By Ryan Yousefi
When Broward students were forced out of schools and into virtual classrooms in March, there was much to be learned about distance learning, and the reality of delivering a comparable curriculum on the fly was yet to be determined.
Following close to two months of trial-by-fire experiences, a new Broward County schoolboard survey of nearly 65,000 students, teachers, and parents gives a glimpse into the positives and negatives that have come from the change.
When reviewing the findings of the study, some positives can be taken right away.
Thanks in large part to a March program providing over 90,000 laptops to Broward students, 98 percent of those students polled report access to a computer device with connectivity — an issue quite obviously at the heart of being able to conduct online classes.
“We are extremely pleased to see those numbers; we know that the digital divide turns out to also be an opportunity divide,” Broward County Superintendent Robert W. Runcie recently told NBC6.
Not all the news to come out of the survey was positive, however. Some numbers revealed a troubling trend of students left to their own devices.
Of the 230,000 students in the district, 36 percent reported they had no contact with an adult from their school in the past seven days.
As many parents will tell you during this time, the digital work provided during this crisis just isn’t filling student’s days, and from the looks of this data, little is being done to follow up on the assignments.
As far as help from within the homes went, 67 percent of students claimed they either don’t receive or infrequently receive help from an adult at home.
Seemingly a direct bi-product of over one-third of the students in Broward County Public Schools not speaking regularly to a representative from their school is that 44 percent reported they were confused by assignments given.
With no classroom to raise their hand in or a teacher to see after class, it seems questions that would typically be addressed in a class setting are going unanswered.
These issues and more will undoubtedly be addressed at a faculty workshop planned for June 16. There, Runcie recently said staff would go over the survey results and do their best to fill in the gaps on the fly.
“We’ve got to work with our teaching staff, provide professional development and training so that they are confident and comfortable and able to do some portion of their instruction through video chatting, video conferencing,” said Runcie.
With the likelihood of further blended teaching settings where at least a portion of classes this Fall remains online, improving the art of e-learning is something everyone involved will need to perfect.
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