• Nick Romano, Graduate Fellow

K-12 Voices: The Upside (and Downside) of Online Teaching

I had the pleasure this week of meeting with Carrie Siegmund, Director of Innovation and Learning Design at the Northeast Georgia Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA), which serves counties in and around Athens, GA. Her position has given her a broad perspective on how Covid-19 has affected families and faculty members.

Carrie feels that her organization and the districts it serves have adapted well to the challenges. During the summer, they spent six weeks preparing to move instruction online, resulting in a smoother transition than many other districts were able to achieve.

That said, she notes that adapting rapidly to an unprecedented situation came with self-imposed limitations. Many measures adopted were little more than temporary Band-Aids, but were the best that many schools could manage under the circumstances.

Preparing for Online Instruction Carrie believes that students are coping well under the new model. She believes that hybrid schooling models may benefit students who appreciate less constrictive approaches, although measuring the effectiveness of the new models is hard to accomplish in such a short time frame. Teachers have also been generally receptive to the new model, partly because they could choose how they wanted to handle their online classes.

More Work and More Stress Many challenges still exist. Carrie notes that internet inequality is a huge issue for hybrid learning, especially for rural participants who often lack access to high-speed connections. Her biggest concern, though, was for the teachers themselves, for whom job stress and workload have increased dramatically under the pandemic. Because teachers for the most part are not receiving the support they need, she suggested that external experts could be brought onboard to help manage the increased workload associated with online teaching.

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