It's Not Online Ed; Call it 'Crisis Teaching'
- By Dian Schaffhauser
refer to the instruction delivered in the spring as "online
education." Better to call it "crisis teaching."
Nearly the entire American education system had to move online with
"little to no preparation." Nobody was fully prepared, not
the educators, the parents or the students. That was the description
given to what happened when schools closed their doors and turned on
their Zoom accounts, according to Future
a "public charity" focused on giving students access to
a recent survey undertaken by Future of School, while a big majority
of educators (more than eight in 10) reported that they were
satisfied overall with their professional accomplishments before
schools had to close facilities, only slightly more than half
(between 54 percent and 55 percent) said the same about their
performance during the crisis period. And while most "wish"
they could be back in the classroom with direct contact with
students, they also have a "greater appreciation" for how
technology could help them in their work.
results came out of a national online survey of 1,000 K-12 teachers
in June. The sampling covered the gamut, all grade bands, school
locations and types of schools. The survey was intended to understand
the training and experience the respondents had with technology,
online teaching and online learning, as well as the challenges they
faced, the surprises they experienced and their attitudes about
teaching during school closures. Future
worked with Geddes
on the survey.
biggest challenges reported by respondents when schools closed in
March was a diminishing of student engagement and motivation,
performance and attendance and follow-through, reported by 30
percent. As one middle school teacher told interviewers: "I feel
like I had to significantly decrease the rigor of my assignments. If
something was perceived as too demanding, I would get little to no
response. I feel like I created a lot of fluff (assignments that were
very easy and took very little time to complete) just in order to get
any kind of a response from my students. I was also shocked by the
number of students who would turn in nothing -- click submit, with
nothing attached (no doc, no text, literally nothing) in Google
Classroom just to make it disappear on their end, completely out of
parent view." A high school teacher reported that students
weren't engaged: "They have special needs and need face-to-face
instruction. Their parents aren't qualified or able to provide it.
Most are just home."
the positive side, 17 percent of teachers said they "got better
at using technology." Fourteen percent saw how students put in
the effort and appeared "eager to participate" and help
other students. Plus, as one elementary respondent explained,
"parents and students have learned the value teachers have in
education in the community."
reported that 40 percent of students didn't have computing devices at
home when the crisis hit, and 50 percent had no internet access.
However, at the same time, there's apparently no going back on the
use of tech in instruction. Nearly eight in 10 (79 percent) teachers
said they'd like to get more professional development for
technology-related subjects, because they feel ill prepared to teach
their students "higher-level tech skills."
the researchers noted, even though educators "were feeling a bit
defeated during the crisis period, most stepped up and did their best
to meet the technology needs, without proper preparation, training or
to Future to School, the emergency wrought by COVID-19 offers a
"unique opportunity to permanently transform how K-12 education
happens," including the integration of digital learning into
of School held a webinar to share the results of the survey. That's
openly available on-demand, along with the slide deck on
the Future of School website.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.