Local teacher presents findings from digital learning survey

Dolores Killian, local teacher and member of the INTO Education Committee, speaking at the INTO Education Conference in Galway. Photo: Moya Nolan.

The results of a survey on digital, distance and distance learning were presented by local teacher Dolores Killian at the Irish National Teachers’ Organization (INTO) Advisory Conference on Education in Galway on last month.

The conference focused on the dual theme of digital learning and well-being. Ms Killian, a native of Ferbane and a teacher at An Grianán NS, Mount Temple, is a member of the INTO Education Committee for District 7, which covers five counties, including Offaly and Westmeath.

At the conference, she presented the results of the survey, which aimed to capture the experiences of school leaders and teachers to ensure continuity of learning in a context of Covid-19.

The survey showed that 98% of those polled have engaged in distance learning, 70% using online platforms for the first time. A very small percentage used paper media and half of the teachers communicated with their students on a daily basis.

Four in five principals maintained regular informal contact with their staff members during the school shutdown, but highlighted the challenge of intermittent internet connections.

There was a general consensus that interacting in a virtual space is more difficult than face-to-face meetings, and many managers said the move to online meetings negatively impacted the connection between people. Staff.

Before the forced shutdown, only a third of those surveyed used technology in the classroom on a daily basis, leaving some teachers feeling that they lacked the skills to effectively interact with students online.

It was evident that many teachers would be supportive of continuing professional development in the field of online teaching and learning, especially in preparing content for use on digital platforms and supporting assessment strategies for digital teaching and learning.

Principals and teachers recognized that access to devices and technology was a barrier to student engagement. More than a third of schools provided devices for students to use during school closings, but two-thirds of teachers surveyed said some students in their care did not have access to the devices.

INTO members highlighted the negative impact of the pandemic on the well-being of principals and teachers.

More than three-quarters of principals said they found themselves working excessive hours and nearly nine in ten principals said their workload had increased. It was striking that only 2% of managers considered their level of work to be manageable.

While many principals reported taking specific steps to support their physical and mental health, lack of time was a deterrent.

Commenting on the survey, INTO Director of Education and Research, Máirín Ní Chéileachair, said: “The data collected is invaluable and provides insight into both the innovative practices in which schools are engaged and challenges they faced during school closings.

“The results testify to the creativity, adaptability and resilience of the teaching profession, but also underline the need for an increased offer of CPD for teachers, adequate digital resources and well-being supports for teachers. schools and their students. “

In her closing remarks, Ms Killian said critical thinking and adaptability will be important skills in the future.

She also drew attention to the Digital Strategy 2015-2020, which sparks a government action plan for the integration of ICT in teaching, learning and assessment practices.

The strategy is currently under review and a public consultation took place earlier this year, in which INTO made a written submission to the Department of Education consultation on a revised digital strategy for schools.

In its submission, INTO highlighted the key issues that need to be addressed, namely that the state should ensure that all parts of Ireland have access to high quality broadband; all teachers should have a device to use for their schoolwork; and all schools should receive appropriate CPD in digital technology.


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