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Charlotte Talks: How We Learn During A Pandemic

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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

As the coronavirus continues to strain every aspect of our lives, education forges ahead – if only virtually. As nearly the entire country has shuttered its schools, what are the implications of a nation going to class online?

All 50 states have mandated school closures to a certain degree with at least four closed for the rest of the academic year. At least 124,000 U.S. public and private schools and over 55 million students are affected.

This does not mean education has completely grinded to a halt. Since the coronavirus cannot be transmitted virtually, class will continue for many students online. There are significant benefits to this transition – class materials are always available, class time is more flexible and student interactions could arguably increase, as there are a variety of platforms and techniques to engage with the material electronically. Before the forced conversion to online education, it was already a massive industry, with the market expecting to reach $350 billion by 2025.

But not everyone is happy, including some teachers. A blog post titled “Please do a bad job of putting your course online” went viral recently, citing concerns that students often share their technology with other household members and that if they didn’t sign up for an online course, they have no obligation to have high-speed Wi-Fi, concluding: “Your class is NOT the highest priority of their OR your life right now.”

Many schools simply cannot ensure equity in access to things like computers, the internet and necessary technology to facilitate online learning. On the other hand, some students in high-caliber schools are tweeting about the Ivy League's transition into the University of Phoenix.

As of now, all of North Carolina’s public schools are closed until May 15. Is the transition to online education a glimpse of the future or will class go back to normal once the pandemic becomes a footnote in our history textbooks?

GUESTS

Richard Arum, dean of the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine, recently published an article in The New York Times titled “What Is a College Education in the Time of Coronavirus?

Florence Martin, professor in Learning, Design and Technology, program director of the Post-Master’s Certificate of University and College Teaching and program coordinator of the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, Learning, Design and Technology concentration at UNC Charlotte

Hilary Marshall, eighth-grade teacher and head of the language arts department at Alexander Graham Middle School

Ann Doss Helms, education reporter for WFAE

Jesse Steinmetz is Assistant Producer of Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Before joining WFAE in 2019, he was an intern at WNPR in Hartford, Connecticut and hosted a show at Eastern Connecticut State University.

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