It’s been several months since the schools have been kept shut to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This crisis had forced schools to make a sudden shift to practice remote learning which no one saw coming, at least for a couple of years from now. However, during this crisis, we have seen an incredible amount of large-scale efforts to use technology in support of remote learning. At the same time, the crisis has exposed the challenges for technology in education, including many inequities starting at the lack of access to computers, the internet and lack of tech skills, in both, teachers and students.
In this article, we focus on how teachers lack tech skills and what challenges does it bring for institutions.
Quite a few surveys have been conducted to keep a check on challenges faced by institutions, their teachers and students. Amongst them, a survey of international schools reveals that although almost all schools had a learning platform in place, but adapting to digital learning was a struggle for teachers.
According to the TES survey around 40 per cent chose "Lack of teacher skills to adapt teaching to distance learning" as a challenge they experienced, which was a major concern for all those schools.
Next challenge, for 30% of them were internet restrictions and teachers’ lack of tech skills.
While some respondents indicated that a problem was posed by new expectations from teachers with no time to prepare.
Several schools found socially distant assessment troublesome due to lack of time: teachers didn’t have sufficient time to both support students with their distance learning and also review and assess the learning evidence that was submitted.
Positively, only 10 per cent of respondents said they hadn’t experienced any problem with online assessment. In between all, 82 per cent said that support from colleagues had been “extremely beneficial” for teachers and over 40 per cent said the same of parent support.
Overall, international schools are to some extent optimistic and feel positive about how they have handled teaching and learning during the COVID closure.
Besides these, educators fear the risk of being overwhelmed and unsupported to do their jobs well.
Of course! Neither teachers nor students had a little clue about their schools closing and shifting to online learning—this can be challenging for anybody. Many teachers have shared that they are overwhelmed with all sorts of materials and products, and are seeing themselves getting pushed back and request help filtering through all the resources to find those that are quality.
For elementary school teachers, personal interaction is key for students to learn effectively and feel comfortable in the classroom but COVID has brought a change in this too. Teachers have turned their homes into classrooms, using materials like chart paper and whiteboards to communicate their lessons over the internet. Many schools have also supported their staff by providing computer programs. But, somehow the in person need of the classrooms is not being met which is a big hurdle in providing a good learning experience to elementary school learners.
Another hindrance is the digital divide due to the non-availability of high-speed internet in rural and remote areas. The inclusive educational system cannot function keeping the underprivileged out of these exercises. The second issue is the financial backwardness of parents and also a mindset of not adopting new technologies. Hence, making it difficult for teachers to teach those who do not have access to smart devices or internet connectivity. They either have to prepare a video of the lessons to share later or connect with them over calls, several times.
In fact, in an interview, Kindergarten teacher Melissa Meza, who teaches her class in Spanish, says that in addition to the Zoom video calls she does with her entire class, she also spends up to 20 minutes in one-on-one video calls with each student. For her class of 25 students, Meza now teaches the daily lessons 25 times.
Among all challenges- the lack of adequate, ongoing professional development for teachers who are required to integrate new technologies into their classrooms, are yet unprepared or unable to understand new technologies.
While, schools mandate the use of a specific technology, teachers are left without the tools (and often skills) to effectively integrate the new capabilities into their teaching methods.
Another challenge, delivering informal learning. Educators are having trouble in delivering lecture-and-test models of learning as well as failing to challenge students to experiment and engage in informal learning. But, introducing flipped classrooms and blended learning approach brings a sigh of relief to them.
Last but not the least, there's a gap between the vision of delivering personalized, differentiated instruction and the technologies available to make this possible. So while K-12 teachers seem to see the need for personalized learning, they aren't being given the tools they need to accomplish it, or adequate tools simply don't exist.
Undoubtedly, every teacher and school administration are trying their best, and this is all new, but there's just been a lot of let-down .This online teaching, as of now, can be a great substitute but a lot of improvement in teaching facilities and accessibility to adequate tools and resources need to made.
What difficulties do you come across while teaching remotely? What solutions do you have? Do let us know in the comments.