In Brazil, the Covid-19 pandemic has deeply impacted and disrupted the lives of both teachers and students of the public basic education sector. All face-to-face classes were suspended in March, 2020 and teachers were required to resort to emergency remote teaching (ERT) with little or no funds, guidance, resources, skills and knowledge to do so. In most states, emergency remote teaching and learning was the primary mode of education delivery until May, 2021. As the Covid-19 vaccine only began to be offered to teachers in June, 2021, most basic public education schools across the country began as of this date to offer a mix of blended learning or face-to-face classes. In February, 2022, with high vaccination rates among public school teachers and children (ages 5 to 11) currently receiving their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, all students are now required to attend face-to-face classes following basic sanitary protocols such as use of masks, social distancing and testing for suspect cases.
In this context, it’s imperative we understand the myriad of obstacles faced by teachers and if, at all, basic public education teachers who had received prior professional development on the use of OER and OEPs did indeed resort to their use and which ways during this pandemic period. This study, funded by the Global OER Graduate Network’s (GO-GN) Fellowship program, is aimed at exploring these questions. To achieve the outcome of the study, fifteen potential participants were initially invited to participate in the study. Criteria for inclusion for participants were to be a K-12 teacher and possess prior familiarity with OER. However, at this time, only six teachers have volunteered to participate in forty-five-to-sixty-minute online interviews.
The online interviews were conducted in Portuguese. Recorded interviews were transcribed and translated into English, and transcripts were imported into the NVivo software for qualitative analysis. Interview questions were developed from scratch and were structured around questions regarding participants’ demographic data (grade, subject, years teaching, location, skills & knowledge with ERT, who participants resorted to help with ERT; technology, instructional material & pedagogical practices used to deliver ERT; main obstacles faced; how student engagement & learning was assessed; use of OER; use of OEPs; participants’ plan to use OER & OEPs in F2F classes and lessons learned. The original interview questions are here.
Preliminary data analysis of the study will be presented at OER 2022 in April and I hope it will be well received by the Open Education community. I will include a link of my presentation as soon as OER 22 is over. Preliminary data analysis revealed that most participants did use OER to develop their lessons during ERT. Examples of OER developed from scratch and/or used are development of an eBook to teach Science and Biology, use of books and/or texts available on the Internet and texts and images in the public domain; use of OER to produce Literature, Portuguese and Spanish instructional materials; development of a video and fruit cards from scratch for literacy and use of OER on available repositories with instructional material on History. Participants reported using different repositories to curate OER such as university repositories and other educational institutions; however, not all instructional material used or found clearly indicated all materials were indeed openly licensed. Additionally, it is still a challenge for teachers to use Creative Commons licenses and attribute them correctly. For example, one teacher reported she simple copied and pasted the CC logos. Three participants claimed they deposited their OER in the MEC RED (Ministry of Education Repository of Digital Resources) repository and never received any feedback on the OER they had developed. This appeared to be a straightforward complaint rather than a simple claim.
Key lessons learned and additional comments and/or suggestions from participants included: professional development should be offered more consistently and with higher quality; the need for better salaries (teachers have not received salary raises since 2013); public policies need to be revisited and changed; persistent lack of infrastructure in public schools (teachers still need to use their own computers and WI-FI); currently teachers can use their mobile phones in school (this is a big plus since before the pandemic they were not allowed to); teachers find it easier to work with students remotely than in schools due to more reliable access to the Internet; older teachers who were more resistant to technology appear to be now better adapted;
students now know how to use email; teachers are now more prepared to use digital resources and escape traditional classes by use of OER; students need teacher’s mediation to use digital resources; and there is need to disseminate OER and OEPs and provide incentives (not monetary but rather in prizes or awards) for those teachers who create or use them.
Further plans for the study are to recruit more participants, validate preliminary findings with participants (member checking), develop a framework/guidelines aimed at improving educational practices and collaborative work focused on better coping with times of crisis and/or hybrid learning in the Brazilian public K-12 sector, and to write an update blog post to include the final results of data collection.
Palhares, I. (2021, September 16). Brasil é dos poucos países que não aumentaram recursos para educação na pandemia. Folha de São Paulo. Retrieved fromhttps://www1.folha.uol.com.br/educacao/2021/09/brasil-e-dos-poucos-paises-que-nao-aumentaram-recursos-para-educacao-na-pandemia.shtml?origin=uol
Stracke, C. M., Burgos, D., Santos-Hermosa, G., Bozkurt, A., Sharma, R. C., Swiatek Cassafieres, C., dos Santos, A. I., et al. (2022). Responding to the Initial Challenge of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Analysis of International Responses and Impact in School and Higher Education. Sustainability, 14(3), 1876. MDPI AG. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/su14031876
UNESCO (2021). Situação da Educação no Brasil (por região/estado – nov. 2021). Retrieved from https://pt.unesco.org/fieldoffice/brasilia/covid-19-education-Brasil
Cover photo “Remote Teaching” by François Phillip licensed under CC BY 2.0