Educator Challenges and Solutions During COVID-19
“Remote learning?” says Juliet, my former colleague who teaches seventh grade math. “It sucks!” While there are a wide-range of factors contributing to general educator frustration during the pandemic, these common challenges can be categorized into four distinct buckets:
Inequality of Internet Access
Roughly 14 percent of households with school-age children lack internet access, according to recent federal data. When mobile hotspots are not provided by the district, educators revert to contacting students by phone and mailing home handouts. A recent 2020 study by Education Research Center sampled 2,600 teachers to demonstrate the correlation between low-income students and a lack of technology access. Predictably, the administrators at schools with at least 50% low-income students reported lack of technology access as a major challenge to teaching (58-64%).
Remote Learning Inexperience
“There’s a reason districts and schools take one to two years planning time, “ Susan Patrick, CEO of the Aurora institute (a nonprofit dedicated to driving the transformation of education systems) said in a recent article in Education week. “You can’t go from zero to 60 in 24 hours if you don’t have the processes and structures in place.” Without a plan established before the pandemic, most educators are condensing what should be a year of planning and learning into mere weeks.
Federal law mandates that students with disabilities must have an equal opportunity to participate in everything that schools provide, including remote learning. For educators creating online curriculum this means learning guidelines for accessible materials that can require some technical savvy. For example, preparing online materials to be read by a screenreader means considering structured headers, adding descriptions for images, setting equations properly, checking color palettes for contrast, and adding closed-captions to videos: all of which many educators had not done before social distancing began.
Stress on Cognitive Load
Educators are all-too familiar with stress in the workplace, but now that stress has come home with them. Both students and educators are often working in shared bedrooms and living rooms with frequent interruptions. Working while parenting can create conflicting priorities of tending to one’s family while answering constant calls and emails. This combination has led to many teachers working 24/7 for the foreseeable future, combined with the general stress of living through an unprecedented international pandemic.
As a response to the many challenges educators are having with the transition to remote learning, Intel commissioned the Educator’s Guide to Elearning. This free resource is a great tool for helping educators to succeed at elearning and online instruction. The guidebook will help educators to:
- Set up virtual environments
- Adapt lessons for elearning
- Get the right tools and technologies for both teachers and students
In Part Two of this series, we will explore the many practical solutions for helping educators to make the most of their remote learning practice.