This pandemic meme says it all. Forrest Gump is sitting on a park bench, and the caption reads, “And just like that, everyone was homeschooling their kids.” Overnight online learning became the new education norm. After just a few months, it became clear that things were not going well.
The New York Times ran the following headline: “As School Moves Online, Many Students Stay Logged Out.” Teachers at some schools across the country report fewer than half of their students are participating in online learning.”1 The article cites some of the reasons why the digital classroom is suffering: spotty internet connections, low-income students with varying levels of technology, and lack of parental supervision. In Philadelphia, it was reported that only sixty-one percent of students attended on an average day. In Boston, only fifty percent of students were logging in or submitting assignments. 2
Just because so many students are not logging on to distance learning platforms doesn’t mean they are not online. Time spent on the internet has soared. 3 Even if students participate in online learning, they are likely also checking social media status, email, text messages, etc. known as rapid toggling. Some people believe this is a form of “multitasking” and therefore increases productivity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Research shows that studying or working in an office in this fashion decreases productivity by as much as forty percent. 4 One study found that multitaskers scored eleven percent lower than those who were not multitasking on a standard comprehension test. Even more troubling, researchers found that just sitting near someone who is multitasking reduces comprehension by seventeen percent. 5
Countless parents around the world found out just how ill-equipped they were. Israeli mom Shiri Kenigsberg Levi’s video rant on Instagram went viral. Here are only a few of her honest comments: “I have four kids. Just imagine how many WhatsApps, how many teachers for each child, how many subjects per child. I’ve got only two computers in the house. All morning they’re fighting over the computers. I go from one child to the other. Here’s science; here’s math. Forget it! How am I supposed to know everything? If we don’t die of corona, we’ll die [of] distance learning.” 6 Her video is resonating with people around the world. It has been translated into more than twenty languages. 7
Despite many years of promises that online learning would enhance education as never before and growing concerns about spreading the COVID-19 virus, there is now a global push to get students back into the physical classroom as soon as possible.
I am not against online learning. In fact, I believe that RenewaNation’s online Christian education platform, iLumenEd Academy, is a prophetic Godsend at this moment in time. What I am advocating is that we learn from and fix the issues discussed in this article. iLumenEd Academy has the potential to be an antidote to another crucial issue facing the church, which is the extremely dangerous curricula being pushed by far-left radical progressives. If there was ever a time to get kids out of the public education system, it is right now.
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