As School Moves Online, Many Students Stay Logged Out is the headline of an article in today’s NY Times, and it paints a challenging picture that any of us who are making the transition to online teaching already know.
Lack of devices and home Internet access, our students having to care for younger siblings, economic stress at home, health issues and many other factors (see The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher (& Outside Factors) Have On Student Achievement), including – let’s be honest – in some cases a lack of strong teacher/student relationships, are all contributing to us not getting 100% student participation in our online teaching. It’s probably also safe to say at least a few districts and teachers having unrealistic expectations of students and their parents during this time isn’t helping the situation, either.
It seems to me that the best way to approach this crisis might be to:
- avoid top-down dictates and, instead, have districts support teacher initiatives
- have districts put a lot of effort into studying and analyzing what teachers are doing and what seems to be working and not working
- get devices into the hands of all students, as well as getting them Internet access at home
Many epidemiologists are predicting potential “waves” of infection. Let’s all use this time to try our best and prepare ourselves to really get it right if we have to do this all over again in the fall.
I teach in alt-ed and my first assignment, a journal, saw responses from half my students.
You’ve stated the problem succinctly, Mr. Ferlazzo, thank you. In conversations with peers, I want to share the notion that in addition to getting devices into their hands, setting up connectivity, and reducing the workload for students, we may still may need to scaffold up to synchronous learning (Zoom, Google hangouts, etc).
Basically, we need an asynchronous tool that is safe, engaging, and low bandwidth. TikTok, Twitter, whatever, something that allows students another level to connect, a low-stakes check-in, just like the ones we use in class to draw in quiet students. A virtual “fist of five” or thumbs up/thumbs down.
Any ideas are welcome, and if you’d like to meet over zoom to talk let me know, teachers at our small school in Napa are open to anything!