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The introduction of distance learning in New Jersey during the COVID-19 pandemic was accidental, with insufficient resources, unfairly delivered, contributed to student and faculty stress, and could exacerbate digital and social inequality, according to a Rutgers study.


By analyzing responses from structured interviews with a sample of 21 K-12 teachers of public schools, researchers found that students in low-income school districts experience inequalities in online teaching and learning opportunities compared to students from middle- and more affluent areas. An open access study was published in Journal of the Association of Information Science and Technology.

“While the pandemic has created challenging emergency distance learning environments for students from different income groups, teachers from low-income areas have reported more problems in students’ constant access to work, working computers, network connectivity and bandwidth issues. , and about the gaps in previous students and families, digital literacy is essential for the effective use of e-learning tools, ”said Rebecca Reynolds, an associate professor at the Rutgers School of Communication and Information and lead author of the study.

“At all income levels, primary school teachers also reported that younger students had difficulty using available e-learning technologies without significant intervention from home caregivers,” she said. “In part, this was because the design of corporate e-learning platforms, such as Google Classroom, which were used almost universally, did not meet the development needs of K-12 students for structured beginner learning.”

In the spring of 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic blockade, 584 school districts required to develop emergency distance learning plans. Although funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act have made a significant contribution to the purchase of technology, in addition to the list of PDF offers for online learning platformsdistricts received little advice from the state on the structure of online classes, technology choices, or payment for licenses for online services.

This has left district administrators and K-12 teachers essentially self-developing lesson plans and deciding how to conduct them, Reynolds said. In some cases, teachers even paid each other out of pocket for lesson plan recommendations and online learning tips.

The complication of the transition to distance learning was already present digital divide. In 2017, nearly half of New Jersey families earning $ 20,000 or less were without internet accesscompared to 6 percent of households earning $ 75,000 or more, according to the U.S. Census.

These gaps persisted early in the pandemic and created a background of digital inequality for the introduction of predominantly online distance learning, Reynolds said.

Other key findings include:

  • Compared to higher-income areas, teachers in low-income areas appear to have reported greater attendance gaps as a barrier to online learning, reporting absenteeism ranging from 30 to 50 percent at the time of initial closure.
  • During this period, the shortage of devices, especially in low-income areas, requires children in families to have shared school laptops (one per family).
  • Excessive reliance on online learning technologies has not been tested for support effectiveness student learning processes and outcomes.
  • Increased anxiety and stress among teachers and students.

“We hope that every district of the state is conducting a retrospective review of what they have learned and what they need to do differently, including consulting with experts in case we find ourselves in a similar situation,” Reynolds said. “By consulting with experts to use targeted, evidence-based solutions for e-learning, they can learn some things about improving e-learning opportunities that are also offered in normal personal learning settings.”


Rural school districts are returning to full-time education faster than urban ones


Additional information:
Rebecca Reynolds and others, prospects for the digital divide, critical and crisis informatics on K-12 emergency distance learning during a pandemic, Journal of the Association of Information Science and Technology (2022). DOI: 10.1002 / asi.24654

Citation: Distance learning during the New Jersey School District Pandemic in New Jersey (2022, May 18) was received on May 18, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-05-remote-pandemic-disadvantages -students-jersey .html

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