Problems and Questions for Virtual Learning

Many things can be said about this year, 2020, and how problems in various sectors have either come to a point or been given a bigger platform. The world of Ed-Tech is no different. For the past decade or so, I have seen school districts struggle to appropriate technology into classrooms across our nation and have personally wrestled with the pitfalls and resentment that teachers experience when it is poorly done. So with technology taking center-stage in schools this year due to online learning, perhaps now districts will work out some of the kinks and find ways to successfully and sustainably utilize technology. However, there may be a few problems that persist:

  1. Which is better, paper or digital copies, and are these two modes of delivery even comparable? 
    1. Online learning requires a different skill set than utilizing paper. Forcing all students to work online-only could be a problem, especially for learners with specific disabilities that make it difficult to analyze and annotate information in digital form.
  2. What is the right balance between providing enough resources and enough training for teachers?
    1. Some districts do not provide enough digital resources to teachers. Others provide so many resources and training opportunities that teachers can become overwhelmed and underutilize the resources available to them.
  3. How necessary are physical student-teacher interactions to the learning process, and can this be synthesized through synchronous digital lessons?
    1. Although there are many different factors that have caused gaps in students’ education this year, the students who are back face-to-face during Covid-19 seem to be faring better than the online-only students. But even among the students who are online only, some students are thriving while others struggle. How much of this is due to students’ physical access to their teacher? I hope to someday find out.

Image Credit

Park, Thomas. (2020). Kindergarten boy looking at laptop computer during first day of virtual learning online school [photograph]. Unsplash.

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