In February and March 2020, schools around the country began grappling with the idea that the COVID-19 pandemic may be too dangerous to have kids finish out the school year in class and that they’d have to move to a strictly online learning environment. For some schools, the transition was easier for them than for others, but every school has changed since having to implement (or continue using) some form of remote learning.
How has remote learning changed schools?
“Back to School” used with permission via Unsplash by comparefibre
Another change that came about involved teachers’ communication. Teachers had to rely on email, instant messaging, and video calls to collaborate with other teachers, teacher aides, and school administration. They were also limited in the ways they could conduct lessons, proctor tests, give one-on-one attention to students, and otherwise make the classroom environment distraction-free and fun. However, some parent/caregiver-teacher communication may have become more frequent as some parents and caregivers may have reached out to teachers more often about classroom issues they may not have otherwise noticed.
Remote learning also impacted the student-teacher relationship, both positively and negatively. Some of the negative changes included not being able to have individualized attention for students who needed extra help, not being able to establish personal bonds with students during classroom activities, and not being able to maintain student engagement during lessons.
As many schools create hybrid learning programs and fully remote learning programs, more and more creative ideas emerge for how to engage students in class and show them that their teachers and school administration care about their well-being.
Pros and cons of remote learning for children and parents
One benefit of remote learning is that students may have more flexibility for completing schoolwork. They can choose to complete work during or after school hours, as long as they meet deadlines. This can allow students to take breaks and reduce overwhelm from hours-on-end of learning.
Another benefit is that negative social interactions, like bullying, can become more infrequent. Students spend less time in class or at school together, and online forums and video chat classes are likely closely monitored to spot and stop cyberbullying. Lastly, shy students may have more outlets to participate in class without having to speak in front of others, such as writing in the forum, participating in a virtual quiz game, and more.
However, issues with equal access to quality education could increase the gap between students of different backgrounds. For example, students in economically disadvantaged communities or households may already attend schools that lack the resources to provide classroom necessities, let alone to pay for online learning technology for students and/or teachers. A move to solely remote learning or a hybrid system could put these students at more of a disadvantage because they may be less likely to have regular access to the tools they need, reducing engagement and amount of instruction.
Another gap that could increase is that between students with and without disabilities. Students with disabilities may need more attention and specialized classroom environments in order to succeed. But in a remote learning environment, that may be incredibly difficult to achieve, which can negatively impact how well these students do in school and develop alongside their peers.
In addition, parents and caregivers need to be more hands-on with their students’ learning, but many may not be able to. Some students may be too young to get into online class on their own, requiring parental assistance and supervision. Plus, many parents and caregivers work and cannot be home to assist with their students’ online learning. And since teachers may not be able to help whenever a child needs it, parents may need to step in, which can also impact how much help students get to properly learn concepts and how well they do in challenging courses.
In remote learning environments, students don’t get to interact in person, which can change the way kids develop key social skills, like collaboration, conversation, and emotional intelligence. While not inherently a bad thing, it could impact kids who have social anxiety or behavioral issues. However, it can be a hands-on learning experience for children to learn how to communicate via technology, such as through writing, instant messaging, and online cooperation. Technology literacy skills are incredibly important, and a remote learning environment allows kids to practice those skills in a safe space.
Will remote learning continue in schools?
Many schools around the country are actively choosing and training on remote learning technology as well as creating guidelines for hybrid environments. And while the continuing pandemic has been the main motivating factor for creating these programs, many schools are seeing the benefits of offering more ways for students to learn and accommodate different learning styles and lifestyles. However, there are many school districts that have completely withdrawn from any form of remote learning due to any number of factors, from inconvenience to lack of funding to preferences for in-person learning.
To prepare for more remote learning in American schools, formal education will need to prepare future teachers for remote learning. Less than 5% of current teacher preparation programs in the U.S. provide training in online learning environments and technology.
In addition, school funding will need to account for tools and technology for students and teachers. Students will need to have the proper technology and regular access to the internet, so school budgets for both public and private institutions are already accounting for these expenses and trying to provide even the most disadvantaged students in the U.S. with access to the internet and necessary technology. However, some districts just cannot afford to provide computers, internet access, or quality online learning tools to students or teachers.
Here at Crème de la Crème, we are working hard to keep your young students safe while they learn, socialize, and grow in our schools. Contact us to learn more about our policies and how we can help prepare your children for any school environment.