To a wanna-be golfer like me, traditional teaching is the driving range; online teaching is a gorgeous 18-hole golf course, where I can frolic and play for hours. Ironically, it is the technology that holds me back to the front nine.
One part that is maddening about online teaching is the online part. Reliable, stable internet service is not a reality in my world. I cannot do online classes at home because the WiFi connection drops every so often. It is just a little better at my school but I still get disconnected in and out of my online class. My students used to ask in the class chat: "What happened to Ms. Flores? Where is she? Are we supposed to go?" Now they are used to it and just wait until I reappear.
My students also take turns appearing and disappearing in class. Sometimes it is their WiFi connection. Sometimes it is their devices.
I am not the only teacher who experiences this. It seems to be the norm across all users. It saps my energy, and the main reason I am exhausted at the end of class. I do not know where the problem lies. Is it the island infrastructure? Is it a case of you-get-what-you-pay-for? Is it island overload? Or simply poor service?
Educational technology has probably been blossoming for many years but I had only become involved in it in the last four years. There are so many online resources available now to any teacher who is willing to learn. In fact, part of the frustration for me is the bombardment of digital tools available to us. It is the Pinterest syndrome— so many options and possibilities. Who has the time to learn and implement them all?
Because of connectivity issues — mine and my students’ – I keep my online class simple, without all the bells and whistles.
Another frustrating aspect of online teaching is the variety of devices my students use. Some of the work I assign present themselves differently depending on the capabilities of their devices. If I taught online classes with some face-to-face interaction, I can physically inspect a student’s device, figure out and show which icons to click to answer and submit an assigned work. I will be grateful when students apply for and receive laptops from the government and there will be uniformity on how to answer or submit work.
Though I whine and complain about the unfulfilled promises of technology for online teaching, I do not dwell on them. The best part of online teaching is teaching. Teaching remains a joy and delight. My class can enjoy creative lesson presentations that are far superior to anything I can come up with. We can literally explore the world through virtual field trips. I am doing my part to prepare them for jobs that do not yet exist.
My students are such savvy videographers now, having submitted several required videos for my class. Through these videos I discovered two good singers with crystal sweet voices, amazing artists and writers, three home chefs, a kid who will make your head spin with his knowledge of U.S. military hardware, several Roblox experts, future YouTube stars, students who beat me in coding puzzles, twins who present topic videos using verbal gymnastics and parents who move heaven and earth daily for their children. And for a few hours a day my students’ eager, shining, happy, faces grace my screen. Though we take off in fits and starts, we do take off. How cool is that?
Jeni Ann Flores is an educator, blogger, and freelance writer. You may read more of her writing at https://teacherseditionflores.blogspot.com/. You may reach her at email@example.com