Teachers Are Giving eLearning Their Best Shot

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Brielle Allison

Hillsborough County is in its fifth week of eLearning since all Florida school campuses have closed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19. 

Student reviews of eLearning have been mixed, and unsurprisingly, so have the teachers’. 

With the initial decision to move to online learning, some teachers felt prepared for the weeks ahead, but others less so. 

eLearning got off to a rough start for students and teachers alike in the first week. Edsby crashed quite a few times, and teachers had to deal with district expectations regardless of technological issues. 

Betsy MacDonald, an English teacher at Gaither said, “The days were long the first week, honestly, due to the requirements put on us.”

“I was not intimidated at all, and knew exactly what I would be doing with my students,” said MacDonald. 

MacDonald attributes her confidence to the weekly online work she and her classes did in the Gaither computer labs while still in school. 

Some teachers came into online learning feeling more apprehensive. After the first few weeks, teachers have now settled into a routine that they’re confident in. 

“There are many things I love about our online learning,” said Gaither geometry teacher Jon Suits. 

Suits explained the personal benefits of eLearning such as a more flexible schedule, more casual dress and no commute. 

Suits likes the fact that his students can succeed in working at their own pace and reach out to get one-on-one help through Zoom meetings. 

Teachers have been using Zoom meetings to lecture students and hold office hours. They’ve also been uploading presentations and administering tests through Youtube, Edsby and other educational websites. 

As far as communication goes, Google Voice calls and texting apps such as Remind, Slack and GroupMe have been used to reach students, as well as traditional email and phone calls.

With the move to eLearning, some students had struggles gaining access to technology or the internet. However, teachers say that most problems in relation to these have been worked out. 

“Some students have had issues using technology, but that is when I made phone calls to help students through those issues. Students not having a computer at home was a big concern for me, so I volunteered to spend two full days handing out computers at school the first week all this started. I have had a few who struggle with internet issues, but we are working around that as well,” said MacDonald. 

As far as participation goes, teachers feel it’s been roughly the same. eLearning is not the same as being in a classroom, but classwork still continues. 

“The work I have assigned is very similar to the level I would have been assigning if we were in the classroom,” said MacDonald. 

“My students are doing about 80% of their regular work,” said Suits. 

Teachers are making the best of the situation at hand, trying to stay on-track with the curriculum.