As students living through a global pandemic, we have a tendency to make it all about us. It’s undoubtedly difficult to adjust to learning almost entirely through a screen. We now have to navigate our education in a way that is completely unprecedented. It’s harder to communicate with teachers and other students, engage in class, and retain information. Blinded by our struggles, we may focus on ourselves. But what is it like on the other side of the zoom call?
How has online learning altered teaching? To get a closer look at what quarantine has been like for educators, I asked 7 teachers specializing in a range of subjects to submit written responses to prompts about their experiences.
First off, grading has been a hot topic of the online semester. Students and parents have noticed a difference in how long it takes for assignments to be graded, while teachers have expressed being overwhelmed with work to review.
The cause? The survey revealed that the amount of time it takes to load student work is a big contributor to issues with grading. Normally, teachers can quickly look over hard copy work that is turned in in class and determine a mark. Now, due to technical issues, online work can take quite a while to display on a screen, which really adds up when you have hundreds of students. Additionally, participation points and other similar scores are harder to grade now that teachers can not directly interact with students.
Many students have also reported feeling overloaded with the amount of assignments they receive. This comes as a result of teachers trying to replicate the amount of material they normally would cover. Students are now required to work more independently, making it harder for most to keep up with usual expectations. The question becomes whether to slow down lessons, leaving students less prepared, or stay at a normal pace and cause students stress. Balancing efficiency and the reality of our current situation is a grueling idea to take into account with every assignment. Although there is no way to make online learning feel exactly like school in person, keep in mind that student workload is weighing heavily on the minds of teachers.
Despite there being many problems with the amount of work teachers are now required to do, many teachers noted not being able to connect with their students as the biggest issue they face. When students don’t participate in class by unmuting and responding in the chat, it can be hard for teachers to gauge their level of understanding. Having your camera turned on also allows teachers to tell how you are responding to the material, but it’s more than that.
Teachers noted feeling isolated during class time because they are now speaking to a list of names, rather than the faces of students. So, if you can, try your best to turn on your camera. In large numbers, it helps preserve a sense of normalcy in a virtual classroom.
Overall, the most significant thing divulged from the survey was also the most obvious: teachers are struggling with online learning just as much as students, if not more. Doing simple things, like coming to class on time and participating, go a long way in terms of improving the experience of teachers. It’s important to be mindful that online learning is a confusing endeavor for everyone involved.