The Post-COVID-19 Impact on Distance Learning for New Zealand Teachers

The Post-COVID-19 Impact on Distance Learning for New Zealand Teachers

David Parsons, Tim Gander, Karen Baker, Darcy Vo
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/IJOPCD.295955
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This article reports on a survey of New Zealand teachers, designed to assess their experiences of distance learning during the COVID-19 lockdowns. The survey gathered detailed quantitative and qualitative data from 31 schoolteachers who had previously experienced professional development in digital learning. The questions addressed many areas of practice, including the issues faced by teachers in the move to online distance learning, the impacts on relationships with students, families, and other staff, the impacts on workload and practice, and the experience of working intensively with digital technologies. The results suggested that this group of relatively well-prepared teachers were able to effectively move their practice online in a short period of time and, in most cases, to maintain the relationships with, and the learning of, their students. However, there were some indications in the data that learners from the Māori community faced resource challenges in successfully transitioning to online distance learning.
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Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many aspects of society including education. Schools in most countries have been forced into physical closure to curb the spread of the virus and many teachers have been required to move to online/remote delivery. Most countries had to rapidly upgrade access to devices and infrastructure to support online learning. However, this was often inadequate and did not support the needs of teachers or learners throughout the lockdowns (Chuah & Mohamad, 2020; Kabir et al., 2020; Väljataga et al., 2020).

In Italy, surveys created by ASLERD (Association for Smart Learning Ecosystems and Regional Development) were developed to gather the perspectives of teachers, lecturers, learners and their families on the impacts of the pandemic on teaching and learning. From these surveys, it was evident that university students made the transition from physical campus-based learning to virtual settings in a positive way, which in turn raised the challenge for universities to adapt the way in which they teach (Giovannella, 2021). Väljataga et al. (2020), using a different survey instrument, found that the response was adequate to have the basic conditions of learning fulfilled, but many teaching staff attempted to replicate face to face learning in an online space, which did not lead to the pedagogical transformation required to teach effectively at a distance. In the secondary sector, schoolteachers believed their digital skills developed and they felt a greater sense of agency through lockdowns, despite an increase in workload and a loss of contact with 6-10% of learners (Giovannella, Passarelli & Persico, 2020). The recent literature focuses on survival rather than calculated and meaningful development of online teaching pedagogy. While the skills and confidence of teachers increased, provision of training courses to develop digital literacy was found to be vital in transforming pedagogy to be adaptive and effective at distance (Giovannella, Passarelli & Persico, 2020; Giovannella & Passarelli, 2020; Kabir et al., 2020; Väljataga et al., 2020). An important contextual factor has been limited access to technology and the internet, such that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased digital inequalities (Carrillo & Flores, 2020). It is often assumed that contemporary distance learning is the delivery of learning through ICT tools from a geographic distance. However, it can also encompass a socio-economic and cultural distance (Traxler, 2018) which can add to the complexity.

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