On Challenges and Opportunities: Emergency Remote Teaching
Emergency Remote Teaching addresses the problem of how education can be provided in the event schools have to shut down such as natural disasters or in today’s case, a global pandemic. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the challenges that accompany remote teaching and also at the opportunities for creativity and flexibility that can be brought about by this phenomenon.
Availability of connectivity for all students
While some consider internet usage to be a common household staple, there are still many rural communities that don’t have access to the high-speed connectivity necessary for streaming. Moreover, there are still many families that can’t afford basic internet connection much less the 5G upgrade.
Fortunately, school districts are partnering with local internet service providers to ensure that households that didn’t have a connection before can gain that access during the course of online or hybrid learning. Also, some of the providers are helping to set up hot spots in rural towns where signal strength has posed an obstacle.
In addition to access to the internet and to devices, teachers concern themselves with the challenge of student engagement in the online environment. If attendance and participation were issues prior to the pandemic, how much more of a worry would they cause now?
While teachers can’t control all circumstances, they are still seizing this opportunity to experiment with apps and websites that perhaps might not have been an option before. They’re discovering many free resources—from educational online games to assistive technology—all of which can be employed to gain and hold a child’s interest and encourage participation.
As mentioned, educators cannot solve all problems, one of which includes parental involvement. A “Catch-22” situation exists for many families where the parents absolutely have to work outside of the home during school hours when online learning is taking place. As a result, students are not supervised while working online, and there’s no one available to help when troubleshooting becomes necessary. Also, in some cases, high school aged students are having to babysit younger siblings instead of completing their studies and participating in class meetings.
At this point, many agencies and organizations, such as CASA, the Boys’ and Girls’ Club, and civic groups need to partner with school districts to seek out families in need and safely provide the childcare and tutoring that students require.
Teachers in Need of Childcare
While school districts are reaching out to the rest of the community for assistance with these issues, they are also trying to ensure their teachers have access to childcare. For instance, the Boys and Girls Club in some towns are providing study space, internet access, and tutoring for students while adhering to health guidelines. This gives teachers a safe option for their own children while they work.
Nonetheless, in spite of the pandemic, opportunities to give and receive help crop up when least expected. For instance, Pedagogue, an online social network for educators possesses features that enable fast communication with students and their families, flexibility and resources for planning lessons and projects and a community of fellow educators who can provide insight and ideas for meeting the challenges of emergency remote teaching.
In addition to the technology that’s available, school districts can also reach out to local or state agencies and organizations. In one such case, youthConnect, an organization that partners with other nonprofits, started weekly check-ins immediately after the shut-down in March and has provided their services for students remotely. Furthermore, other nonprofits and corporations have greatly pivoted to help provide electronic devices, food, and internet connectivity.
Therefore, while remote teaching entails some difficult issues, it still presents a chance for innovation, creativity, and an opportunity to broaden communication between home and school. Also, educators can contact local organizations to help with this endeavor; plus, students would gain experience to acquire the skills and self-discipline to succeed in the virtual workplace.