Online and distance learning has become the norm for students in central New York primary school throughout university. Will this have a negative impact on education? And should we have been better prepared?
As part of our Syracuse speaks programming, Chris Bolt of WAER spoke with Noliwe Rooks of Cornell University. She is Professor of W-E-B DuBois Literature and Professor of African Studies and Director of the American Studies Program. Rooks says distance learning will widen achievement gaps and retain many students.
Rooks describes the educational situation as “on the brink” that some students may fall into, given the dependency on distance education and which it may leave behind. She believes that students with good technical skills and access to a computer and other resources can thrive through online learning, building on past academic successes. But it’s not everyone.
“What we know from research is that students who do not have the same benefits and privileges do not succeed. The fall further and further. “
Rooks finds that the successful school districts – and those that will do better in a distance-filled future – are the ones that train teachers and students to make the most of online learning.
During the isolation of the coronavirus, demanding that all schooling take place at a distance, she saw creative ways to increase success. Some teachers use public television platforms and programs to make certain lessons more engaging. It also praises the parents, some of whom have taken on the task of teaching a subject to a group of pupils at the same time, at a distance, by exchanging with other parents who may then be free for other tasks. There are also certain principles of good distance education.
“People who do distance learning, online education say that… the teaching blocks should not last more than 20 minutes. You are in a losing battle to keep their attention, ”says Rooks. “And the way you can split an activity, so (the students) don’t just look at a screen, … and then you have some kind of evaluation.”
She adds that most online platforms have a chat or question function to get feedback from students, to help them stay engaged. She also recommends that they use smaller online groups to answer a question or solve a problem.
Rooks thinks that the entire education system was caught off guard and should have been better prepared for some sort of prolonged disruption of learning in the classroom. Emergency planning could have taken into account the weather, economic, health or other conditions that would have led to the current situation. But few districts were prepared or had trained teachers.
She fears that there could be long-term consequences if the educational gaps that already exist are exacerbated by the continued use of online learning.
“The concern is that the ability to keep going without (impacts) is really based on ability, on class, on race,” said Rooks. “Schools that were already struggling … your children are in danger. … Unfortunately, I think it’s a gong to collapse on lines that we already know. This pandemic, this health crisis only highlights these cracks, these cracks that were already there. ”
She adds that some districts have told students that they will have to repeat a year or an entire year, even after missing only two months of traditional education.
WAER’s Syracuse Speaks will broadcast an hour-long program on the impacts of the COVID 19 crisis on education on Friday, May 15 on 88.3 FM and online at WAER.org. Find other Syracuse Speaks programs here.