“Our school wasn’t very prepared for remote learning”: Educational technologies during Covid school lockdowns and the rhetoric of transformation.

Year: 2021

Author: Tinkler, Jacqueline, Murphy, Steve

Type of paper: Individual Paper

The mass closures of schools during the COVID pandemic threw a spotlight on the use of educational technologies, although not always a positive one. This presentation will highlight the results of study that that explored the use of digital technology during school closures in Australia, drawing on the perspectives of primary school teachers and parents, with a focus on the teaching of mathematics and science. The aim of this study was to gain an understanding of how remote learning was facilitated using technology, and to identify any new practices that were beneficial for students. Thirty-two teachers and forty-three parents were recruited to participate in the study.  Due to the lockdown restrictions, data were initially collected using Facebook group interactions with parents and teachers from around Australia, yielding a mix of text and visual data about participants experiences of remote learning. Further, seven teachers and seven parents participated in remote  interviews, conducted using zoom, telephone, and email. The zoom and telephone interviews were transcribed, and all data were coded using an interpretive thematic approach. The benefits and challenges of these methods of “COVID-safe” data collection will also be explored in the presentation. A number of themes emerged that included learning to use technology; learning how to teach and learn remotely; moving away from technology; hardware and internet access; social connection; collaboration and communication; and technology and engagement. The findings from this study indicate that the use of technology in pedagogically effective ways needs to be prioritised for primary teachers, and that parents needed to be included in the development of technology-facilitated remote learning skills. The use of technology during the pandemic highlighted the need to move away from the transformative rhetoric around educational technology use to a more realistic and needs-based approach to the promotion and of educational technologies by teachers and parents.