One-third of teachers say poor broadband hampering their ability to teach remotely
30 April 2020 | 0
Ireland’s patchy broadband infrastructure network and poor levels of student engagement are impacting teachers’ ability to provide students with remote teaching.
A survey of by Studyclix.ie has found that just over one-third (35%) of second-level teachers nationally consider unreliable Internet access a barrier to teaching.
This figure increases in rural areas such as Co. Mayo (53%), Co. Wexford (50%), and Co. Cavan (48%) where teachers in these areas reported bad internet connection as a barrier to teaching online.
More than 29,000 second level teachers are registered with Studyclix.ie, which has 190,000 student users. 1,500 teachers responded to the survey, carried out on Monday and Tuesday of this week.
As well as bad connectivity, almost eight out of ten teachers (78%) said a lack of student engagement was another barrier, with many students apparently not responding to or engaging with teachers.
One reason for that is that many second-level students do not have access to a device with 47% of teachers reporting that this is an issue for their students. Teachers themselves are struggling with the technology, with three out of 10 teachers saying they lack the technical know-how to effectively carry out online teaching.
Studyclix founder Luke Saunders said: “Schools have now been closed for almost six weeks and I think it’s vital we get these devices to exam-year students who need them as soon as possible to avoid them being disadvantaged for any longer.”
In the past five weeks, Studyclix.ie has recorded huge growth in the number of teachers using its quiz and exam building tools, and the company has increased capacity on its server infrastructure.
When asked what tools they were using online, teachers said Studyclix.ie (70%); Google Classroom (41%); Microsoft Teams (41%) and Zoom (26%).
“There is a clear disparity in the view on online learning from the teacher and student perspectives. Our recent student survey showed that 79% of students felt they could be getting better support from their teachers while teachers report an overwhelming lack of student engagement,” said Saunders.
“Our results also show a really pronounced digital divide emerging whereby certain students and teachers are being disadvantaged by Ireland’s poor broadband infrastructure. I feel that students in remote rural areas and those in disadvantaged urban areas are being particularly left behind.”
But despite the technical challenges, it seems many teachers are working more hours and they are finding online learning more difficult than classroom teaching. 93% say it more difficult to work from home, with 79% saying they were working more hours.
An overwhelming majority (74%) of teachers agreed the Depart of Education made the right decision to postpone the Leaving Cert with half of all teachers (51%) saying predicted grades would not work for Leaving Cert students.