TAMPA, Fla. - Students across the state of Florida are now learning online, with graded work, attendance and full eLearning beginning statewide.
Teachers statewide spent Monday, March 30 reconnecting with their students. Wendy Hedeen, a 29-year veteran teacher, chatted with ABC Action News from her home about the unique experience.
"It’s pretty surreal,” Hedeen said. “It’s been a little crazy on my end. One of the platforms we’re using, Microsoft Teams, has not allowed me onto the system for access, although my students were able to access it.”
School districts in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties both experienced technical difficulties on the first day of e-learning rollout. In Pinellas County, district leaders say Microsoft Teams experienced a global issue as educators and employers logged onto the system in high numbers.
In Hillsborough County, Edsby, the online learning system, crashed because of a high usage rate.
Despite the technical challenges, teachers tell ABC Action News they are using the new platform to connect with students in different, unique ways.
Hedeen is using the global pandemic as a lesson for her 9th grade reading students, who will write an online book about their own experience.
“This will be featured in future history books. I’m emphasizing that to my students. This can be stressful but you are living history,” she explained.
At first, students will work on their own schedule to complete assignments, until everyone gets comfortable.
Pinellas educators also started a new Facebook group to brainstorm together. The group “teachers going digital unite” has already been joined by more than 14,000 teachers.
In Hillsborough County, teachers will continue to provide assignments for students on Edsby. District leaders also say this is also the best way to keep the lines of communication between students and teachers open during the school closure.
Many tools are also located on Clever, one of the district’s online learning centers.
Student are expected to continue their normal amount of coursework every day, which will be provided by their teacher on eLearning platforms.
Many districts are providing some flexibility during eLearning when it comes to the time of day a student does their assignments. This is because many families may be sharing a computer or device. There are not set hours for a student to complete their eLearning as long as the assignments are completed daily in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.
In Hillsborough County, district leaders have already given out more than 25,000 devices to families in need. If you still need one, contact the district or your child's school. Free internet is also available for a limited time.
In Pinellas County Schools, beginning March 30, students will use Microsoft Teams for course by course instruction. Microsoft Teams can be found in Clever and families can follow this Parent Guide to Microsoft Teams for extra guidance.