COVID Puts the Microscope on Education Concerns: Post 1

Technology: Issues and Concerns that were Amplified during COVID

In a recent article in The Atlantic, Erika Christakis, an early childhood educator and New York Times bestselling author of The Importance of Being Little: What Young Children Really Need From Grownups, says that younger children have struggled the most with distance learning and that the lack of adequate technology has seriously impacted at least 20 percent of American students. She also notes that even prior to the pandemic most public elementary schools are stuck in a model that has shown little, if any, change over time. (1) 

According to the article, students stand to be seven months behind in mastering certain concepts if remote learning continues into 2021. This will impact Black, Latino, and low income students by a larger margin. In the spring, the Brookings Institution projected that an “extended break from in-person school could cause a “COVID Slide,” in which third-to-eighth-grade students could lose a substantial portion of the progress they would have been expected to make in math and reading.” (2) 

The more pronounced sources of difficulty for students and parents during pandemic schooling, crucial resources — time, physical space, internet bandwidth, emotional reserves, etc. — have pushed many to the point of despair.  (3) 

Learn Platform spotlights the gaps in digital learning during the pandemic, particularly among higher poverty and higher minority districts and discusses a needed focus on increasing access to devices and broadband. (4)

This is deeply troubling, and even more so for students such as ours, with reading and processing difficulties. Dyslexia has not been sufficiently addressed in public schools even though there is clear evidence that identifying and addressing dyslexia at an early age – before students reach the third grade – will significantly improve reading comprehension and overall academic outcomes. (5)

These students, many of whom struggle with reading, often rely on technology to read words out loud to help students who read along, matching the text with the audio recording. In traditional classrooms, teachers are often unable to adequately teach to individual learning preferences and differences. Technology can adapt to those learning styles, delivering content in ways that best suit each student. (6)

Other benefits of technologies include, but are not limited to: increased independence, reduced anxiety, easier communication, and improved academic skills. (7) At Brookwood Christian, we were fortunate to already be using our FACTS Learning Management System (LMS) for the lower grades, and Google classroom for the upper grades, and former student, Hill Smith, commented:

With the advances of Google Docs and Google Classroom Brookwood Christian has redefined the use of study among their students, making assignments and worksheets very organizable.”

Carter Hill Smith, 2018 Valedictorian

The shutdown in spring and the current COVID-19 protocols with face-to-face learning have shown us a few areas in which we need to improve. We are already in the process of securing funding to stay ahead of the curve and be ready for any unexpected future challenges.

Next we will discuss the topic of Homework: Concerns with Overuse for Younger Learners, and how we handle that at Brookwood.


SOURCES:
1. Christakis, Erika. “School Wasn’t So Great Before Covid, Either.” The Atlantic (November 10, 2020).   
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Learn Platform. “The Exponential Growth of the Digital Divide.” Learn Platform (May 2020).
5. Robbins, Roni. “Early Intervention Needed for Dyslexia.” Atlanta Jewish Times (August 2, 2018). 
6. “The Use of Technology in Special Education.” The University of Texas Permian Basin (September 15, 2017).
7. Ibid.