Zoom and other tech tools allowing for live videoconferencing seem to be a hit with educators specializing in teaching math and English/language arts during coronavirus-related school building shutdowns.
With several months of remote learning under their belts, teachers are figuring out what works best and what doesn’t work at all for their digital classrooms.
A recent EdWeek Market Brief survey found that teachers of those two subjects are most likely to say videoconferencing tools are “very effective” for delivering math and English instruction.
The Education Week Research Center asked teachers and district leaders this spring about tech preferences for teaching math and English. The results show that 63 percent described live videoconferencing tools such as Zoom as “very effective” for English/language arts instruction, and 57 percent said the same about those platforms’ value for teaching math.
The use of Zoom and other live synchronous video technology in some form has become ubiquitous in districts during COVID-19 school building shutdowns. They provide teachers and students with a crucial aspect missing during remote learning: face-to-face interaction. But with widespread usage by schools, concerns over privacy and security emerged — to the extent that Zoom had to address vulnerabilities that affected schools nationwide.
A majority of educators also said that tech tools used for document sharing and collaboration — think Google Docs and Microsoft Word Online — are very effective.
Pre-recorded videos made by a teacher on specific topics also proved popular for math and English teachers, with just about half of educators who responded deeming the approach very effective.
Not as popular for math or English instruction: print novels, movies of books and on-demand videos.
And when it came to digital games, the results were divided — the sole survey response in which there was a lack of consensus between teachers in the different two subject areas. Only 27 percent of English teachers said digital games were very effective, compared to nearly half — 46 percent — of math teachers who responded that way.
For vendors, the survey results offer a window into the types of tech tools districts could be gearing up to use more frequently next school year.
Keith Krueger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking, a nonprofit representing K-12 ed-tech leaders, said the EdWeek Research Center’s survey results align with data from other recent research meant to gauge district network and tech usage.
Some tech products and vendors will emerge from COVID-19 remote learning as “winners” and that means “there will also be losers,” said Krueger.
For the most part, he said, districts aren’t looking to try a whole lot of new things while still trying to get teachers grounded in how to deliver lessons online.
“What we are hearing from districts is they are interested in learning how to use the tools they have and leverage those as best they can,” he said.