From the teachers’ perspective, the second semester of distance learning has gotten better.
Some teachers at Central High School are happier with distance learning this semester than they were in the first. “You could not do online learning in the second semester if you failed it in the first semester,” said Zachary Powers, a history teacher at Central. “You either got it or you didn’t.” The number of students doing distance learning has drastically decreased because of this, and the drop of online students has lessened the online workload on teachers who worked with distance learning.
The decreased numbers of students doing their learning online is not the only reason that things have improved as the year has progressed. Teachers have also improved at the task. “At first Edgenuity was hard to work with because it was unfamiliar,” said Mary Mahoney, an English teacher, “but it has become easier to navigate as I have used it more.”
Edgenuity is the program that Rapid City Schools are using for distance learning. Students are expected to get on each day and log in and work for a certain amount of time in order to keep on track. Generally this is 45-50 minutes per class. Teachers have to oversee assignments and open them up, and teachers must also grade essays.
One difficulty of distance learning, Mr. Powers explained, is that it is harder to know if the student actually understands what they are doing since they have Google and could just search up answers. He thought the main thing for him was getting to see his students that do online class, because even though they passed the first semester, he would like to make sure they understand everything they are doing. Mrs. Mahoney also thought in-person contact will be important for distance learners at some point. “I would like to see all the online students in class next semester,” she said. “I think direct instruction and socialization are two very important elements that students are missing thorough distance learning.”