Hayes, we appreciate your time. We appreciate all you did as a teacher. These hacks will be helpful to our viewers at home. Stay safe, stay healthy. I’m glad your husband is doing better.

Rep. Hayes: (34:36)
Thank you. Thank you.

Jim VandeHei: (34:36)
Thank you.

Jim VandeHei: (34:38)
We’ll wrap up with a quick conversation with Kim Hart who covers sort of everything for us, has been spending a lot of time thinking about education. It’s really striking, Kim, when you think about especially the higher-education piece of this, where you have Notre Dame, I guess Purdue, some other universities that are now saying, you know what, we’re going to change that first semester. It’s going to end at Thanksgiving. You wouldn’t come back until after that typical January break. You have others that will go their own way. But if there’s 20 to 25% fewer students, some of these big institutions aren’t going to make it.

Kim Hart: (35:13)
No, they’re not. It’s going to be a pretty big reckoning for higher education, especially some of the smaller institutions as Ted Mitchell was talking about earlier. I think there’s also going to be a realignment of the expectations for professors and instructors, especially when you look at some of these big research institutions where a lot of the emphasis is on research and getting grants for that research, not necessarily on teaching. But when you’re on a Zoom call with 300 students, it’s going to be a lot more apparent if the professor has checked out and kind of leaving it up to the teaching assistant or a grad student to do the bulk of the teaching. I think that the expectations for professors and instructors is going to change a lot. They’re going to have to step up in the actual instruction and realign those priorities for what it takes to be a tenure-track professor at some of these places.

Jim VandeHei: (36:10)
The burden really falls for most of the public institutions, obviously, at the state level. A lot of these states are, they’re really taking it hard in terms of the economic impact. They’re not going to have the type of money that you need to be able to fund schools from K through the end of college. There’s not going to be a massive bailout. Yes, you have some money going from the federal government to the states, but that has to spread and cover anything.

Jim VandeHei: (36:35)
It’ll be really interesting to see how these universities adapt. I do think that probably be some clever adaptations that work well for students, but I do think there’s a large number, even conversations I’m having with family members and friends of people who are going to say, at least for the next year, the hell with it. I don’t want to pay 30, 40, 50 grand to send my kid off to school when it might only be for a couple of months and it might feel like something very cursory as opposed to something very immersive.

Kim Hart: (37:01)
Yeah, I think that’s right. I think one of the striking takeaways for me from this conversation here today was just the high level of variability that you’re going to see across the country. Everyone’s college experience is going to be different. I think even at the K through 12 level, everyone’s experience is going to be different depending on the districts where you are and the state where you are and how much of a cushion they have budget-wise and how nimble the teachers and the technology staff are able to be. That’s stressful for a parent like you, who is sending your daughter off to college for the first time and also for a parent like me who has much smaller kids, but everyone is looking for some certainty and for some uniformity right now, and we’re not going to get that in the fall or before the foreseeable future.

Kim Hart: (37:44)
I think to your point about what people are going to get wet or what their expectations for what they’re going to get for their not cheap tuition bill going forward is it’s not just about the classroom. Kids don’t go to college just for the classes, just for the lectures, just for the textbooks. A lot of students need the wraparound services, as we heard the Congresswoman talk about. They need the mental health services that are provided. They need the meal plans at the food halls. They need places to live at the dormitories. If those things are not available, it really does change the value proposition and what students and their parents are willing to pay for.

Jim VandeHei: (38:25)
Yeah. It’ll be interesting when the studies come out about how effective some of this remote learning is. I’ll say my personal little laboratory here with two kids who go to a great school, have great technology, who’ve done everything you can do right, I don’t feel like it’s anywhere near as good. I feel like they’re probably chatting and playing games and doing other stuff when they should be studying. It’s not just about being around people. I do think there’s something about that engagement, that energy, that sort of forced focus that makes a big, big difference. I think that will be a big mystery to be solved to see what the end results are of remote learning and how you can change that.

Kim Hart: (39:02)
Yeah, absolutely. I think the one-on-one aspect of education has been lost a lot and being able to shift and pivot your learning and your teaching skills on a dime when you see whether a child is engaged or not and the fact that you really can’t do that on Zoom or WebEx or whatever platform that you have, or if someone’s just looking at a PowerPoint presentation, I think that has limited a lot of students and made them just not interested in continuing to really focus on the studies, even though they’re kind of going through the motions.

Jim VandeHei: (39:35)
As we sort of come to an end here, what are you learning? You’ve been both balancing your job, obviously working with your kids at home. I asked the Congresswoman this, any hacks that you’ve figured out that have made it any easier or that have been successful that are worth sharing?

Kim Hart: (39:51)
Well, actually I asked my mother this question, who’s been a teacher in elementary schools for 40 years and is about to retire this year, actually. Her suggestion, especially for really little kids, my kids are four and six, is to not try to make it a continuous lesson and not just kind of roll through it the way you would with maybe an 11-year old or a 13-year old, but you have to kind of trick them into learning and kind of make it more of a game. So learning sight words, doing kind of a bingo game or doing a hide-and-seek where they can find the words hidden around on flashcards around the house and come back and make it kind of the competition between my two kids. I’ve had to get creative with, even if I spend fewer minutes and fewer hours on the actual lesson, I’ve been focusing more on making sure that they’re actually engaging, even if they don’t really realize that they’re learning anything. It’s more of a game.

Jim VandeHei: (40:46)
Great. We basically have to take something that’s really hard to do and make it harder? We got to become more creative with a little bit of time we have? It’s a good [crosstalk 00:40:52]

Kim Hart: (40:52)
[crosstalk 00:07:54].

Kim Hart: (40:58)
Yes, unfortunately with little kids you have to get way more creative than we ever thought we could. It makes us all respect our kindergarten and first grade teachers a lot more.

Jim VandeHei: (41:09)
Awesome. Well, it’s always good to chat with you.

Kim Hart: (41:11)
You too. Thank you, Jim. Thank you to everyone for joining the conversation today. Hopefully it has made everyone smarter faster. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Kim Hart: (41:22)
Next week we have two events coming up. One on the small business survival guide, which is on May 27th. Also, on the 28th, nursing homes on the frontlines. Join us again next week. You’ll be able to sign up on our website. Don’t forget to check axios.com for the latest news. Thank you to Cengage again for making this conversation possible. Have a great Thursday.