Teachers & The Transition to Technology: How You Can Help

April 02, 2020

Joshua Hollin is a 22-year-old Singer/Songwriter who recently graduated from Florida Atlantic University with his Bachelors in Commercial Music Composition. In 2017, Josh initiated “Channel Kindness Radio,” a reoccurring podcast series featured on channelkindness.org, which centered around nonprofit organizations and people who are actively making a difference in their communities. In the future, Josh wishes to combine his passion for music, marketing, and media, in a way that makes a difference.

This story took place in United States

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As many schools and universities continue to close due to the coronavirus outbreak, teachers and professors alike are left with no other option but to transition to online/remote instruction. While these online tools provide excellent solutions and make it possible for teachers to reach their students during this global health crisis, there hasn’t been much time for these teachers (aka superheroes), to learn how to use these programs efficiently. This lack of training can leave both students and teachers stressed, confused, and overall, disconnected.

Picture this. You just spent your entire weekend preparing your lesson plan. Your calendar of due dates have been filled out, your google classroom headers have been decorated to perfection, and all of your class assignments have been uploaded to your school’s online classroom portal. You wake up ready to take on the day right from the comfort of your own living room, but instead, you are inundated with 17 emails from parents whose child can’t seem to access the file, as the file is in an incompatible format. What do you do now?

I had the privilege of being raised by two incredible teachers. My mother is an elementary & middle school STEM/Spanish teacher, and my father is a high school instrumental music teacher. Growing up, I witnessed how both of them implemented technology in their instruction, assignments, and projects, and how they each have depended on these applications and programs to help their students reach their full potential. While many teachers may have had experience with these tools, many have not, and for a variety of reasons. Maybe your school has not invested in technology until right now. Perhaps despite having the technology available, you’ve just never been given the proper training. No matter what the reason, we are all in this together, and by helping each other, we can make the in-person to online learning experience, a smooth, effective one.

If you or someone you know is struggling with online learning, try these suggestions:

If You’re A Student, Reach Out to Your Teachers:         
If you are a Gen-Z/millennial, chances are, you’re pretty good at troubleshooting/figuring things out. And if not, chances are you’re pretty good at googling. Reach out to your teachers and ask if they need any help with anything on the tech end. It could be something as simple as refreshing a page or switching browsers. Many online applications such as google docs have resources like this one, that explain some common instructions.

Take it to the Tube:   
YouTube tutorials are a great way to provide step-by-step instructions. Need to know how to resize columns and rows in google sheets? Don’t worry. There’s a video for that. The Youtube Channel Teachers Tech also includes all the how to’s from how to use Google Classroom to how to teach an online class via Zoom. If you’re a student, consider making a how-to tech video or sending a link to one to help your teacher out!

Check Out These Free Online Learning Resources:
Apple is offering free consultations to help make the most of online learning. You can learn more about that here.
-A coalition of education organizations developed Learning Keeps Going, a website that hosts tips, webinars and resource lists for transitioning to digital learning. It also contains a help desk for educators and a hotline for parents and students.
-Additionally, education technology companies have stepped forward to help educators reach students in virtual ways – be sure to check out over these free resources to help schools and teachers with online learning during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Check the FAQ’s or Contact Your School’s IT Department:
This may seem like a stretch, but you’d be surprised how many of these online programs have a list of their most common problems/frequently asked questions on their main website. They may also have a chat/support email that you can reach them at. If all else fails, try reaching out to your school’s IT contact. While not every school has one, they may know somebody who can help just as well. 

Remember to Take Care of Your Emotional and Mental Health:
This is a challenging time, and it’s important to remember to check-in with yourself and evaluate how you’re feeling.  Check out these tips for managing anxiety for you and your school community, or check out VirusAnxiety.com, a site built by Mental Health America and Shine that includes a wealth of research-backed articles, meditations, and access to mental health experts. If you know someone who is a teacher, show your support by reminding them you’re there for them and encourage them to take time to self-care.

The Most Important PartRemember to Be Kind!
If you’re a teacher, you must be patient and kind with yourself, and if you’re a student or parent, you must do the same. One great way to spread some kindness during this difficult time is to write a thank-you note to your favorite teacher. Know that teachers are learning what takes months to master in just weeks, and that this is a big adjustment for everyone involved. We will get through this together, and will help it “click” for each other, one click at a time.

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