By Dylan Talbot
The long-term effects of distance learning on children are still unknown, but some teachers have opinions on the matter.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has affected everyone, and schoolchildren are no exception. Since the beginning of the pandemic, many kids have found their schools shut down. This forced them to receive their education virtually. The suddenness of this change meant that schools and teachers had to adapt quickly. Teachers who had never taught outside of classrooms before found themselves broadcasting to groups of students over zoom.
Situations vary greatly from student to student. Some have well set-up learning areas and access to the latest technology. Others might suffer from a lacking internet connection or a distracting home life. Parents, of course, have felt the effects as well. Many parents have been forced to leave their jobs to stay home with their kids, as they can’t leave them home by themselves. Other parents were forced to pay for expensive childcare for their children while they continued to go to work. All of this led to a rough start for online learning, with many complaining about how it had been implemented.
At this point, schools have started to open once again, and some students are back in person. Others remain online, however.
“It’s been an interesting challenge to teach online,” says Tera, a grade three teacher in the GTA. “You can imagine teaching young kids online, you’ve lost about half of them by 11’oclock in the morning. So, there is some learning lost for sure.”
There are other, less obvious drawbacks to online learning as well. Some areas outside of education have also been affected.
“As a teacher, you’ve now been invited into their home. I mean there are privacy issues around there,” she says.
Tera also had to teach physical education online. She says it is almost impossible to assess her students’ progress in sports and other activities without being in-person to evaluate them. Many kids in her class leave their webcams off which only adds to this difficulty.
It’s not all bad though. There have been some benefits to the students who have chosen to remain online for the time being. Added safety is one of these benefits.
“Some parents were concerned about safety. I think that’s a big reason why some parents chose online,” Tera says. “When all these kids come back, there will have to be some serious learning intervention programs.”
Overall, it seems likely that there has been some level of disruption to students learning. The long-term effects for kids remain to be seen.