Hate is a strong word, but everyone has things that they dislike. The explosion of e-learning has left many teachers frustrated trying to determine what is going on? In this post, we will explore some of the significant changes that teachers hate about elearning.
The greatest enemy in e-learning for most teachers is technology. Everything must be in some sort of electronic format. Forums, chats, assignments, videos, powerpoints, etc., all must be upload to the mysterious LMS (learning management system.
Speaking of the LMS, it could Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas more something else. It could be something offered by Google, Microsoft, Zoom, loom, or else for video streaming. The average teacher has to learn some of this technology in a relatively short amount of time. However, all of the things mentioned so far relate to software. There are also concerns involving hardware.
Is the internet fast enough for streaming? Is the camera compatible? Is there a way to write on the screen? Many teachers also cut corners when it comes to their own personal technology devices. The laptop from 2012 problem won’t be helpful for teaching online (I’ve seen this attempted). This means spending money to update dead tech to teach in the 21st century.
Another problem is that if the larger institution doesn’t have a clear plan for teaching online, it leads to everybody doing whatever works for them. This torments students who have to adjust to 30 different websites for grades, ten different websites for videos, five websites for uploading material, etc. Each teacher borrows from some other teacher a neat idea, and it leads to an assortment of unique styles that tortures everyone connected to the institution.
The second great enemy of online teaching for teachers is planning. This is especially true for experienced teachers. When a teacher starts to become more experience, there is an immediate drop in planning because you just “know” what to do based on prior planning. However, online teaching is not as forgiving as improvisational teaching based on experience.
Units have to be planned and set up on the website in advance. Links must be there, along with instructions and additional resources. This cannot be set up during a live teaching session as it must be there preferably before the semester. What makes things even more frustrating is that the planning is slightly different in the context of online teaching because of how communication takes place, which is discussed below.
For someone who no longer plans or who was always bad at planning, this is discouraging. It takes a great deal of discipline to look ahead and plan in such a manner when you are used to a more informal way of doing things.
The human element of teaching is almost totally lost when teaching online. The looks of confusion, the smiles, the laughter, even discussion are lost partially online. Discussion is lost because we all know what happens when more than one person talks over the internet. This loss of interaction makes teaching and learning difficult for the teacher. It is hard to tell if the students are learning because many of the cues that we have used in the past as formative assessment are hard to use in the online context.
Another problem is the need for everything to be in the text. Whether it’s messaging, assignments, or grading, communication is through typing and not as much through talking. This can be draining for even the most enthusiastic typists.
Returning to planning, a teacher will often lean on student questions and discussions to clarify things, whether in the classroom or outside of it. For example, a student might come to your office, or you bump into them in the hallway. Whatever you reexplain is often shared with others. These random moments of informal communication are lost, and this obscures the communication process in social interaction is not possible.
Adapting is part of life, but the pace at which e-learning has become a standard teaching tool is remarkable. As teachers struggle with this new experience, there are naturally going to be concerns and complaints.