Teachers grapple with technology as Durham Public Schools enters first week of online instruction

Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Durham schools reflect on lessons from first week
Durham educators have contingency plans in place in case their technology fails as remote learning begins.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Pascalle Adams teaches fifth grade at Parkwood Elementary School in Durham. Like educators at most Durham Public Schools, she's starting her first week of online instruction after orientation last week.

She's been focusing on building relationships with students in this new world of virtual learning.

"I would say building relationships comes before curriculum, in my opinion, but it's definitely more important this year than any other year because we are virtual and you can have those feelings of separation, especially for students," Adams said.

Teachers faced some issues when Zoom and NCEdCloud, a portal used by school districts to access online learning tools, went down last week.

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Principal Anna Rusconi said her school had backup plans in place so students could still do their remote learning.

"In the event that one platform goes down, we have a backup plan," Rusconi said. "And so that's been really critical to our success. And since we're only technically in week two, even though our teachers have been preparing for it for many weeks, they're able to really know, 'ok, if this goes down we move to this,' because we've had those experiences, and we are learning as we go."

Rusconi said parents can contact teachers or school administrators if there are problems with technology by calling the front office or emailing them.

"That's one thing that I think we did really well last week and this week was the communication piece," Rusconi said. "So, for example, when Zoom went down Monday, really nationwide, we were able to communicate quickly with our families so they didn't think it was a problem with their internet or with their device so that went really well last week and this week."

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Adams said her own quick thinking helped her students stay connected when NCEdCloud failed.

"NCEdCloud went down," Adams said. "However, I was able to record it on the screen and show students an alternative way to log into Zoom and I shared that with parents on class Dojo. And I was able to give them the Zoom link and our meeting ID so that they didn't have to rely on NCEdCloud."

Adams said she'll gradually increase the workload for her students.