back to article Tech widens the educational divide. And I should know – I'm a teacher in a pandemic

Welcome to the latest Register Debate in which writers discuss technology topics, and you – the reader – choose the winning argument. The format is simple: we propose a motion, the arguments for the motion will run this Monday and Wednesday, and the arguments against on Tuesday and Thursday. During the week you can cast your …

  1. imanidiot Silver badge

    So, earnest questions based on this input:

    Is it really the technology itself that is the problem, or the lack of access to that technology that means that some students have access to things other students do not? Given equal circumstances (all students have a laptop, broadband internet access for said laptop, electrical power and a place to set up at home to do the work) would the tech still have an unequal impact on those who have more trouble learning?

    Personally I've never been a fan of "distance" communication anyway. I dislike phones, I absolutely detest one-on-one video conferencing/calls and meetings/conference calls through things like teams can f*ck right off imho. I can imagine for some kids (regardless of "socio-economic background") this "distance learning" just doesn't work at all. I doubt I'd have made it through school with the grades I did if I'd have had to deal with that even apart from all the other personal stuff that meant I finished with good grades instead of what might have been "cum laude".

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      I was a crap student at school even in a class with a teacher, I despised the notion of spending all day at school and then doing more hours of homework, so, in a situation like the pandemic I would have been out on my bike with a camera.

      I imagine that without the discipline of a classroom environment many kids will be less than inspired to work.

      With the benefit of hindsight, if it looks as though LFH (learning from home) will continue to be a thing in the future, teachers need specific training to manage it and lesson formats need to be developed to fit online learning.

      The bottom line though, is to get kids back into school where discipline, a learning environment, peer pressure, the personal presence of an authority figure all contribute to kifs doing the work.

      1. Snowy Silver badge

        Not all peer pressure is good some is rather bad.

        1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
          Holmes

          "Not all peer pressure is good some is rather bad."

          Downvoted for pointing out the bleedin' obvious.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "I imagine that without the discipline of a classroom environment many kids will be less than inspired to work."

        That points to parents having abdicated their responsibilities for educating their children to the State. The same goes for those that bang on about the impact to their children's health by not getting (free) school lunches. I notice that many of these parents on the telly are covered in tattoos. The parents are prioritizing finishing the sleeve on their arm over feeding their kids.

        Attending remote classes and doing my homework would have been overseen by my father who wouldn't put up with skiving off. I loved my dad and he did well raising me by setting good boundaries. Once homework was done, I go out and do what I wanted (within reason. boundaries again). That motivated me to get it over with quickly. Grades and citizenship had to be kept up too. No way to get by with just going through the motions.

        Perhaps the issue is that there have been enough generations of people that have all been required to visit a proper school that new parents are just conditioned to not think about it as being their job anymore.

    2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Despite being taught to touch type...

      At the age of 7 (local authority experiment for heavily dyslexic kids) I was always a hands on kind of child.

      As such being given all work via a laptop at first would have been fascinating but after the first week or two I'd want to be back playing with the toys the school had. I mean think about it, does everyone's home have a science lab, a music room (soundproofed so your Dad working shifts isn't woken up again, ratty as hell), a Design and Tech rooms with etch tanks, soldering irons and metal workshops?

      Not everyone learns by sitting still. Some of us do so much better by doing, not reading.

      1. Mike 137 Silver badge

        Re: Despite being taught to touch type...

        "Not everyone learns by sitting still. Some of us do so much better by doing, not reading."

        Whether primarily based on doing or reading, real learning starts with having to work out how to do. The basic paradigm of most mass education systems is defective. It assumes that [1] "everyone" can make effective use of the same message; [2] being told something and remembering it is equivalent to knowledge of it; [3] commonly, that nobody should be allowed to "fail" as it's bad for their psyche.

        The reality of knowledge is that it's demonstrated by the result - being able to use it effectively in novel circumstances, and that capacity is to a great extent acquired by having to solve problems. Consequently, failures are not only inevitable in the path to knowledge, they're essential - provided there's an opportunity to correct them and learn from them without censure.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Despite being taught to touch type...

        "I mean think about it, does everyone's home have a science lab, a music room (soundproofed so your Dad working shifts isn't woken up again, ratty as hell), a Design and Tech rooms with etch tanks, soldering irons and metal workshops?"

        How about: "Doesn't everyone's SCHOOL have a ...."

        Nope. I averaged one new school a year and never went to one with those kinds of facilities.

        1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

          Re: Despite being taught to touch type...

          Wow... And I thought I came from a deprived town (went to two different secondary schools, both with good metal bashing/woodworking shops, music rooms, the electronics lab was in the second of the two).

          All public schools, no private nonsense. The first seemed happy to just label me as thick because of dyslexia but the second one gave me a shot at the top classes, the result? I only dropped from the first to second class in English lit/lang.

          Maybe then we're asking the wrong question of if tech can improve things but more we should be asking how we can give all an equal crack at education?

        2. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Despite being taught to touch type...

          Nope. I averaged one new school a year and never went to one with those kinds of facilities.

          How long ago was that? Our local school has music rooms full of Macs with midi keyboards, art rooms full of Macs for design. They have laser cutters and CNC kit, all kinds of science stuff.

          Even many years ago when I went we had gas cabinets, Van Der Graaf, language labs with headsets and workshops stuffed with lathes, brazing stations, oxy-acetylene, milling machines etc.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Despite being taught to touch type...

            My school had a lot of that stuff, but we weren't generally allowed to use it very often.

            Especially the IT suite. For the most part we got to use shitty low end desktops (for the time)...the comp lab had a few Silicon Graphics Machines (the same model they used to make Toy Story, I know this because it said so in the school brochure).

            The good shit was only ever wheeled out on open days etc.

            Me a couple of mates still found ways to get to it though but it involved learning how to pick locks and crack passwords.

            So yeah, the skills we acquired from our computing lab were lock picking (without damaging the lock), planning how to escape if a teacher showed up, how to be a good look out, how to scout out where teachers were going to be, how to reset passwords on kit when you have physical access etc.

            Everything you need to be in Oceans 11.

            Because of the limited time we got on the machines through these methods we only really learnt how to install Doom and run a few tech demos etc.

            It's one thing the school's having the kit, but having the ability to maintain it to allow regular access for kids is another.

            This was back in the mid 90s and the quality of school based sysadmins was absolutely crap, we ran rings around our sysadmins.

            Not sure of the state of things today, my kids aren't old enough to have started much IT yet at school. Though I've had my oldest using Linux since he was 3 years old, he's 6 now and pretty good for his age. To the point where his friend brought his Xbox over to play some Minecraft on during a sleepover with my lad, and he wanted to mod it to the same degree my lad has, my lad said "yeah it's pretty easy, just open a terminal and I'll show you", he then learned that you can't do that on an Xbox and referred to it as "rubbish" and said "is it for babies?". I was very proud.

            He built his own machine about a year ago (with a little help and oversight obviously, I'm not going to try and convince anyone that my 6 year old somehow made £500k in a weekend selling NFTs because he is a miracle, or got his MCSE "all by himself").

            Before anyone decides to wade in and play the "you must be rich" card. None of the parts cost me anything (except the GPU, which was second hand off eBay, £40, GTX 980 Ti).

            The rest of the parts came from my scrap heap which is made up of people's cast offs. For some reason as an "IT guy" everyone thinks I want their old crap.

            Here's a tip. Don't throw your old machines. Take them apart, give your kids a set of screw drivers and let them go at it.

            If they fix it, great...if not, teach them how...its way easier to build a PC now than it's ever been and way cheaper because there is old second hand stuff everywhere.

            My local tip has a mountain of old machines that a few guys there go through to salvage parts from to build working machines for local kids. All I got from them was a CPU (i7-6700, which I made a donation of loads of other kit for).

            The only minor issues I had with my oldest having to do remote schooling was that some of the portals were built in Flash. Which generally doesn't work on Linux anymore and they definitely don't work on tablets.

            The worst one was RM Maths. Firefox was convinced that the site was malware with the sheer amount of cross site bullshit happening in the background.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Despite being taught to touch type...

        I read a paper on this not so long ago. I can't remember the name of it, but they experimented on a couple of thousand people to test this notion out.

        The purpose was to find the best "learning style" for each person based on testing and what the person thought was their preferred learning style.

        The styles were hands on, reading and dictation (chalkboard style teaching).

        Over half said they learned better by being hands on. Less than 5% actually were. Same applied to chalkboard based teaching. The most successful form of learning was self paced reading. Everyone, literally, scored better results through just reading.

        If you think you learn better doing, it's probably got more to do with the pace Vs stand up teaching than actually doing stuff.

      4. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Despite being taught to touch type...

        "I mean think about it, does everyone's home have a science lab, a music room (soundproofed so your Dad working shifts isn't woken up again, ratty as hell), a Design and Tech rooms with etch tanks, soldering irons and metal workshops?"

        That's why it's good to have friends. My scoutmaster was an EE and had a really great electronics shop at home. One of his sons was in the same year and we would do stuff together. I saved up and bought a drum set when I was in high school. I just had to practice when the folks were out of the house. A piano or even guitar would have been easier. I did take up the clarinet for a while and that's not too loud.

    3. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo

      I guess its not technology in itself that's the problem, the underlying issue is, and will always be, inequality. However, when all pupils go to class physically, the teacher can act as an equalizer, furthermore, the weaker learners may also profit from their stronger learning peers. Who hasn't experienced the following: you explain something that you merely understand to a colleague who has no clue, and the act of explaining and the colleagues questions give you more insight.

      With distance or hybrid learning every pupil is on his/her own. Alone in the bedroom, in front of a laptop without the constant feedback of teacher and classmates.

      Motivation? You're on your own, kiddo. No peers to do the homework with.

      Why tech wides the educational divide, imho, is the reliance on tech, and not the existence of it.

    4. jmch Silver badge

      Agree, it's not the tech itself that widens the gap, it's all the ancillary stuff around it. But you can't isolate the tech from the capability to use it. And schools can't just assume that if students have laptops they can do the work.

      You need good broadband, power, dedicated space/room +desk. To do it properly, students also would benefit from external keyboard / mouse / screen. Also, you got to have all students on camera, and a giant screen /s on the teacher side so they can see all the students.

      All of which is much more accessible to students from richer families

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not mention if the home environment is noisy, chaotic, filled with argumentative shouting, and in the worst case, abusive, it is very hard for students to focus.

        To be fair, it is does happen that some school environments are noisy, chaotic, filled with argumentative shouting, and in the worst case, abusive.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Even in the calmest home environment (rare, but possible), noise is a big issue. Few people live in houses where sounds from one room cannot be heard in others. For example, Mrs IP can't tolerate headphones, so has important meetings/teaching sessions withe speakers on. Those can be heard in at least two other rooms. We haven't given the children headphones because of the potential damage to hearing, so their online use also gets heard in at least two rooms. The washing machine, especially on spin, can be heard in several rooms. At those times, I'd like to have my headphones on, even if nothing is playing, because my ASD means I don't deal well with multiple sound sources, especially if more than one is carrying some sort of information. However, I can't, because I need to be able to hear if any of the other three need anything, so I end up in the quietest(!) bit of the house, huddled up and achieving nothing.

          1. jake Silver badge

            "so I end up in the quietest(!) bit of the house, huddled up and achieving nothing."

            Should have spent your time in the kitchen learning to brew beer and/or wine, cheese making, canning and pickling (fermenting), and baking bread. If you had started during the first shutdown, you'd be a pro at all of them by now ... and saving a ton of money as the price of food and drink skyrockets.

            Before you say it, I know several people with ASD who excel in all of the above. It centers them.

            The window to learn is not closed ... and it's never a bad time to start.

            Seriously, try it, you just might like it. I guarantee 'er indoors will love it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Which is why the government needs to stop developers building two and three bedroom flats en masse and properly define "affordable housing".

        The number of apartment developments I see these days is staggering. The percentage of it that is only cheap if you're a pensioner is also staggering.

        Shared ownership is bullshit too. I went through that before I bought a house. Staircased out my ownership etc. That's all fine and well...but selling a shared ownership property is insanely hard. Very few people want to buy staircased shared ownership properties.

        Ultimately, on a shared ownership the value increased by £20k in 13 years. Which isn't even what I spent in maintenance, refurbishments etc.

        I'd put a new kitchen in, new bathroom, had the place redecorated a couple of times and so on...typical stuff you do to add value to a place.

        It made no difference.

        That flat was in a very desirable area too. In one of the countries highest rated local authorities (Elmbridge).

        What's going to happen is that we're going to end up with an absolute shit load of run down flats worthless flats where local authorities will stash the poor.

    5. Naselus

      The problem is that the format of schools has very little to do with educating students, and quite a lot to do with babysitting while parents are at work. Keeping the kids at home rather laid this bare.

      All studies suggest that a highly trained adult (multiple post-grad degrees and years of experience and training) can engage in creative learning for perhaps 4 hours in a day, split into 3-4 separate periods. For untrained children, it is likely that, in ideal circumstances, at best, they can realistically manage an hour and a half split into two or three fairly short sessions, starting no earlier than 11am so the kids are well-rested and ready for some actual work. Lecturing from the blackboard starting at 08:30 is possibly the worst method of delivering learning, and schools appear to willfully go against any academic advice on how best to improve educational outcomes.

      Ultimately, you could probably achieve better learning outcomes keeping the kids at home and engaging in maybe 2 hours of well-crafted, engaging educational content a day. Trying to replicate school's failed 8-hour model at home was doomed to fail, but the problem wasn't to do with tech or hybridization - the content is the issue and however you choose to deliver it it's been failing the majority of pupils for decades.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Teachers also need to be accountable as well. During home learning I saw some absolutely terrible "lessons" delivered - which were nothing more than a PowerPoint and a few questions.

    Some of the older teachers, who refused to even look at more modern teaching methods and the use of SharePoint & Teams long before lockdown, seemed to deliver lacklustre lessons - pretty much the same as the ones they'd have done if they were in school, whereas the younger teachers and NQTs delivered something more engaging and refreshing making the most of the technology.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > During home learning I saw some absolutely terrible "lessons" delivered - which were nothing more than a PowerPoint and a few questions.

      You can't describe those lessons as terrible without knowing the learning objectives behind them. And you can't infer those from the PowerPoint(s) you saw (unless you are already an experienced teacher in which case you wouldn't be here making the point).

      1. I am David Jones

        If the learning objective was “how to cope with business meetings, it was probably spot on!

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      " During home learning I saw some absolutely terrible "lessons" delivered - which were nothing more than a PowerPoint and a few questions."

      I expect that some of those lessons were horrible. It can take years for a teacher to build a set of lesson plans that work for the type of students they get at their school. To expect them to be told to develop a whole new lesson plan via different tools is going to lead to big problems. Many of the solutions I saw was to just throw hardware and proprietary software at it. No support, no plans, no plan B.

      Some years ago a friend of mine was contemplating starting a company that specialized in developing lesson plans for science and engineering for schools (K-12). The concept was that experts in the fields would be consulted on the material and plans could be tailored for different ages, resources and pacing. The hurdle was being able to get districts/states/etc to sign on to the concept. Most schools rely on the teachers to build the lesson plans so they aren't going to put the money out to purchase the packages. Another factor could be schools just copying the materials and using them forever without any sort of subscription. The end goal was for schools to have top quality lesson plans and teachers could just get on with teaching. It would also mean that kids transferring between schools would be able to pick right up from where they had left off.

      I'm not all that happy with thinking laptops are the way to go. They are designed to be small and light but not particularly robust. Every maker is always wanting to brag how thin and light their newest offering is. Why not a small form factor desktop? They are easier to service and if there is little need to lug them from here to there frequently, they don't have to be super portable. A bigger screen is easier on the eyes.

  3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Education leads to Learning

    As a kid in school I used Home Learning Packs - distance learning meant that I had to ride the bus to the town library to get four or five Home Learning Packs every week 60 years ago. Computers and technology are very useful for researching things which can lead to "education" but do not guarantee education. Reading books is a major factor because it takes a lot of effort and checks to get a book written, published, and proposed as part of the terms' lesson plans - so reading a book is far more educational then reading a post on the Internet at some social media site.

    Getting the students to think is far more important - reading makes you think, tapping a keyboard pushes everyone in a different direction.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Education leads to Learning

      Reading. Oh yes.

      And kids that have not been read stories when they were little, whose parents did not have the time (or ... well, whatever reasons) to do that, or to sit down and look at how letters form words, and show that wonderful world of literature, those kids have a harder start in school, are less likely to read for simple enjoyment, and will have a harder time to learn things that others just pick up because they read books, about nature, science, adventures, or just the instruction manual of the new oven, because "hey, it is a wirtten thing, I must read everything written, might be interesting".

      And then there are actually parents who do not want their kids to take part in programs that promote reading, who do not want to spend the fiver on a cheap kids book (but have a five packs a day smoking habit), or just don't see the point in going to the town's library with their kids. Inequality in the education system starts early.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Education leads to Learning

        I used to smoke 5 packs per day. Today, that would cost ~$200/month. do you know how many books you can buy for $200/month??? More than any extremely motivated child could read.

        In my own personal opinion, inequality in education systems only had to last one generation for it to impact everyone until the end of time...unless the victims take it upon themselves to rectify the situation and as long as ignorance isn't fatal, this isn't likely to be a strived-for outcome.

        1. SkippyBing

          Re: Education leads to Learning

          'do you know how many books you can buy for $200/month???'

          Yes, yes I do. And the answer is not enough.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Education leads to Learning

            "Yes, yes I do. And the answer is not enough."

            There are a couple of homes with library boxes in their front yard I've been taking advantage of. The local second hand shop has a big section of books, cheap. If you are into popular authors, many libraries wind up with too many donated copies and give them away for next to nothing in big bags. I can fill a tall Billy bookcase with books for under $200 a month.

            1. SkippyBing

              Re: Education leads to Learning

              That's definitely possible, and I get a lot of books from the second hand stall in the local market. I've also been known to spend ~£50 on a second hand book in a niche area of interest (I think it was the history of naval radar) because it's long out of print and it's the only way to get the information.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Education leads to Learning

        I had to update my diary recently ... "I'm not sure how I will vote. Sometimes I think Mr Boris is a nice kind sort of man. Then the next day I see him on television and he frightens me rigid. He has got eyes like a psychotic killer, but a voice like a gentle person. It is a bit confusing." - Adrian Mole in 2021.

  4. Joe Drunk

    Faulty parents

    Kids who don't complete Home Learning Packs lack a role model at home that ensures these assignments get done. I did a stint upgrading teachers' desktop PCs at a high school a few years back before the pandemic. The students who had the most difficulty behavior wise and grade wise also had parents who wouldn't reply to emails or letters sent home requesting to meet with them. It's almost as if once they breed them they expect the school to raise their kids for them. Bad home life equals bad school life.

    1. Paul Kinsler Silver badge

      Re: Faulty parents

      It might well be faulty parents. However, working out who to blame doesn't solve the actual problem at hand (and the subsequent difficulties, that affect both the pupil and society, that follow in later years).

      The real question should be -- How do we *fix* the educational divide?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Faulty parents

        > The real question should be -- How do we *fix* the educational divide?

        Do you have a month or so to type the list while I dictate?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Faulty parents

        In two dimensions

        1. help parents to cope with life ("faulty" parents are often struggling to cope, because they were not prepared by their own parents)

        2. help kids to find a productive outlet that suits them, and also coach them in coping with life

        I'm deliberately using the word "coach" here because it is way different to academic learning - it's very relationship-based.

        Some years ago I had the opportunity to help a little charity called CHEXS with website matters, and the above 2 points are nicked from their approach.

        CHECKS was started by a teacher trying to prevent kids from getting excluded from school. They found that about half the time it was the kids who had issues, half the time it was the parent's issues that were messing up the kids.

        So their strategy is to help with parents manage finances & not get stressed out by life. For the kids they run activities that develop a sense of self-worth and achievement (adventure stuff, etc.).

        Although their reach is small - only kids at risk of exclusion - and it takes a lot of time to help these youngsters, the principle could be extended to other kids who are not doing well at school.

        1. SundogUK Silver badge

          Re: Faulty parents

          And who exactly is going to pay for this?

          1. adrianrf

            Re: Faulty parents

            you [we] are… either way.

            it’s much, much cheaper to do it upfront, pre-emptively, vs. after the fact in correctional mode.

          2. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Faulty parents

            >And who exactly is going to pay for this?

            Well as the founder of the Big Issue pointed out to David Cameron, it's cheaper to send a child to Eton than to keep them in the care system.

            Although, given the psychological damage boarding schools do, I wouldn't want to send children to Eton or boarding schools in general.

      3. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Faulty parents

        Mandatory pre-school for the parents (both of them together, even if they are divorced) where they learn how to best guide their sprog through school and what will be expected of THEM by the school during every year of their growth. Preferably to be completed before their sprog has their first real school day. With a refresher coarse every year. (again, mandatory).

        And if you can't afford to spend that many days, well, don't have kids!

        1. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

          Re: Faulty parents

          'Don't have kids' - that's the problem in a nutshell. It baffles me why some - many - have kids, they certainly don't seem to love them. I knew I was too selfish to devote the time needed to do the job properly, so I didn't have any.

          1. Phones Sheridan

            Re: Faulty parents

            “ It baffles me why some - many - have kids.

            For the answer to that, you need to watch the film “Idiocracy”. Snippet below

            https://youtu.be/sP2tUW0HDHA

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Faulty parents

          At a high-level, that all sounds reasonable, but the devil's in the details. Who's going to fund it? Who's going to enforce it, and what will be the consequences of non-compliance? Who's going to design and produce the curricula for it? Who's going to teach the classes?

          And what's going to happen to society when a large chunk of the work force has to miss a couple of days' work late in the summer to attend these parenting classes?

          1. imanidiot Silver badge

            Re: Faulty parents

            We already have a truancy/absence rules for the children. In this case I don't think there should be a difference between kids missing school days versus parents missing school days. As for funding, etc, there's already been lots of talk of reducing the amount of working hours from the standard 40 hour weeks anyway so here's a good input for what to do with those hours.

            As for cirricula, I don't have a good answer for that, but given the massive amount of "public servants" I see in pretty much every country getting involved in education (whether it needs it or not) I doubt we don't have the manhours to spare for a project like this. We're not talking a full year of 5 days a week full time education. More of a short course on "how not to be a total knobhead to your kids and give them a fighting chance". You could probably fill a day already just with teachers of a school explaining to parents the lesson plan they wrote for that year and what lessons they will expect the kids to learn at what time.

          2. SkippyBing

            Re: Faulty parents

            Can I put in a suggestion of rearranging the school year so there aren't massive holidays in the Summer allowing everyone to forget everything? Spread the holidays out across the year more, you could even stagger them between education authorities so everyone isn't trying to go on holiday at the same time.

            It's not as we're a predominately agricultural economy that needs the manpower in August anymore.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: Faulty parents

              >Can I put in a suggestion of rearranging the school year

              The school my children went to used a 5x8 week term system with two weeks off between terms and four weeks in the summer. Works very well, provided all your children are at the school. Not sure I would want to extend it to other schools - we would lose the having holidays when other schools are still teaching...

            2. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Faulty parents

              "Spread the holidays out across the year more, you could even stagger them between education authorities so everyone isn't trying to go on holiday at the same time."

              That can depend on the region whether it will work or not. Where I am, summer holidays are around the time when it's the hottest and winter break about the time when it's the coldest. I know when I was in school there was always problems with the HVAC in at least one of my classrooms. School buildings are also subject to different building codes that I swear are meant to make them harder to heat and cool. They may be .01% safer in a nuclear war, but that safety might be swamped out if their parents work somewhere that collapses on them at the same time. The long summer holiday can mean dramatically lower utility bills. A large number of "snow" days also means that time has to be made up somewhere to conform with minimum teaching day mandates.

              Any construction at a school can be very disruptive and more districts require full background checks for anybody that will be working on campus while school is in session. That's going to limit the workforce a construction company can use. Some won't pass and some aren't going to put up with the privacy intrusion. And then there is the health and safety regs that will require all students have to wear hi-vis, steel toe boots, hardhats and googles because stuff with tools is going on within a 1km radius.

              I'm not against a longer teaching year, but I can see some of the rationale.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tech probably does widen the educational divide

    but what were the better alternatives during lockdown?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Tech probably does widen the educational divide

      Not locking down the schools: see Denmark, Sweden, et al. for data on this.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Tech probably does widen the educational divide

        Shouldn't that be just Sweden? Denmark sent children home in 2020 like many places because nobody knew what they were dealing with, then started opening up in 2021.

        Sweden meanwhile did a split 50/50 home/school teaching in 2020 but didn't keep any useful data about what happened.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Tech probably does widen the educational divide

          Denmark had the kids back in school in spring 2020.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No difference between grammar & comprehensive

    Of our kids, one is at a grammar and the other at a comp.

    The comp. had a program to provide laptops for the kids, the grammar didn't.

    Either way, both our kids had 3 year old laptops and they sat side by side at the table (the one where we normally eat).

    Quality of lessons was similar and both kids learned pretty well under the circumstances.

    At the end of the day there is a result outcome between grammar and comp, which is simply that only kids in the top 30% academically get to go the grammar - so no surprise, grammar results are higher than those of the comp. And of course expectations are higher at the grammar - more "push" for the grades.

    IMO the bottom line here is that without direct supervision, teachers are much less able to carry the dis-interested kids along with the online lessons. That is not necessarily an artifact of technology, just absence of face-to-face contact (would the the same for education by correspondence). Especially for the kids who are motivated by personal contact.

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

      Re: No difference between grammar & comprehensive

      >. And of course expectations are higher at the grammar - more "push" for the grades.

      At the local girls' Catholic grammar school they insisted that the students wore school uniform during the school day while working from home. And after a few weeks they had a random "Girls, please stand up" just to make sure it was full uniform. :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No difference between grammar & comprehensive

        And if the child had been wearing nothing more than the shirt? Would everyone on the video call been prosecuted as a sex offender?

      2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: No difference between grammar & comprehensive

        That is unacceptable. The children were in their own homes. The school had no standing to enforce what was worn. The rules end at the school gate.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: No difference between grammar & comprehensive

          The usual uniform enforcement is to send them home to change, I wonder how that would work.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: No difference between grammar & comprehensive

            "The usual uniform enforcement is to send them home to change, I wonder how that would work.'

            The same way that not turning in homework is handled.

        2. Little Mouse Silver badge

          Re: No difference between grammar & comprehensive

          "The rules end at the school gate." Well, almost...

          At my old school, if you were seen dicking around in public whilst wearing your uniform, you'd definitely get a bollocking the next day for casting the school in a bad light.

          I imagine most schools today would have a similar attitude.

      3. SkippyBing

        Re: No difference between grammar & comprehensive

        I'm sure the parents were delighted at having to continue to wash and iron school uniforms through the lock down...

      4. Little Mouse Silver badge

        Re: No difference between grammar & comprehensive

        There was no obligation to wear uniform at home from my child's school, and quite rightly too, but she would still clip her school tie onto whatever she was wearing that day whilst in "school mode". Bless.

      5. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: No difference between grammar & comprehensive

        "At the local girls' Catholic grammar school they insisted that the students wore school uniform during the school day while working from home. And after a few weeks they had a random "Girls, please stand up" just to make sure it was full uniform. :-)"

        Not a bad idea. Some "experts" on working from home suggest you get up each morning and prep and dress just like you are traveling to work to put you into work mode. This is in addition to having a separate work space and not just clearing a spot on the dining room table. A formal routine being the most important thing. If this means donning a school uniform, so be it. It's just a ritual. Requiring a face mask as at least one college in the US wants to require is more than silly.

  7. Plest Bronze badge
    Unhappy

    A bit of messy rushed cock-up at all levels

    Problems on both sides, it was a huge rushed job, some teachers and students go on OK others did not. Some kids can be left to so stuff on their own and some not.

    My daughter was one of a handful who loved being home, being left alone to just get on with the work without a load of noise and classroom racket, some days I didn't even know she was home or out as it was so quite upstairs! So many kids she knew didn't bother to hand it in, the school had to have sessions to herd all the kids and parents to tell them that there were X number of assignments that needed to be finished. My daughter said that most saw it as an extra long holiday, sit up until 3am playing games or binging Netflix, sleep through the online lessions with the camera off, put in the minimum work that afternoon, just enough to get by without getting caught.

    A think a whole generation is going to be in a bit of a state after all this and the effect it had on their education, especially if they were lined up for exams during all this.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: A bit of messy rushed cock-up at all levels

      sleep through the lessons put in the minimum work that afternoon, just enough to get by without getting caught.

      pretty much describes how I dealt with school.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: A bit of messy rushed cock-up at all levels

        "sleep through the lessons put in the minimum work that afternoon, just enough to get by without getting caught."

        So just like the real world where you do enough work to keep from getting the sack and they pay you just enough to keep you from quitting.

  8. Valeyard

    maybe it widens in both directions

    Rather than the uneager being less inclined, perhaps the more eager are also getting better

    I know when I was at school at least half of every lesson was the teacher fighting with those who thought it was cool to not know anything and be disruptive, who in my school were the loud majority. Sometimes we had to sit and read a book or something while the teacher caught up some of my peers who just didn't get the beginner concept of something even though they may have tried.

    Without all of this distraction, if a lesson was pre-planned and interactive and i didn't necessarily need to wait for the teacher I could see myself being better off while the teacher gave other students time they needed

  9. Diogenes

    Been teaching for 10 years. Trying to teach online sucks big time. Because cameras were off, you could not see the puzzled look, or that light bulb moment when a student was either confused , or got it so you could adjust. Because for my sins I teach IT, and trying to teach programming remotely was even more difficult given we were doing the paper, phone laptop shuffle as well.

    Because in our case everything was rushed, yes some dreadful lessons went out at first, and it would have been nice to teach the kids a lesson on how to submit work on Google classroom or MS teams, or even do something as mundane as zipping a file so they could attach it to their assignment

  10. Filippo Silver badge

    Remote schooling is terrible, but this is not a technological problem. Or, rather, it is a technological problem only in the sense that "where is my fission-powered flying car?" is a technological problem. The real problem is that you are not requesting tech, you are requesting magic.

    Current tech is just not capable of effectively replacing large meetings (such as a classroom). It's not even close. It should not be asked to attempt it. It only appears to sort-of work for business environments because nobody really expects large business meetings to be productive anyway.

    Now, circumstances are sadly exceptional, and we have had to make do with remote schooling. But that only made sense because there was no alternative; it's damage mitigation.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "Current tech is just not capable of effectively replacing large meetings"

      The ability to do that sort of thing is there, just not implemented for schools and far too expensive. It also needs too much support.

      Big companies have had high quality remote meeting tech for some years now. It's not always cost effective to fly people all over the world to meet in person and it is much easier to support the tech than to do many things piecemeal.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Coming up on 40 years.

        "Big companies have had high quality remote meeting tech for some years now."

        A company I worked for was selling OEMed video conferencing gear, collaborative stuff like interactive remote whiteboarding, and etc. capability in the mid 1980s. They worked quite well ... better over leased T1 (T3) lines, to be sure, but they worked just fine over The Internet, assuming a large enough pipe to "the backbone" (whatever THAT was). I don't ever remember having any issues[0] with it in the several years that I used it.

        How far we've come in over a third of a century. Or not. Still like your Cloud?

        [0] To be fair, the whiteboard was kinda flaky, but that was hardware issues (pilot build), not software or networking.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile the Open University has reported record student numbers and very little disruption to their courses - but they've been teaching remotely for 50 years and charge less for a degree (£6000ish).

    So it can be done, but you can't just do it at the drop of a pandemic.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      I used to teach for the OU. I found that, because the students choose the distance-learning format, they are poor indicators of how good the format actually is. People who don't do well with distance-learning either won't enrol in the first place, or drop out fairly quickly. That doesn't mean it shouldn't exist, but it emphasises that choice us a good thing. Traditional universities do serve adult learners very badly, though.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      and charge less for a degree (£6000ish).

      £6000ish per year equivalent to a full time degree. 120 units will cost you about £6K.

      So a 30 pointer will be 1400 or so, a 60 point course £2600. You need 360 for Hons.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "Meanwhile the Open University has reported record student numbers and very little disruption to their courses - but they've been teaching remotely for 50 years and charge less for a degree (£6000ish)."

      Those 50 years have let them develop their lessons over a long period of time. They didn't get to where they are now with a month's notice and no support.

      1. jake Silver badge

        I suspect thr record numbers are from ...

        ... record numbers of adults sitting at home, bored shitless.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In short...

    ...There are no Technology solutions to People problems.

  13. Sir Loin Of Beef

    I know the feeling. I have been at my job for almost a year and half and have never been inside the building and have only met two of my coworkers face-to-face.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think also the attitude of schools/teachers to what could be done in the situation also had an impact.

    I remember last May we had a local "socially distanced" street "party" on the VE day 50th anniversary and I heard the son of our neighbours complaining - he was in GCSE year but his teachers at the local state school (who are probably the top ranking state school in the city) had basically told him "school is sending everyone home, you'll have no exams so you've got a 6 month holiday - aren't you lucky!". He was angry befause he had friends who went to a local private school and were still being taught so that they could both finish and master all the GCSE syllabus + get a head start on A-levels. He basically saw this as being unfair and that he was being left behind because his teachers had basically abandoned him.

    Meanwhile, as a further contrast, we know someone who teaches in a private boarding school here which is another level up in the school rankings ... not only were they doing the full teaching program on-line but they were also often doing lessons twice to cope with the large number of overseas students that had gone home with a morning lesson for UK, European and Asian puplis and a late afternoon repeat for pupils in the Americas.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      I think a big problem is the attitude of schools - basically, they don't think like a business.

      By this I don't mean profit/loss but focusing on the process of input/output value-add.

      Most schools get the idea that you need good teachers, but then do little to really support them. My local school implements a couple of simple rules: no compulsory homework for pupils, no staff working unpaid overtime ie. burning the midnight oil marking (staff hours are 8am to 6pm). This with a few other rules has meant they have focused on what services and systems are needed to support teachers and to encourage value-add.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Most schools get the idea that you need good teachers, but then do little to really support them. My local school implements a couple of simple rules: no compulsory homework for pupils, no staff working unpaid overtime ie. burning the midnight oil marking (staff hours are 8am to 6pm). "

        Homework is where the teachers get some feedback on how well the lessons are being absorbed. No homework would mean more in-class assignments which takes away from instruction time.

        My aunt showed me how insane mandatory deadlines were by requiring teachers to submit the marks for all of their students along with at least a paragraph of comments just days after the end of the school year. It really meant that instruction had to end a week prior to the last day of attendance. It still left her with little time to write anything meaningful. She also had to have a lesson plan for that last week just to make sure the kids were kept busy so they wouldn't get out of hand. These were kids around 10. The next school year there would be some other mandate from the state/school meant to improve grades that just took up more of the teacher's time to comply with and more standardized tests that had to be administered. After a bunch of that it's easy to see why some teachers just teach for the tests. They are left with no choice.

        I don't think it's worthwhile to ban teachers from putting extra effort into their classes. The really good teachers are often the ones that do.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          @MachDiamond - I'm not aware of any employer who requires their staff to do homework...

          I don't see an issue with more in-class/in-school assignments - the school simply needs to restructure the way they deliver. I suspect your aunt taught at a typical state school that provides minimal support to their teaching staff, hence why she was having the problems you describe.

          I'll just say my local school has consistently been one of the top performing comprehensives for the last 20 odd years, so I suggest they must be doing something right, particularly as they have a below average staff turnover.

          >I don't think it's worthwhile to ban teachers from putting extra effort into their classes.

          Not talking about a ban, just that the school doesn't demand teaching staff to put in extra hours just to do perform their normal duties, they simply provide more hours for those staff to choice how they wish to spend them - everyone knew when a teacher did an evening class during lockdown, it was because the teacher cared and so got high attendance.

  15. doublelayer Silver badge

    Maybe I'm just stupid

    I can't blame remote schooling for it, but I'm having some reading comprehension problems with the poll. What sides do "for" and "against" stand for?

    For: I am for technology as a solution?

    or

    For: I am for the point made by this article (against technology as a solution)?

    Every time I think one is more likely, I think for a few seconds and quickly lose that assumption.

    New poll: this isn't a good question format and the choices should be made into whole sentences. Select for or against.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Maybe I'm just stupid

      In my - admittedly imperfect - recollection, all the Reg poll questions have been phrased in a somewhat nuclear way.

      1. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Bronze badge

        Re: Maybe I'm just stupid

        Shouldn't they wait until both arguments are made before opening the polls?

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Maybe I'm just stupid

          I suggested that with the "what hacker means" poll. They didn't agree. Then again, I think they should have one debate, with all positions in the same place, and a single poll at the bottom rather than four polls for each day.

        2. Pirate Dave Silver badge
          Pirate

          Re: Maybe I'm just stupid

          Agreed. How do we know what the counter-argument is until we've seen it?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Maybe I'm just stupid

            Counter-argument?

            Where were you in 2016 when it seemed we had two sides only hearing what they wanted to hear from their own side and la la la'ing any one who offered a counter-argument.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Having raised kids, been a kid, and am watching grandkids - they key is not just the tech, but the home environment. A dedicated parent focused on being the teacher in residence is essential. But just as many people would make a lousy doctor or programmer, many of the parents or adults in residence are not capable of being good teachers, or they would go for the jobs. If the adults lack teaching acumen, technical familiarity, don't have access to the training resources given to the school teachers, or understand the subjects being covered, home school is for naught.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Having raised kids, been a kid, and am watching grandkids - they key is not just the tech, but the home environment. A dedicated parent focused on being the teacher in residence is essential.

      This is it. The high achievers do most of their learning outside the school gates.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      " don't have access to the training resources given to the school teachers, or understand the subjects being covered, home school is for naught."

      I disagree. The parents don't have to be great teachers of every subject. Just showing their interest in their kids doing well in school can be huge.

      After my parents divorced and my mom went to school to get her nursing degree, we turned her coursework into a dinner time contest. I wound up doing better in her chemistry classwork at age 8 than she did. It was a game to try and get ahead on her lessons. I still know the periodic table well from memory from all of the drills we did. She wasn't teaching us, we were her flash cards.

  17. Old Used Programmer Silver badge

    Who at home knows enough about the tech?

    Similar to AC, above.

    You can supply all the tech in the world, but unless either the kid, or someone at the kid's house, knows enough about it, none of it is going to function very well. In addition, at least where I live (California) the tech being foisted off on the kids is--to be charitable--less than ideal. The local school district issued Chromebooks. Nothing to write home about for CPUs, not much DRAM, limited to wireless connections, and locked down to the point that there is no way to add useful additional functions, such as a printer access.

    To that end, I set up (and supported) my grandson's use of a Pi4B-4GB with a camera and headset adapter. The Pi was connected by wire to the router. That way, I had remote VNC access to be sure he was paying attention to his classes. Also enabled me to give him printer access or any other additional programs that might be needed.

    1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

      Re: Who at home knows enough about the tech?

      It's not just kids and schooling. It's was almost physically painful helping the Marketing and Customer Service departments get setup to work from home last year. My <deity>, how can people that deficient walk around unsupervised?

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Who at home knows enough about the tech?

        " how can people that deficient walk around unsupervised?"

        Many people only rise to the level of their incompetence. Take HR staff, for instance.......

        1. jake Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Who at home knows enough about the tech?

          "Take HR. Please."

          FTFY :-)

  18. Chatter

    Jeff

    Multiple studies show that children learn just as much sitting on fallen logs as in an airconditioned sterile class room. Technology, as in Computers, are tools. They can help you get there like a car or help you smash your fingers like a hammer. It is all in how good the tool is and how it is implemented. I am willing to bet I can get any group of kids from a third world country, that does not remove the need for families, to a higher standard of learning and true knowledge than the best teacher you can find, attempting to teach children that are raised in any of the first world nations that have removed the need for families to get a retirement.

    It works like this:

    1) give everyone the ability to get a retirement, guaranteed, just work for 20 years.

    a) they do not need children to finance their retirement

    b) kids are now just status cymbals

    2) give everyone the idea that getting that retirement is far more important than the kids you are raising

    a) Job first kids second no exceptions

    b) Belonging to the worker organizations is second kids third

    3) Getting more benefits that other people pay for becomes a priority

    a) I am not responsible for me, YOU ARE!!!!

    b) sense I am not responsible for me, I am definitely not responsible for the kids

    i) this is why we pay teachers, I AM NOT A TEACHER!!! I did not sign up for this!

    4) Each generation gets worse

    a) We learn what we live, and then we live what we learned. Only we get a little more extreme in our ideas.

    5) No one is ultimately responsible

    a) eventually we reach a point where we point the finger at everyone else

    b) Fare becomes I win you lose.

    6) A smaller and smaller portion of the population works

    a) As more and more votes are for receiving other peoples money.

    b) There is no reason to work, I simply get that check in the mail.

    7)The public coffers go dry

    a) as more and more are collecting the social safety net and fewer are paying into the Social Safety Net.

    8) the public votes for more power for those willing to spend others money

    a) again more votes from those that do not want to work, are scared they cannot work, wish to work outside the system and collect system money

    9) Those willing to do so become political elites that cannot be voted out of office

    10) I believe you will find this is all laid out quite nicely in "The Communist Manifesto". I do believe it is still in print.

    You see in every country, though out the history of Earth, that has a social safety net we run into the same issue. But only to those covered by the safety net.

    It happened to Egypt, Greece, Rome, Europe, Middle East, Russia, US, Mayans, etc.

    First the government supports the elderly that did not have children (generalization only), children become status symbols. Those status symbols do not know how or cannot work. Then we support those unable to support themselves. Children grow up without an understanding of what a job can and/or will do for you, above a paycheck. These same children do not get the attention that a full time parent can give. Because again, I do not need them to retire. The group unable to support themselves grows tot he point that it is over 30% of the society. We have entered the me me society. Parents do not care what the kids do so long as the do not embarrass me. The problem is not mine, I am not responsible you are, there for it is your fault for making me look bad. There for my kids are perfect it is you and your kids that are causing the problem. At this point kids do not care because MOM and DAD do not care.

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Jeff

      > b) kids are now just status cymbals

      Yah, we thought so too, which is why we named our two little dahlings Zildjian and Sabian.

      1. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
        Pint

        Re: Jeff

        This former percussionist sees what you did there.

        Loved my Zildjians and a couple of Paistes somewhere down the line.

        Cider on the house.

        Boom, tish, rattle, crash.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Jeff

          He couldn't have named one of the little darlings Paiste ... not in this modern era. Can you imagine the field day the neighborhood curtain twitchers and namby-pambys would have?

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Jeff

        Nice. I named mine Crash and Ride. We thought about a little Splash but decided against it. China would never have been on the menu.

    2. Filippo Silver badge

      Re: Jeff

      Having kids as a retirement plan sounds a lot more "ME ME ME" than anything else you've described. I hope that most people who have kids do that out of love, but even having them by accident would be more ethical than that.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not the tech, it's the approach

    I did a flipped course (online lectures and assignment, in-class discussion and assistance) a few years ago, when it was just starting to be popular and well before it was forced upon us. The results were pretty spectacular: most of the students preferred the online lectures and assignments and even the worst performing students were producing A quality work. The best students were successfully learning about twice as much material as normal.

    But you can't just do a Zoom lecture to a bunch of students and expect things to be wonderful. It was a completely different approach. The university I was teaching at held regular workshops and seminars so that the teachers could learn to do it successfully.

    Instead of having one hour(ish) long lecture, break it up into a series of small topics. About 5 minutes is all that anyone (even adults) can really pay attention for, so make videos that are short and sweet. You don't have to repeat yourself constantly either, because the students can always rewind and rewatch the part they missed. Extra examples or perspectives on the topic are great though. Separating out that extra content means that students can approach it at their own pace though. I was able to cover a ton of extra content that I never had time for and the entire set of course videos is still far less than the in-class lecture time. That meant lots of time for those cool extras that always got dropped when teaching in person.

    The assignments were also designed so that students could learn from them, instead of just being told if they're right or wrong. Generally, students were expected to get all of the questions on the assignment correct in order to earn credit for the assignment. But they could retry the assignment as many times as they wanted. The questions also provided feedback (whenever possible) to help point the student in the right direction. That meant that students often got better feedback on their assignments than if they'd been graded by hand.

    Other stuff was pretty standard: Give the students individual attention when they're struggling. Answer questions in person or over e-mail.

    I did have the benefit that I was teaching a computer science course at a university, so students could pretty well be expected to already have a computer or at least know how to access one. We also didn't have to be picky about students showing up "in person," they were expected to be reasonably effective at managing their own time. I also had access to a nice recording room that I could use to shoot the videos. Oh, and it took about a year to prepare all the videos and assignments.

    So, used correctly, tech can certainly help students catch up and excel. But it takes a different approach and one that's hard to implement in a rush.

  20. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

    As I see it, the REAL issue is reliance on Technology. The pandemic pushed everyone into using Technology for things normally it was not used for. In the case of learning, prior to the advent of computers and the Internet, everyone had the same access to resources. Everyone had a text book, everyone had access to the Library, everyone had access to the teacher. In today's world, when students are given an assignment, you have some students in the lower economic scale that have a text book and possibly the Library, then another student, higher economic scale, who has access to a computer and the internet. It is obvious that this creates an unequal learning environment. This problem get exacerbated by incompetent administrators who think throwing tech at the problem will fix it without any thought nor plan on how to get everyone to utilize the tech effectively.

    On the flip side, what we had here in the US was Parents looking over the shoulders of their children and being completely aghast at the drivel (political in a lot of cases) that their children were being taught. And also at the utter incompetence of the teachers conducting the classes.

    We all like to think that teaching is a noble profession, which it is, but unfortunately here in the US, when you fail at everything else, well, then you go into Education.

  21. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

    Y

    I've taught, myself, many moons ago.

    A thousand up-votes.

  22. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Issues

    Having taught college level classes in person, one of the tricks a good teacher learns to how to scan the room for the expressions and read those expressions. Also, questions are heard by everyone as is the answer. With e-learning one will need to learn, as a teacher, how to determine when students are confused, etc. Also, how material is presented will need to be modified; the traditional lecture will not work as effectively. Given many teachers are not truly computer savvy, modifying teaching methods could be problematic.

    The other issue for LFH is whether the student has the necessary infrastructure to properly do it. This is more than the box itself but the connection, space, etc. And are the parents supervising the children to make sure they are actually paying attention; this might be a real problem for the lower income families. Lower income families often need both parents to work outside the home so supervising the kids at home is a bit problematic even with older kids.

    There is a variant model for LFH done over here which is 'home schooling' were the parents are more active in the education of the kids. But the parents have to use various resources (mostly online now) to teach their kids. Not up on the details of this but does seem to be effective.

  23. JohnG

    Excellent online learning by local primary academy

    My 8 year old son is at a local academy school and I reckon their efforts to provide continuity during lockdown were excellent - and this, despite having to cope with key worker children from other schools being dumped on them by the local council. For a group for people who were not IT specialists, I could not be happier with their work.

    With two classes per year, they split teachers in each year group between an in-school class and an online class, using Teams. Children unable to work online from home (parents working, no suitable device, other home issues) were allowed into school. Eventually, the school were able to organise tablets for children who needed them.

    In the online classes, cameras were required to be on and (because things started to get a bit too slack) children were asked to wear school uniform. Worksheets were available to download but the teacher would always keep pages on the screen for those who could not print them out. The interactive nature of the class run via video conferencing made the experience as close as it could be to in school learning.

    A positive aspect of online learning was that children were able to talk with each other during break times or call each other after school - which was a big deal during lockdown. My son and his school friends became quite adept at organising play via video conferencing.

    Of course, this was a primary school and I would think that secondary school learning is probably significantly more difficult to run online.

    Like others have said, I don't think technology increases the educational divide but the lack of technology does. But this should be a driver to improve access to technology, not constrain the use of technology as a means to level the playing field.

  24. msobkow Bronze badge

    A boring presentation will be a boring presentation with or without technology. I dare say it sounds like some of the teachers feed off their students immediate response and feedback and blame their OWN boring on-screen presence on that lack of feedback.

    There is nothing stopping a teacher from making wise cracks and engaging the class the way they did in-person. The problem is most people do NOT act the same way in front of a camera that they do standing in front of an audience. Only the most professional of actors can pretend to show emotions and reactions without some form of feedback from an audience to let them know they're "getting through."

    I'm actually kind of glad the kids are getting bored. Maybe it will break them of their texting and video game habits if they get sick of computers and cell phones. :)

  25. Snowy Silver badge
    Holmes

    Is a a technology problemq

    If you do not have a desk to put your laptop on where would you do you homework if you did not have the laptop?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021