Challenges of Distance Learning in Russia: History Teachers’ Practices during COVID-19
The outbreak of COVID-19 has revealed problems in school education using ICT. Teachers were forced to start teaching remotely using special, often unfamiliar to them software to communicate with students. The interaction in online lessons is very different from face-to-face classes. This is especially true for lessons with young children who overcome various barriers and may require outside support because of lack of ICT literacy or inappropriate software.
However, teachers experience even greater challenges. At the beginning of the urgent transition to distance learning, teachers started to shape spontaneously their teaching methods, taking into account technical problems, such as students’ low speed of Internet connection or lack of webcams. Different teachers were dealing with such problems in different ways: for example, giving assignments on the textbook, and asking to send photos with answers. Besides, there are new barriers related to the order of the lesson. It is important to make sure that children are involved online, therefore there is a need in controlling the children's activity in distance learning, keeping the classroom discipline and sometimes parental involvement.
The aim of the research is to identify barriers that hinder effective distance teaching in grade 5 according to teachers’ opinion. To address our aim we used data collected in May 2020 for Sber Gamification Lab research of digital interactive history materials. This research assumes a qualitative analysis. The data consists of 18 semi-structured interviews on multiple topics with history teachers of the 5th grade in Russian schools.
Teachers face new challenges because of distance learning, and it is still unclear how to introduce a new lesson format of interactive e-learning, how to manage a lesson, and how to test knowledge remotely. There is no universal solution to distance learning, so it becomes difficult for teachers to provide exciting and engaging lessons. What solutions to these problems have teachers found? Our results showed that teachers began to use a variety of online-activities on history lessons. For example, it is noteworthy that one of the schools has its own Learning Management System (LMS), where the teacher has the ability to create their own tests and control students. It is also important to note that due to the introduction of interactive materials, teachers could not determine their role in the lesson. Some issues were connected with teachers’ digital literacy skills: some teachers did not know how to organize work in groups or pairs, some of them never used communication platforms such as Zoom before. The article concludes with recommendations for solving problems of organizing and conducting remote lessons.