Staff of Parkway Reflect on E-Learning

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Glenda Petrofsky, a fifth grade teacher at McKelvey Elementary School reads “The Sneetches,” by Dr. Seuss as a bedtime story for her students. “I feel fortunate to have access to the Google learning suite. Google meet has helped my students and me feel as connected as possible during this difficult time,” said Petrofsky.

Aiden Petrofsky, Podcast Personality

Beginning in March, all students in the Parkway District began e-learning. While remote learning has been available for students across the world for some time, this is the first time all students in Parkway are required to learn through e-learning. Because Parkway is attempting this scale of e-learning for the first time, there have been some complications. Nevertheless, many believe the positives of e-learning outweigh the negatives.

With a recent increase of new technology in Parkway schools, e-learning is more possible than ever. Each student has an opportunity to access the technology from their school at home.

Students in grades two through ten are 1:1 with Chromebooks Students in Kindergarten and 1st grade as well as juniors and seniors are not 1:1 with Chromebooks, but have access to Chromebooks and iPads.

“[In the past, grade levels ] shared a laptop cart, [but that meant the laptops were] not as readily available and not as easy to integrate into the daily routine,” said Megan McCaffrey, a third grade teacher at Mckelvey Elementary School.

All students had an opportunity to pick up their designated Chromebook or borrow a Chromebook if needed, allowing access to the internet at home during the quarantine. Students who needed access to the internet also could apply for a hotspot for use at home. If online learning were not possible, both students and teachers would have difficulty completing and grading assignments.

“[Students] would be very limited because they would be relying on direct instruction that wasn’t possible, on top of the fact that there would be a logistic problem of getting their teachers the assignments. Nevermind the fact that the assignments that are turned in are contaminated,” said Richard Muszalski, an eighth grade teacher at Northeast Middle School.

Elegan Kramer, a science teacher at North High School, experienced the struggle of having away-from-classroom learning without technology during her high school education.

“Teachers could mail students their assignments. Students [would then] complete the assignments and mail it back to the teacher. [To communicate,] teachers could use phones to call students at home, which is something I had to do for an honors class in high school.,” said Kramer.

Even with Parkway’s surplus of technology, there are still complications that may restrain students from learning.

“There are students [and parents] who are struggling with e-learning. Some students do not have access to technology in their home. Even with Parkway providing technology, some parents did not understand or did not take the opportunity to pick up a device,” said Robyn Boling, a first grade teacher at Mckelvey Elementary School.

Most of Boling’s first grade students cannot access the internet without assistance from their parental guardian, and some of these parents have trouble accessing the various applications in their child’s designated e-learning curriculum.

“[My students need] parental help to log on and to understand what the first grade lessons are all about. Parents have reached out to me expressing that the learning is too much. They are stressed about their own jobs and have tremendous difficulty logging in to the various sites. Parents have asked if they can quit e-learning and how much longer must they continue. First graders are not independent on the computer and most cannot just log on and work on lessons independently,” said Boling.
While middle and high school students may not need as much parental support, they still may run into issues including having to share devices and broadband with family members.

Parkway’s e-learning system has been difficult for many families, and has some considerable flaws. Nevertheless, if the technology were not provided, students would lose a level of interactivity that comes with assignments that teachers have prepared for their students through the internet. Without the technology, all, if not most assignments would not be possible to complete.

“The assignments my students are doing for my class could not be completed. They are creating video platforms, google slides, powtoons, prezi and inquiry based assignments which need the internet to be completed. Public libraries are closed, so paper and pencil research is toast,” said Muszalski.