Covid-19 fast tracks online teaching skills? Hmmm…yes, but “not quite yet”

This period has been a very frustrating one because so much of what I usually do has been crowded out by the urgent and pressing needs of the moment.

Having to home school my kids from Monday to Friday while trying to teach online classes that, just a few weeks ago I had fully expected to be doing face to face,…well it doesn’t get more crowded and more pressing than this!

With the kids, I have to “fire up” the laptops and computers every morning and make sure everything is in working condition. If there are connectivity or login issues, I have to try and fix them all before my own live online teaching begins.

And then the need to ensure ‘safe’ distancing so neither I nor my children will talk too loud and disturb one another as we proceed with our online lessons. Them with their regular primary school teachers, and me with my own teenage classes.

Since we don’t have that many rooms in the house, we have to get creative and use whatever space in whatever configuration we can, in order to avoid distractions. That might mean one or other of us using either the bedroom or the living room instead of the study room.

Always hoping of course that the connectivity will still be strong enough no matter how far away we move from the source of our home wifi. And in case you’re wondering, no we didn’t get any wifi boosters.

For me, the pressure of time that comes with live online lessons means I’ll have to master (as much as I can) the chosen online teaching platforms assigned by the school. There’s a constant worry that something that works one day, may decide to trip me up the next.

For instance, right now I’m trying to figure out why I still can’t share application windows on the assigned platform even though I’ve tried different things already – adjusting the settings, downloading and installing the requisite extensions, etc.

The implication is clear: not being able to share my screen content with my students means that I have to figure out other less direct ways of giving them access. And with online learning, every extra click of the mouse or a keyboard button, slows and drags down the user experience.

In turn, this leads to demotivation on the part of students to endure through the rest of the lesson. In short, every educator’s worst nightmare!

If I had the luxury of time and ready/ instant access to skilled and knowledgeable IT support and help, then all would be kosher. Unfortunately, this entire 100% online teaching thing got thrown down on all teaching and IT support teams rather hurriedly (and harried-ly!), thanks to the general lockdown by the government these past weeks.

So help is harder to come by, and even if it is, it’s all done remotely which always takes longer. If you’ve ever had someone walk you through a series of troubleshooting steps over the phone for any household equipment, you know very well what I mean!

So expediency dictates that I will just have to manage as best as I can with each day that passes. While each challenge that comes along will undoubtedly sharpen my skills for online teaching, I will barely have time to register the improvement.

Not while we continue living in “The Here and Now”.

The “not quite yet”.

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