Online or Virtual Teaching Changes the Schooling Environment
Imagine you are a glass worker in a factory for twenty years and suddenly, glass is no longer in demand. A new product clear plastic is being made and replacing glass. Suddenly you are out of a job or asked to learn how to work with plastic.
This is the problem for teachers in 2020. They have been teaching in a classroom from Kindergarten to 12th grade for years and suddenly they are told they are out of date. A pandemic has struck and students cannot go to school without the fear of catching the virus. So, Schools shut their doors and teachers are furloughed. School boards soon realize that they are unprepared for this pandemic. They still have to pay the teachers their salaries but cannot hold classes, so they fire all the teachers for the Fall of 2020 school season to cover their expenses and possible liabilities.
Now if you were a teacher what would you do? Learn how to teach online or wait it out to see what your school district is going to do. In San Diego they are using the modified approach by having three days a week of in person instruction and two days of online instruction. The downtown San Diego school district has decided to go five days a week of online instruction. Who is going to teach these classes, third party corporation with canned courses or trained current teachers. The San Diego public school district is truly unprepared to hire instructional technologists to train current teachers how to create an online syllabus, Rubics, lesson plans and special technology tools designed for online instruction only. On the college level where they have more money than public schools they can use Canvas or Blackboard which is leased on an annual basis depending on the amount of students attending the University or College. Blackboard is an online platform that helps facilitate online instruction by allowing Professors to upload the course outline of syllabus to store online. A lockbox is provide for students to submit assignments. Automatic grading for quizzes and tests of multiple choice or fill in is available. An online grade book is available for students.
Videos can be stored online or streamed to students through blackboard. Canvas is similar. Public Schools cannot afford this online platform and therefore must either buy canned course or make a commitment to train their current staff. Administrators are also untrained and unable to provide any technical support or guidance for online instruction. They too need training and plenty of it to be useful. Even the Superintendent of Schools for Sweetwater School district has no clue. Recently on television he told the reporters what Sweetwater was doing during the pandemic. Too little , too late is Sweetwarer’s Philosophy. The Acting Superintendent has no knowledge of online instruction and is the wrong person to be calling the shots.
In prep schools and religious schools in San Diego County they are at least trying to hire instructional technologists to help their teachers develop online courses on the fly. Once the private schools get beyond the first year of online instruction they will save money in reduced teacher salaries unfortunately, and pour their savings into retraining of their administrative and faculty resources.
You may not like Technology, but it is here to stay. The pandemic only made the future present and showed how behind the times schools are when it comes to technology. Technology can also be a have and have not discrimination situation with the poor students not having a computer or iPad to use and the rich students having not only computers but fast internet to use also. Unless school begin loaning iPads to students especially of low income families, online education could be doomed to failure. The money school save from having less teachers and virtual recorded classes instead could be put into purchasing iPads for students which could be returned at the end of the year for servicing.
The big issue is will online or virtual education prepare our students of today for the workforce of tomorrow? Well humanities are going to take a hit or sure. Medical professions will increase as well as technicians and instructional technologists to train teachers how to teach online. Lastly, Colleges have to catch up and provide student teacher training classes for online courses and the special techniques used online that differ from the normal classroom situation.
One more thing regarding social distancing. Classrooms are too small to make changes. Usually 32 is the amount of tables in a classroom. That is too many for virus protection. The number needs to be cut in half and the number of short 20 minute periods in a day increased. This will allow 16 students to sit six feet or more apart.