When discussing remote learning experiences, I would say that my context is somewhat different from most. My role as a vice principal/LRT in a community school where most families do not have access to technology or the internet made for interesting planning during remote learning. We were able to provide Chromebooks to students in Grades 4-8 and iPads for students in Grades K-3 for those who had access to Wi-Fi. Our division (RPSD) mandated Google Classroom for the senior students and Seesaw for the primary students. Lessons were created digitally and printed for those that did not have access. In the second presentation for EC&I 833, Josie outlined the pedological disadvantages that present when utilizing online tools. During the time of remote learning, the digital divide was loud and clear. While other schools were posting all their successes and celebrations with remote learning, we were struggling to merely connect those that we could.
As an LRT, I had daily scheduled meetings with small groups of students. Tools that were used included Google Meet and a basic HUE document camera which is portable and easy to use. My students were comfortable using Google Classroom as an online platform as it was used throughout the school year during in-class learning various assignments. The real difficulty came when I tried to implement a Kahoot! to change things up. Without thinking, I incorporated a Kahoot! into one of my online meets, something that we had done in class several times with school provided technology. At home, very few students had access to a device other than the one provided by the school, which meant in order to play the Kahoot!, they needed to open up another tab and click back and forth; a skill they did not possess.
There was greater success with the Seesaw app as teachers had families sign up in early fall. The transition to using Seesaw for remote learning was not as frustrating for parents compared to those who had no experience or access to Google Classroom. Seesaw is accessible on all devices and in our community, mobile phones were often used. Families were able to reach out to teachers and teachers could directly message families. The majority of our primary students were connected this way and it allowed for sharing of materials and quick communication between home and school.
The most relevant tool that I utilized for students with access was Google Classroom. Teachers and administrators were able to check-in with students regarding basic needs, provide live and asynchronous lessons throughout the day, and provide feedback to students on their learning. When we were unable to meet face-to-face as a staff due to COVID restrictions we used Zoom. Zoom allowed for better quality video sharing compared to other platforms.
“As educators and learners who variously seek to engage in anti-oppressive online learning environments, we have all struggled with a lack of guidance, support, and resources” (Migueliz et. al, 2020, p. 348). Moving to remote learning provided learning opportunities for me, as well as opportunities for me to assist colleagues. While many staff members were confident in their ability to move to remote learning, many were not. Working collaboratively to understand how to post content to the classroom, share among classes and create breakout rooms were some of the learnings that took place. While student collaboration (due to lack of access) may have decreased, staff collaboration seemed to flourish.
Without out a doubt I prefer face-to-face teaching over remote learning purely for the authentic connections and relationships. Caruth & Caruth (2013) share that one of the problems with online learning includes a lack of a quality education in comparison to the education provided onsite. This goes hand in hand with the digital divide that so many of our students experience. What are your thoughts? We were polled as to how we prefer to learn as adults, but how do you prefer to teach and why?