Home-based Learning Survey Highlights
Recently, the Department of Education and Lifelong Learning conducted a Home-based Learning Survey to seek input from parents/guardians, teachers, administrators, and students on key issues related to the delivery of education on-line, and challenges resulting from learning at home. Survey items probed access to technology and the internet; communication among teachers, students and parents; student comfort and confidence levels with home learning; and concerns about child care. About 5,800 people completed the survey. The Department is now examining the responses to determine the most effective ways to deliver education if we continue to be challenged by COVID-19 in the 2020-2021 school year.
While technology is a concern, the vast majority of those who completed the survey believed that students have the devices and internet service they require to access and complete their assignments on-line and from home. However, there is some concern about sharing of devices in homes that have more than one child in the system.
As might be expected, comfort with using technology to complete assignments increased with grade levels. Whereas, the responses indicated that just over half of students in grades K to 3 were comfortable using technology to complete assignments, this increased to almost 85 percent for students in grades 10 to 12. Unfortunately, confidence about completing home-based assignments appeared to be quite low across all grade levels, and suggests that while young people are very adept with certain aspects of technology, learning from home and completing assignments on-line will require practice, as is the case with attaining any new skill. Also, about half of parents/guardians who completed the survey expressed concerns about their own ability to use technology, and believed they could benefit from training to enable them to support their children’s on-line efforts.
The survey also indicated that it was difficult to motivate students to complete their home-based assignments, and a substantial number of comments suggested that teacher expectations should be well defined and consistent across the system, with regular on-line meetings with all students. Nevertheless, about two-thirds of those who completed the survey were very positive about teacher and student interactions during the school closures, and about three-quarters were very positive about teacher and parent/guardian interactions.
Availability of textbooks and other learning materials was found to be challenging during COVID-19. The suddenness of the shutdown of the education system, and the stay-at-home orders to protect Islanders, made it difficult to get these resources to all students in a safe and timely fashion. If another wave of COVID-19 occurs, the system will have to be more prepared to address this issue.
Over half of those surveyed indicated a high level of concern about gaps in learning that may have occurred over the past three months, and over half also expressed a high level of concern about child care if home-based learning continues in the fall. Department staff are working to address these concerns and to try to minimize the consequences.