The need for consistency in distance learning

Teachers should stick to one online platform for coursework

May 15, 2020

The unforeseeable implications of the coronavirus pandemic have led to the closures of schools and universities across the nation — sending students home. This reality leaves both students and faculty to adapt to a new learning environment that has been aptly dubbed ‘distance learning’. With the advancement of technology, teaching capabilities are progressing every day and there are now numerous online platforms available for teachers to use during this unique time in history. Unfortunately, the lack of organization among teachers at Bonita Vista High (BVH) in regards to the usage of multiple online teaching platforms at once, poses a challenge for students. Creating an exclusive and primary distance learning online platform for students should be prioritized by BVH teachers.

Jenny Anderson, a senior reporter for Quartz News, stated that “According to the United Nations, school closures in 13 countries to contain the spread of Covid-19 are disrupting the education of 290 million students globally, “a figure without precedent.” That has left millions of teachers, administrators, and students at the mercy of online learning, much of which is unfamiliar, and untested at such scale.” 

Moreover, The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has constructed an online guide with dozens of links to distance learning apps and other resources. 

Some of the most-used apps by teachers at BVH include Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, Canvas, and Jupiter. Consequently, it can be both stressful and overwhelming for students to have to keep up with multiple platforms and multiple streams of information, with some coming through email, and others through the online platforms stated above. 

The problem persists on a global scale, according to a research study administered by Hapara, an organization in charge of creating resources to support educators, in April of 2019 they found that “On an average day, a student has to navigate between as many as 10 different platforms—in a single class! Students expressed frustration with not knowing where to find assignments.” 

Additionally, the study also discovered that “Students were frequently off-task or generally confused about what they were supposed to be doing—signaling a lack of clarity and meaning for students. They often didn’t know what to do because they were just trying to keep up with all of the platforms they were required to use.”

Based on The League for Innovation in the Community College, an international nonprofit organization with a mission to cultivate innovation in the community college environment, obstacles in implementing quality online instruction include the “design and organization of an environment that appeals to and engages students through communication and feedback.”

In a study conducted by professors at Wake Technical Community College to determine student satisfaction during online courses 2016, the study revealed that coherence in the online courses’ design and organization proved to be a key component of students’ satisfaction. They continue to say that “the more organized a course is, the more easily they can find all the content and assignments. For students who have difficulty focusing and maintaining attention, course design and organization play a key role in success or failure. Being able to spend the majority of their time completing work rather than looking for what to do is vital to students’ success.”

Instead of having students jump from one online platform to another, BVH teachers must promote efficient design and organization for distance learning. BVH faculty can do this by choosing a single platform for storing assignments, collecting homework and posting announcements. In other words, developing a single and central hub should be a priority. As a result, this will eliminate the confusion and frustration that is happening with today’s students from Bonita. When teachers are able to design their classes well, it would foster better student time management skills.

Indeed, the remainder of the school year has been disorganized and filled with clouds of uncertainty on an unprecedented scale. Inevitably, there will be challenges students will face during distance learning, due to the absence of discipline and organization concerning the usage of multiple online teaching platforms. Luckily, the BVH community can overcome this obstacle by advocating and prioritizing the use of a single online teaching platform. 

As Amy Briggs, the president of Student Achievement Partners puts “There is a bit of a risk here in fragmentation, [but] ensuring continuity and coherence is essential.”

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