Almost 40% of teachers in Donegal are dealing with slow or bad internet connection as they teach from home, according to a new survey.
Teachers in Donegal also said that two in five pupils do not have access to a device or internet for schoolwork.
Patchy broadband infrastructure network and poor levels of student engagement are impacting teachers’ ability to teach remotely, according to the major survey of second-level teachers by Studyclix.ie.
As well as bad connectivity, almost eight out of ten teachers (78%) said many students are apparently not responding to or engaging with them in the past six weeks since schools closed.
One reason for that is that many second-level students do not have access to a device with 47% of teachers nationwide reporting that this is an issue for their students.
Teachers themselves are struggling with the technology, with three out of 10 teachers saying they lack the technical know-how to effectively carry out online teaching. When asked what tools they were using online, teachers said Studyclix.ie (70%); Google Classroom (41%); Microsoft Teams (41%) and Zoom (26%).
But despite the technical challenges, it seems many teachers are working more hours and they are finding online learning more difficult than classroom teaching. 93% say it more difficult to work from home, with 79% saying they are working more hours.
The survey results were based on the responses of 1,500 teachers on Monday and Tuesday of this week. The answers were provided shortly after Minister for Education Joe McHugh announced a €10 million top up funding for ICT hardware such as laptops.
Commenting on the overall survey results, Studyclix founder Luke Saunders said: “There is a clear disparity in the view on online learning from the teacher and student perspectives. Our recent student survey showed that 79% of students felt they could be getting better support from their teachers while teachers report an overwhelming lack of student engagement.
“Our results also show a really pronounced digital divide emerging whereby certain students and teachers are being disadvantaged by Ireland’s poor broadband infrastructure. I feel that students in remote rural areas and those in disadvantaged urban areas are being particularly left behind.”