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The New Zoom Bombers? Teachers Report Parents Disrupting Online Lessons

In a recent piece from The Geek Journal notes that teachers are relying on parents' involvement during remote instruction in many ways, yet some teachers say parental involvement is sometimes disruptive. Examples include parents asking questions during live, online lessons, prompting their children to speak, or even texting teachers during lessons.

Survey Shows Parental Support for Online Learning

Despite the challenges, many parents and educators are seeing the benefits of virtual instruction and hoping that some level of online learning continues after the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report from the nonprofit Center for Democracy and Technology. However, almost half of teachers say they have not been trained to safeguard students' data during this period of remote instruction. Just 4 in 10 parents have said their school has explained how it protects student data. In focus groups, students also expressed little concern about data privacy and security, despite highlighting incidents where video calls were hacked or teachers exposed students’ grades while sharing their screens with the class.

Helping Parents, Teachers and Kids Understand and Use Digital Safety Platforms

Does your school or district use a digital safety platform to monitor student communications? Jim Gray, executive director of teaching and learning at Vancouver Public Schools in Washington State, writes that he thinks there are ways for schools to use student safety platforms to help develop students into better digital citizens. In a blog post, Gray offers five strategies, including sharing with students (and their parents) that students’ online communication and actions are monitored. He also advocates that schools and parents turn questionable decisions in online communications into learning opportunities rather than "gotcha" moments.

The Challenges of Remote Learning

The challenges of remote learning are taking a variety of twists and turns for school districts. One Florida district even went as far as to create an "Online Netiquette" video for parents and students to address unexpected online behavior by parents, such as advising them to be fully dressed if they will be seen on camera. The district has listed a number of struggles they have been dealing with as well, including technical difficulties that eat into teacher’s class time and prep, challenges teaching students with disabilities in a remote platform, and concerns about cheating.

Digital Literacy Challenges Remote Learning

According to a Bridgewater State University survey of more than 700 teachers in 40 states, the lack of digital literacy skills of both students and their parents caused problems with remote learning last spring. Heather Pacheco-Guffrey, an associate professor of science education, said data showed students and parents often have the skills to consume technology but not to create with it, such as using Google Docs to collaborate and joining Zoom calls.

How can you help your kids? Ask them to create things on the computer – books, flipbooks, cartons, cards, craft projects, brochures, maps, menus and so much more. And remember, just because it comes out of the printer, doesn’t mean it has to be done “done.” Think about ways for what they create on the computer be displayed and distributed, beyond using technology or social media. You want your kids to be producers and distributors with the help of technology, not just passive recipients.

Will Virtual Students Be Left Behind in Hybrid Education Model?

Students who are sticking with distance learning while some of their classmates return to school may be missing out, as teachers have less time for Zoom sessions and other remote instruction activities, some parents and educators say. Parent Jessica Savage says her son, who is in special education, has struggled with reduced interaction with his class, and school board president Michelle Fullhart says that she is concerned about equity for students who remain 100% virtual.

Why is Online Learning so Tiring?

Learning online can cause students to feel anxious, worried or tired – something being called "Zoom fatigue" -- says Brenda Wiederhold, a licensed clinical psychologist. As it turns out, live Zoom calls aren’t as live as we think they are. In an interview, Wiederhold says that our brains pick up on the fact that what is happening in a Zoom call is delayed -even if for just a millisecond – and our brains look for a way to overcome the lack of synchrony. There is also a tendency to multitask as we are always looking around the screen, searching people’s faces for cues as to how they are feeling or what they might be thinking. All these heads floating on the screen can also trigger a type of fight-or-flight response in the brain.

Discipline On Zoom?

Teachers who are trying to recreate learning in a physical classroom during this virtual change from “normal” school are finding that it just isn’t the same. But what about discipline during virtual learning? During remote learning, educators should focus on teaching and supporting students, and not on disciplining them, writes Aaricka Washington, an education reporter and former educator. Elizabeth Hanif, a high-school math teacher on Long Island, asserts that some class Zoom rules were not necessary and advises that educators form relationships with students to change behavior. What is your school doing about discipline during virtual learning? What do you think should be done?

Homework Gap Threatens Remote Learning

About 17 million school-age children -- including one-third of students in Black, Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native households -- do not have at-home Internet access, and 7.3 million lack access to a computer at home, according to an analysis from the Urban League, UnidosUS, the National Indian Education Association and the Alliance for Excellent Education. The groups are calling for $6.8 billion from the federal E-rate program to be directed to close the "homework gap."

Pandemic Fuels Demand for Back-to-School Digital Devices

Families are expecting to spend more on back-to-school shopping this year, partly because of e-learning tech needs spurred by the pandemic, a survey finds. Laptops, tablets, speakers and headphones are likely to be big sellers, with the average K-12 family expected to spend nearly $800.