Week Two, Post Two: Tools for Distance and Online Education

“That’s kind of been the gift of COVID-19- it has made it impossible to ignore the societal inequities that have been becoming deeper and broader over the past couple of generations.”

Nicole McCormick, Teacher

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.

Source

“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?

3 thoughts on “Week Two, Post Two: Tools for Distance and Online Education

  1. Relationship building in an online environment can be hard. As Katia shared with us during presentation two, the lack of face to face time students had with one another in their first year of study made it hard to make friends.
    Two resources came to mind. One I came across during our research with productivity tools: https://www.techlearning.com/tl-advisor-blog/10380
    And the other a meme that my best friend (and now co-worker) tagged me on Facebook in: You have a 90% chance of becoming best friends with whom you sit with in class on the very first day of school/college.
    How sad that first year student’s weren’t able to make that connection.

    Like

  2. I appreciated how you discussed the importance of relationship building, and how students missed out of the opportunities to do so. Although there was some ‘face-to-face’ interaction via technology, it wasn’t the same as the good old-fashioned face-to-face. I too think that it is unfortunate that students did not have a chance to get to meet potential life-long friends, and especially since the first-year transition is hard enough let alone doing it alone. I wonder in the fall if the second-year students will feel the same way as the new students entering, and if they will be able to form quick connections on campus again. Hopefully with a little more ‘normalcy’ students will be able to feel a better sense of belonging and build life-long friendships.

    Like

  3. Janelle, thanks for the interesting post! I can relate to your success with google classroom as I had a similar experience with Microsoft Teams. It was successful because it created a one-stop-shop for students and parents to find all the resources needed for the lessons each day. The digital divide is the barrier that many educators face whether it be a lack of technology, internet connection, or lack of understanding of how to effectively use the tools provided like you mentioned with your Kahoot. Many of my students who struggled with digital tools, wasted time with computer issues, which took away from the time they could have used to focus on the assignment. It is for these reasons that many of us prefer face-to-face learning! Personally, I enjoy learning online but teaching face to face. As a teacher, I love the energy provided by my students in the classroom, and the social interactions that I get to have with each of them every day. Relationships are the key to teaching, and this is so much easier to build in person as opposed to trying to gauge feeling through emojis! What was your biggest challenge in meeting your students’ goals as an LRT teacher? Did you carry any tools over from remote learning to your face-to-face teaching?

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s