Teacher survey finds 6 key tech considerations for schools’ return

COVID-19 turned schooling virtual. What role will technology play in education once the pandemic ends?
By: | August 14, 2020
Photo by Christin Hume via Unsplash.

Kim R. Michel is the Director of Online Learning for the Commonwealth Learning Online Institute.

The original roaring twenties was a decade of growth. As we rang in the New Year hopes were high, but 2020 quickly proved to be anything but. On January 21 the first case of COVID-19 in the US was confirmed, and from there rapid and widespread changes took the country by storm. Schools closed, and remote learning became the norm. In many districts, decisions regarding reopening are still up in the air.

As an administrator or educator, you may feel uneasy about what September will look like. It won’t look like last September, that’s for sure. Under duress, juggling personal obligations and anxieties, thousands of teachers have managed to provide remote learning opportunities to students; something that without the catalyst of COVID-19 likely would have taken years to attempt due to legislation, red tape, and funding challenges.

So, what does this mean for the future of education? Since its inception, the Commonwealth Learning Online Institute has specialized exclusively in remote learning, and it is our position that administrators and educators will take what they learned during this process and analyze what was most effective, ultimately returning to classrooms with a hybrid structure that provides the best components of virtual and traditional instruction.

We recently conducted a survey of 67 pre-K to 10th-grade teachers and paraprofessionals regarding the experience of remote learning for educators across the country, which offered some interesting information and results, as follows:

Question 1: What learning and/or supports are you providing to students?

  • 100% of the teachers who responded are reaching out to their students
  • 80% are providing enrichment resources
  • 76% are hosting office hours for questions and support
  • 65% are providing direct instruction
  • 56% are using learning management systems that house assignments, curriculum, and other resources
  • 20% are using prerecorded lessons

UPDATED: Hundreds of free K-12 resources during the pandemic

Question 2: On a scale from 1 (Not at all/N/A) to 5 (Above Average/High), rank the following:

Teacher comfort level with remote instructing: 3.5

  • Student comfort level with learning online: 2.8
  • Student learning level during online instruction: 2.8
  • Management level of working from home: 3.4
  • Likelihood of continuing to use technology when you return to school: 1

Question 3: What technology tools and methods will you continue to use when you return to the classroom?

  • Prerecorded text and stories: 88%
  • Online games and activities: 80%
  • Learning Management System: 75%
  • Video chats: 60%
  • Prerecorded lessons and presentations: 40%

These results indicate that while the level of comfort with teaching remotely has been neutral at best, educators are focusing on the benefits of virtual learning despite the challenges. When asked, “what will be your level of technology usage when you return to the classroom?” more than 60% stated they would utilize it more than before the COVID-19 crisis, 36% said their usage would be unchanged, and only 4% expected their use of technology to decrease.

Read: CDC updates its guidance on face masks in schools

Administrators must now begin to make decisions regarding how to move forward into the next school year. Here is some key information learned during the pandemic to keep in mind during this process:

  1. Using a Learning Management System is an effective way to house and ensure students and teachers have access to all necessary education resources. Some such systems to consider include Moodle, Schoology, and Google Classroom. When mulling over options, it is important to be cognizant of the infrastructure required to manage your school system’s needs.
  2. It is in a district’s best interest to create approved libraries of internet-based resources, including URLs, apps, websites, and learning tools for each grade level.
  3. Districts should continually assess device accessibility and needs to accommodate their ever-changing student population.
  4. In the interest of establishing a comprehensive resource library, it is recommended that administrators create teacher teams and have them record videos and design presentations to be made available for all district educators.
  5. Teachers should be provided with professional development training in the best practices for remote instruction, as the required skill sets are different from those utilized in face-to-face schooling.
  6. As new technological tools are introduced, it is essential to provide opportunities for parents and students to learn how to navigate these resources for remote learning.

Research indicates that video chats, prerecorded presentations, videos, and online learning activities are likely to be utilized in classrooms across the country come September.

Kim R. Michel MS/SpEd, is the Director of Online Learning for the Commonwealth Learning Online Institute. kmichel@commlearn.com

Interested in edtech? Keep up with DA's Future of Education Technology Conference®.