Distance Education and COVID-19: Literature Review
HV: So, my name is Hars, I am a grade 8 teacher in Abbotsford, British Columbia.
RJ: I’m Rhiannon Joker, I am a second-year master’s student studying medical anthropology.
JH: I started exploring what’s happening nationwide now with covid19 and how is it affecting teachers and how is it affecting student engagement?
RJ: Students who were the most negatively impacted by the rapid shift to distance learning were students already at-risk students, already likely to fall behind their peers. So that’s students with a low socio-economic status, students with disabilities, Black and Hispanic students, and English Language Learners.
HV: At these schools that were struggling with poverty, only about 30% of teachers reported that their kids had, or that their whole class had access to internet and technology at home. Whereas in more affluent schools it was upwards of 83%.
The RAND organization completed a survey in spring 2021 where they asked parents how comfortable they were sending their kids back to school and what their preference was for in-person versus remote learning, and they found a couple things. One was that Black and Hispanic parents were less likely to send their kids to in person learning so they gave a preference for a remote learning opportunity. And the second was the desire for remote learning was changing really rapidly.
One of the biggest themes that I saw was teacher stress and retention concerns. One in four teachers that are leaving the profession early are planning on taking positions that are of equal pay or even lesser pay. So they’re willing to take a pay cut to transition to a new career where they’re dealing with less stressors.
RJ: So now, the Omicron Era has offered us a new thing to think about as we talk about distance education, which is: we absolutely live in a digital age, and there’s nothing we can do to go back from that. So, how do we use our e-learning tools at home and in the classroom to be sure students stay interested and on track, even when their teachers aren’t available?