Pandemic related rise in digital learning UPDATED

by Sayraphim on March 29, 2020

So the world is in upheaval. A global pandemic is shutting down entire countries, shops, schools, universities are all closed and, students, parents and teachers are all scrambling for online learning.

In the first week in Australia, I was still teaching. Students came to class but were scared, uncertain about the future or the present, not sure what to do or how to cope

That was my last week of teaching as I’d gotten another, non-teaching job (I’m a data witch now!)

The next week, my uni closed down and had a week free of classes as they scrambled to figure out how to conduct teaching online. The course I was tutoring for has all the lectures and resources/readings online but the tutorials were all face to face.

I’m still getting emails from my old faculty, so I know that the week after the ‘classes postponed’ week was filled with technical glitches while teachers tried to use Zoom to connect with all their students. I have pages of emails saying “Ok, here is the Zoom link” “wait, we think that one is broken, try this one” “ok, people are still having trouble, try this one…” etc etc

But it’s not just tertiary schooling that’s closed. Primary and high schools are closed, and parents are trying to teach their kids from home. Twitter is FILLED with suggestions from parents and teachers and homeschooling parents, who have been doing this for years. Zoom and other video calling programs are overloaded trying to cope with the soaring use (they’re also being used for people working at home away from the office).

My mid-primary-school aged nephew’s school has closed and he was sent home with no homework/lessons/any kind of planning. He, his parents and my mother, a long retired teacher, had a skype meeting and chatted about what he wanted to learn and they’ve figured out a curriculum for him. Mum is teaching him social science, art and one maths lesson a week. The social science and maths are self directed, mum writes them out and posts them to him in an actual letter. The art lesson is through skype.

But not everyone have retired teachers in the family. This is an awesome article by teacher Ewan Mckintosh, who writes:

As schools in Scotland join schools around the world in shutting their physical doors, now is the time to harness the real purpose of school. And it has little to do with planning learning…The highlight of the day for many students is seeing their friends. And so where teachers take just a little time out to bring their class groups together over a synchronous video call, to read a story together, talk about life or share what they’ve been learning in real time, a little bit of magic happens…

The article also included this tweet:

School isn’t just a place that you learn stuff. It’s the social aspect. You see your friends, you interact with other people, you talk to your teachers and all that’s just as important as a times table or grammar rules.

This whole sudden need for a myriad of classes online (not just videos on youtube, but also actually videos on youtube) is, academically speaking, a really interesting moment for someone doing a phd on digital learning and specifically educational youtube. However it is also important to note that I am not at all making light of the pandemic, the fear, the people falling ill and dying. That is not beside the point, I acknowledge that the pandemic and everything associated with it has created this moment in education right around the world.


Online classes are not all perfect and kids arn’t always overjoyed to join their online buddies:

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