The new context

My household has a secondary Maths teacher, two children both of secondary age and me, a university researcher in Education. The schools closed on Friday and last week my research centre moved to virtual working. The children have been studying at home since Monday, when the UK government advised households that if 1 or more members had one or more symptoms of Covid 19 they should self isolate for 14 days. So we are on day 10.

The radical shift in education ‘delivery’ is quite something. The children have moved onto working with their laptops (we are lucky that both have these). My wife has the challenge of learning how to teach virtual classes through a small laptop screen. She is learning as the lessons are coming. Microsoft Teams is a program we are all using now.

For the research centre, we have to change what we do. First I need to check in with the teams and see how they are faring. In the background to all of this, our lives are being restructured as we all move to a more restricted degree of liberty, and all learn to live with the new uncertainty.

Then there are practical matters. First, is the question of whether researchers have a home environment from which they can work and whether they have the technology to be able to learn. So essentially this is a capacity checking situation. Second, we need to look at our proposed projects as now the university has prohibited all face to face external research activities. So our interviewing and focus groups must go online. Our research is mainly with schools and teachers so, of course, they are physically closed. This means, in the first instance, that we should consider postponing and also moving over to a virtual data collection method. Third, I must write to funders and also report to the university on how the new situation impacts us, asking permission for the changes we need to make. Finally, I am thinking about all the events and meetings that we will now have through computers. What do we run with? What do we postpone?

I wonder about this radical experiment in homeschooling/homeworking. That is extraordinary but I fear for those who do not have 1 computer per person. The poorest are already going to be suffering.

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