Everything was a guessing game for students, teachers, and parents on the first day of school at Miami-Dade. The now dumped distance learning platform, K12 was chosen as a “one-stop shop” to streamlined learning. The first week of school was a complete virtual disaster, but this failure began way before the first day.
School was delayed an extra week because teachers were promised to be trained on the K12 platform throughout that time. During that week, they discovered the online platform was not ready.
“Soon,” was the response teachers received during the training when they requested access to the K12 platform, said teacher and candidate for the Miami-Dade School Board, Lucia Baez-Geller. Two days before the start of school is when teachers finally gained access to the platform to prepare their classes.
“All teachers wanted to do was learn the system. The concerns that were brought up during training were not addressed by the time school started,” Geller said.
On August 31st, the first day of school, students and teachers were faced with numerous technical difficulties in accessing the K12 Platform. “The few teachers that were able to log in, had all of their information that they worked so hard to prepare over the weekend, deleted.”
On top of these issues, teachers were not given a backup plan in case the K12 platform didn’t work, forcing them to improvise. “Teachers were almost forbidden from using their own platform” Geller said. “On the third day of school, we received an email that said please use a backup.”
Neither teachers nor the school board were involved whatsoever in the decision-making process of selecting the K12 platform. “It could have been better to have the teachers do what they think is best for their students, including them in the process of choosing and giving feedback. ” Lucia said.
“They had a lot of time to get this right, instead, they rolled it out a week before school was expected to start with little direction, and not enough technology to support the start of school.”
“Unfortunately, our system in education is very reactive.” said Carlos Vazquez, President and CEO of Miami EdTech, a non-profit education technology organization.
Vazquez says this is an opportunity for schools to complete a thorough needs-assessment of both qualitative and quantitative issues. “If we’re going to fix things, we have to know how bad they are. Schools need to be assessed to determine whether they have the basic infrastructure.”
Educators are saying that the COVID-19 pandemic is just enhancing the issues of technology in education that were already there.
“Students and teachers shouldn’t be depending on having to go into the classroom for working technology,” said Kalyn Lee, M-DCPS North Region’s Rookie Teacher of the Year.
Her students had been asking for devices at their school site, but schools are running out. “We almost spent $15 million dollars on K12, every single kid should have the technology.”
Lee says schools should invest in providing this technology as “technology is now a necessity.”
Veronica Spagna is a broadcast journalist and storyteller striving to make a difference. Her passion for telling engaging stories is motivated by the goal of making an impact in our world. She can be reached at https://www.linkedin.com/in/veronica-spagna/.