Teacher L is a distance learning teacher working for an independent school in British Columbia. In the past, she has taught high school math and science courses in both public and private brick and mortar schools. She has also spent two years teaching overseas. Teacher L is presently working with students from grades eight to twelve, facilitating math, science, physics and chemistry courses. She has been working as a distance learning teacher for the past eleven years and through her job has the opportunity to work from home.
This interview was conducted through a synchronous Zoom meeting session, using video and audio features. Teacher L was situated during the interview at her home work space in the Lower Mainland in British Columbia, while I was in a quiet conference room at a nearby library in Edmonton, Alberta.
When considering three keywords that could summarize Teacher L’s teaching experience intersected with the implementation of technology, the following words and phrases surfaced: isolated, stretched-thin, and low-risk. All three of these descriptors have a tinge of negativity associated with them, but through the interview with Teacher L, the negativity is balanced with a positive outlook towards future possibilities.
As a distance learning teacher, Teacher L faces some issues of isolation. Throughout the interview there is little indication of collaboration efforts with colleagues or professional development in the area of technology. When asked how she has learned to incorporate referenced types of technology into her learning space, she admits that it is largely “through trial and error” and that “you just need to jump in”. When prodded to share if colleagues have been a useful resource in helping learn new technologies, she seemed unsure and responded with “I guess” and then mentioned that she has “emailed the Zoom people to see how to make things work” when initially setting up a Zoom conference room for her students. Although Teacher L does not seem to have much collaboration with other teachers, she is self motivated to learn new technologies, but feels that her teaching assignment is too broad and is too demanding of her time and energy. She states, “I think there are definitely programs, and like I said these labs and stuff out there, that could enhance it [student learning experience], but this is my own shortcoming that I need to find, or spend time researching and getting those programs, or finding those websites that would do more. When I think of technology enhancing learning, I think of those things that you can send the student to help them in a more practical way. Ultimately that is what I would love to add more of to the courses.” From an earlier portion of the interview she shares some hopes and frustrations: “One thing that I haven’t used, but I would like to use but it’s challenging, and to be honest because I have so many courses I haven’t been able to look into it as much, but there are online labs that are for chemistry and physics, but I haven’t implemented them as much as I would like. I feel like I haven’t implemented a lot.”
Teacher L has implemented some use of technology within her teaching, course delivery and student learning requirements, however this implementation of technology is mainly used to instruct students through a delivery system. For communication with students, Teacher L mainly uses email, Skype and Zoom meetings. Her preference is now Zoom as she can “have a face-to-face and … hold up a diagram, but there is also the whiteboard option”. She describes the whiteboard option as one of the most beneficial technology teaching tools that she uses “because the ones [students] who are struggling need that more visual back and forth … that we can actually do with the whiteboard to go through the problems”. As well, Teacher L is using a Learning Management System called Canvas which allows her to set up courses for students to access content and assignments and then submit assignments, complete tests and receive feedback. As described in the interview, the younger grade eight and nine students require some teaching time to learn how to use Canvas, whereas the grades ten to twelve students were able to use it more intuitively. In response to challenges of use by the grade eight and nine she states, “Initially with Canvas, a lot of them were having issues putting the right thing in the right place and knowing how to use it. Next year, I need to start out differently with the students. Let’s take some time to learn to use this well.”
At this time in Teacher L’s career, ease of use of technology for both herself and her students is the key to a successful learning space. Perhaps our interview may spur her on to incorporating more complex uses of technology into her course design, but for now she asserts that a new technology must be “easy for them [the students] to open …, and see what they need to do, and easy for me to implement.”
The following Interview Analysis document includes portions of the interview transcript aligned with analysis. The analysis connects patterns and ideas from other teacher interviews presented through the ETEC 533 lesson.
A Poetic Reflection:
There can be a lot of talk about lack of accessibility,
a lot of complaining about unpredictable connections.
There can be the fear of the unknown,
of not knowing where to start,
or knowing what it means.
from the lack of control.
There can be the giving up and the giving in,
or there can be the G0-getter that keeps on giving
The onus is put on whom?
Who will accept the responsibility?
Who is willing to move beyond ease and the conventional
And take a risk beyond what is now?
What is placed in this learning space?
Not rows of pupils facing front –
with a sage on the stage
and a static page at hand.
There’s integration and intersection
of mind and machine,
of hand and tool,
of sight and sound,
There’s learning the rules
of not right and wrong,
but of how and why.
There’s discourse and recourse
and collaboration and cooperation.
There’s inquiry and error
and trying again.
And assessment is not so quantified, as qualified
not needing to be scored,
but needing to be shared.