Giving Compass' Take:

• A study reveals that there are gaps in students' digital literacy as many schools pivot to virtual classrooms and online learning. 

• How can schools offer more help and support to students in order to close these gaps? 

• Here is a discussion of the challenges of COVID-19 and the digital divide. 

When schools abruptly moved online as COVID-19 swept across the U.S. this spring, teachers improvised and traded tips on what worked with colleagues. Many also ended up serving as tech support for students and their parents, who themselves struggled to learn new tools as well.

That’s a major takeaway from a survey of more than 700 teachers in 40 states conducted this spring, just after schools first shifted to remote instruction due to the pandemic. The study, done by education professors at Bridgewater State University, posed five open-ended questions: What has been your experience? What are your challenges? How are you solving those challenges? Who do you rely on? And what other information do you want to give us that we should know?

“Digital literacy became a theme in all of this data,” says Heather A. Pacheco-Guffrey, an associate professor of science education at Bridgewater State University who led the survey effort. “Digital literacy skills were not where they needed to be.”

One part of that was that students and parents often lacked the skills to join Zoom calls and collaborate in shared Google Docs.

“American kids and families are great at consuming tech, but not great at creating with technology,” Pacheco-Guffrey tells EdSurge. “We’re great at reading on our Kindles and our iPhones and all that jazz, but do children know how to type, can they actually create something with their own ideas?”

And so parents and kids largely turned to teachers to provide the tech support to get to classes and course materials remotely.Meanwhile, those teachers often felt they lacked adequate tech training.

“The teachers talked about having to train themselves in the tech,” says Jeanne Carey Ingle, an assistant professor of elementary and early childhood education at Bridgewater State who also worked on the survey research.

Pacheco-Guffrey says that the data suggests that K-12 schools need to offer more, and different kinds of technology training.

Read the full article about digital literacy gaps by Jeffrey R. Young at EdSurge.