Archives for category: Online Learning

A group of scholars recently published a peer-reviewed study of online schooling and virtual charter schools. The authors are Brian Fitzpatrick, Mark Berends, Joseph J.Ferrare, and R. Joseph Waddington.

The University of Kentucky College of Education, where Waddington is a professor, summed up the findings:

Online Schooling’s Impact on Student Achievement

Online schooling quickly became the new normal for U.S. students when school buildings shuttered to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Although the full impact this will have on student performance will not be understood for quite some time, a study published in the April issue of the journal Educational Researcher may offer a glimpse.

Dr. Joseph Waddington, an assistant professor in the University of Kentucky College of Education Department of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation, is part of a research team that analyzes student performance in charter schools. Virtual charter schools are offered in 21 states across the U.S., including in Indiana, where the majority of Waddington’s research data is collected.

The results of the study published in April do not bode well for virtual learning. The research team found that students who switched from traditional public schools to virtual charter schools saw test scores in mathematics and English/language arts drop substantially, and the lower scores persisted over time.

When students across the U.S. abruptly shifted to online learning, Waddington and his colleagues considered whether their performance would mirror that of students in virtual charters.

“Researchers, policymakers, teachers, school administrators, and parents alike have all been concerned about the negative consequences for student learning resulting from the dramatic shift to online instruction during COVID-19, amongst other health, safety, and socioemotional outcomes,” Waddington said. “We knew we could not directly compare virtual charter schools and the online learning taking place during COVID-19. However, we thought it would be beneficial to provide the community with a research-informed discussion of the two online learning environments, since many individuals have been eager to catch a glimpse of the potential impacts on student achievement.”

The discussion was published by Brookings, a non-profit public policy institute based in Washington D.C. It, along with the study published in Educational Researcher, was authored by Brian R. Fitzpatrick and Mark Berends at the University of Notre Dame, Joseph J. Ferrare at the University of Washington-Bothell, and Waddington at UK.

A bill allowing charter schools in Kentucky, HB 520, was signed into law in 2017. Kentucky’s charter school legislation does not allow for virtual charter schools.

In the authors’ Brookings blog Post, they explain their peer-reviewed work. The major conclusion is:

We find the impact of attending a virtual charter on student achievement is uniformly and profoundly negative, equating to a third of a standard deviation in English/language arts (ELA) and a half of a standard deviation in math. This equates to a loss of roughly 11 percentile points in ELA and 16 percentile points in math for an average virtual charter student at baseline as compared to their public school peers (see Figure 1 above). There is no evidence that virtual charter students improve in subsequent years. We could not “explain away” these findings by looking at various teacher or classroom characteristics. We also use the same methodology to analyze the impact of attending brick-and-mortar charter schools. In contrast, we find that students who attended brick-and-mortar charters have achievement no different from their traditional public school peers (see Figure 2 below). Our confidence in these results is further buoyed by other studies of virtual charter schools in Ohio and nationwide having similar findings.

If we want to dumb down a generation of students, we will make distance learning a permanent part of the landscape.

Catherine Pearson writes at Huffington Post that children are depressed and miserable because of distance learning. The fun of remote learning is gone.

They miss their friends and activities.

In the past month, my 5-year-old has gone from being excited about video calls for school and virtual “play dates” to basically hating it all. Sometimes he’s into it — like yesterday, when he was totally engrossed in a 30-minute math class with his teacher and six friends. More often, he whines and mopes beforehand, then immediately after slips into a funk. That goes for official school meetings and for more casual digital hangouts with family and friends.

Zoom fatigue (or whatever your preferred video call platform) is a real issue for both adults and kids, which is, of course, a problem. Millions of children across America are doing the bulk of their schooling online right now, a scenario that could well continue into the next academic year. But lots of them are feeling, just, meh about the whole thing.

Are your kids completely over Zoom? Here’s what that is all about — and what you can do to help them through it.

Pearson has advice for parents about talking to their children and helping them get through this trying experience.

The Syracuse, New York, journal has sound advice for Andrew Cuomo: Remote Learning is a stopgap. Parents and students want real teachers and real schools. Stop musing about “reimagining” education. Your musings are unsound. Listen to parents and teachers. Let the Board of Regents and the New York State Education Fepartnent do their job.

The editorial begins:

Parents, teachers and students had barely come to terms with the cancellation of the rest of the school year when Gov. Andrew Cuomo dropped another bomb: Maybe, he mused, going to school in person is simply obsolete in the age of coronavirus.

The reaction from educators and parents was swift and fierce. Aides later walked back the governor’s ambiguous and tone-deaf inference that remote instruction could replace the face-to-face kind, saying it would be a supplement.

It can’t be a replacement. You know this if you are a parent with children learning at home for the past seven weeks, or a teacher trying to instruct those students. We see firsthand much is lost in translation from classroom to computer screen. It may be necessary to use remote learning as a bridge to returning to school full time, or when virus flareups close schools temporarily, but it cannot be permanent.

Kids need to go to school. And they need to go to school this fall, in whatever form the virus permits.

Despite good intentions, we can see that homeschooling is not going well for many students — most of all the ones lacking the technology to keep up, or having to share it among siblings. Special needs students are adrift. We also can feel how much being separated from their peers and mentors in a school community is damaging kids’ social and emotional well-being. They are increasingly sad, unmotivated and glued to one screen or another. Without support from teachers and counselors, stressed-out parents are struggling to keep it together.

The governor also knows that reopening schools and childcare settings are key to getting adults back to work. And yet schools are in the last phase of Cuomo’s four-phase plan to reopen the economy, alongside arts, entertainment and recreation. This is a major disconnect. Concerts and baseball games are not essential (as much as they make life more enjoyable). Education is essential.

We’re with Cuomo’s impulse to take the lessons from the coronavirus to “build back better.” What have we learned about schools? Inequities are magnified. Homes are not always ideal learning environments. Access to computers and high-speed internet varies from neighborhood to neighborhood, district to district and region to region. These are some of the issues New York needs to solve first, before it can lean on remote learning for anything beyond an emergency.

As for Gates and Schmidt, the editorial says, “Proceed with caution.”

When your only tol is a hammer, every problem looks,Ike a nail. When you ask two tech magnates to reinvent education, they have only one strategy: more tech. And the past two months have proved that more tech is not what’s needed.

What’s needed is smaller classes and the resources to meet the needs of children. Perhaps Gates and Schmidt could spare a few billions to solve real problems.

I posted yesterday that Betsy DeVos set aside more than $300 million of the billions in coronavirus aid to advance her personal agenda of undermining public schools. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who is chair of the House subcommittee that oversees education appropriations, criticized her misuse of the funds.

Chalkbeat has the story.

Betsy thinks the days of learning in physical buildings are obsolete.

I have often posted the research on virtual charter schools. The 2015 CREDO study showed the abject failure of online charter schools. Their results are abysmal. The most EPIC charter scandals are associated with virtual charters like ECOT in Ohio, now bankrupt, and the A1 chain in California, where 11 people were indicted for the disappearance of more than $50 million in state funds.

Betsy’s ideas are a proven failure.

While enthusiasts for online learning predict a boom after the pandemic, as students and teachers get used to learning at home online, the reality is different on the ground. Stress, loneliness, and boredom are typical reactions.

A team of reporters in Los Angeles reports on student reactions to the loss of face-to-face instruction.

A senior at John C. Fremont High School in South L.A., Emilio Hernandez has a class load that is about as rigorous as it gets: AP calculus, physics, design, English, engineering and government. He loves talking to his peers in English class, who make all the readings thought-provoking. He often turns to his math teacher, who has a way of drawing the graphs and walking him through derivatives and complex formulas.

Now, with a borrowed laptop from school and family crowded in the living room, he’s struggling to make school feel like, well, school. He has trouble falling asleep and finds himself going to bed later and later — sometimes as late as 3 a.m.

“Assignments that would normally take me two hours or 30 minutes are now taking me days to complete. I just … can’t focus,” he said. “I don’t have anyone giving me direction. It’s just me reading and having to give myself the incentive to do the work.”

It’s been three weeks since school districts across the state have closed their campuses as the novel coronavirus continues to sweep its way across California — sending more than 6 million students home to navigate online, or distance, learning. What started as an emergency scramble to provide laptops and meals for a few weeks has dramatically shifted to a longer-haul transformation of public education.

“The kids are not going back to their classrooms” this academic year, said Gov. Gavin Newsom, who acknowledged the burden on households with the entire state under his stay-at-home order.

For those who look to school for learning and social structure, the new reality is sinking in: There will be no school as we know it after spring break. No prom. No year-end field trips. No projects to present inside a familiar classroom. Navigating the three months left in the school year, leaders said, calls for patience and dedication from educators, self-motivation from already stressed-out students and swift actions from school districts typically mired in bureaucratic obstacles.

“These aren’t normal circumstances. It’s the most uncharted territory that we’ve been in,” said State Supt. of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. “We’re stronger together and we can help all of our kids as we work together.”

Many are already rising to the challenge. Yet each step forward means moving past bureaucratic hurdles and cost constraints and taking on persistent problems of student poverty and stubborn achievement gaps…

Overwhelmed. Unmotivated. Stressed. Stressed. Stressed.

These were the words that popped up over and over again on social media and in conversations among students across Los Angeles during a recent virtual town hall with a Times reporter and Heart of Los Angeles, a nonprofit organization in MacArthur Park that provides free after-school programming for underserved youth. About two dozen students shared just how complicated distance learning can be.

Many said that their homes were crowded enough already, and that school and after-school programs were their sanctuaries — a place to escape. Others worried not only about their grades but about the well-being of their families. Some students have been using their own savings to get food for themselves and younger siblings to avoid stressing out family members.

Eighteen years ago, a far-sighted teacher in Los Angeles presciently warned that distance learning would never be an adequate substitute for human interaction between teachers and students.

Alan Warhaftig retired as a teacher in 2017. Education Week gave him permission to repost this article,and he in turn gave me permission to post it.

Educators may be pillars of the community, but their discourse is as mercurial as Paris fashion. Desperate to find a magic bullet to cure education’s woes, many are willing to embrace new curricula and unproven pedagogies, believing that anything different must necessarily be good. Educators’ current fascination with technology is a vivid example.

There was a time, not long ago, when advocates of educational technology gushed about the prospect of schoolchildren exchanging e-mails with world-class experts on everything. The idea was exciting, even if these world-class experts were hard-pressed to find time to reply to e-mails from each other, let alone from tens of millions of American schoolchildren. Eventually, that rosy vision receded into the distance.

Today, proponents of technology deride traditional schools as limited by a calendar determined by the requirements of agriculture and a delivery system that mimics factories from the turn of the previous century. From this critique, which rings true with most educators, they leap to the conclusion that these limitations render traditional schools wholly inadequate to prepare students for the information age—as if the future no longer required graduates to read, think, write, and solve problems using mathematics, at least not if they developed these abilities using paper and pencil. This parallels the insistence, by some “new economy” market analysts at the height of the dot-com frenzy, that traditional bases for valuing companies were no longer relevant.

As an alternative, technology advocates envision “anytime, anyplace” learning customized to the needs of the individual learner. Grounded in constructivist pedagogy, in which teachers are guides rather than the primary purveyors of content, they see technology enabling a real-time dynamic between assessment and curriculum. Assessment would not have to wait for teachers to grade papers, and the next curricular step would be determined individually, based on computer-graded assessment. Reports, calibrated to state standards, would be available to parents via the Internet on a 24-7 basis. While the experienced teacher’s eyebrows rise at the faith being invested in multiple-choice assessment—arguably already too prominent in standardized tests such as the Stanford Achievement Test, 9th Edition—this educational equivalent of the automated battlefield appears a neat little package to those who have never taught or who have forgotten how they themselves became educated.

The exemplar of “anytime, anyplace” learning is online coursework to enrich traditional schooling. In fact, the potential of online education is intriguing, even if current technology and course design are primitive. Imagine students in a remote town with a high school too small to offer Advanced Placement courses in subjects that fascinate them. For such students, or for students whose health renders them housebound, online courses can do for education what the Sears catalogue did for shopping: Place isolated learners on a level playing field with their counterparts at elite urban and suburban schools.

These sensible uses, however, are not a large enough market to sustain businesses that provide online education; therefore, a far grander notion—of cyber schools as alternatives to traditional schools—is being actively promoted by powerful, politically connected entrepreneurs, including former U.S. Secretary of Education William J. Bennett. Their goal, to access public funds to pay cyber school tuition, dovetails nicely with the agendas of charter schools, the voucher and home schooling movements, and school districts that regard online schooling as providing less expensive alternatives to building enough “brick and mortar” schools to accommodate population growth.

Money aside, before society rushes headlong into cyber schools, we must consider whether this is the education we want for children. In 2002, no serious educator can claim that online instruction is of the same quality as competent face-to-face instruction. Cyber schooling is rarely suggested for elementary and middle school students, as even its most enthusiastic promoters would agree that young children need the social experiences of a real classroom. Developmental concerns, however, do not end with the 8th grade; indeed, development enters an especially dangerous phase as adolescents are attracted to emotional and behavioral extremes just as their potential to do harm reaches new heights. Shakespeare had it right in Sonnet 18: “Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May.”

The purpose of high school education is not merely to implant information and develop skills. The young people I teach are becoming aware that there is a world beyond their neighborhood, and that they are part of a rich and complex sequence of events that began long before they were born and which will have implications far into the future. This understanding is not easy to acquire, and breakthroughs in understanding can engender confusion and even pain.

Education is a human enterprise, and while revelations certainly occur while walking on the beach or sitting at a computer, the bulk of academic understanding is best acquired in a classroom—in a community of fellow learners. Students also learn essential life skills in a classroom, including how to interpret meaning—not just in words, but also in voices, eyes, and body language. Shy children emerge from their shells, and aggressive children acquire gentleness and polish. High school can be a dreadful milieu, but parrying insults and ignoring stupidity are useful preparation for adulthood, while fleeing traditional schools may only postpone problems and deny opportunities to develop resilience.

Virtual community has value, but only for those who have learned to be members of real communities. A cyber prom is no substitute for social experiences that were formative in previous generations, and cultural consequences are not factored into the business models of cyber entrepreneurs. Real community has a normative effect on those who tend to extremes: Those who veer too far from accepted norms must moderate their views and behavior if they want others to associate with them. Virtual communities do not encourage moderation in the same way. The Columbine High School shooters found validation for their extreme views in the virtual world. The anonymity of chat rooms and discussion groups encourages extreme expression; for most, this constitutes harmless venting or a tasteless exercise of free speech, but unstable participants can be egged on, and sometimes go tragically over the edge.

As I teach, I determine the next step from the reactions of my students. Did they understand what I just said? Why is there a question in Clara’s eyes, while John seems to have gotten it? In my experience, John was more likely to have been confused by what I said, and Clara is one of my most perceptive students. Is Clara’s question directly related to the material, or has the material activated emotions from another part of her life? (I know that she’s in therapy, though she doesn’t know that I know—and she didn’t look her normal self when she walked into the room.) Good teachers know their students very well and adjust their teaching to achieve optimal results.

Good teachers also thrive on daily, face-to-face contact with students, even if working conditions are far from ideal. In my district, the average high school teacher has between 120 and 200 students. If I could earn comparable pay and benefits to teach 50 students online, and if wearing sweatpants to work were a high priority, I might be tempted. Unfortunately, online education would be prohibitively expensive if each teacher (paid at least $60,000 per year, including benefits) taught only 50 students. If the online teacher had to teach 120 to 200 students, the job would be nearly unbearable—all of the work (more, actually) and a fraction of the human contact, none of it face to face.

As a learning medium, online education is flawed. Designers of online courses labor to create a simulacrum of community, but community has more dimensions than software can emulate, so many participants find they are not engaged and conclude that online learning is not for them. As a substitute for face-to-face discussion, asynchronous threads appear to be inherently less efficient. The primary way to participate in an online class is to post messages. If a student logs on to a class with 30 participants, a large number of messages are likely to have been posted since he or she last logged on. If the fifth message prompts agreement, the options are to either immediately post a response or continue to read messages before coming back to that fifth message. It is far easier to reply immediately. Unfortunately, by the time the student has read the rest of the messages, there might be many messages that echo the same sentiment but add little substance. This duplication does not occur in face-to-face discussions, because everyone in a room can readily assess—from nodding heads—whether or not there is agreement.

The rush to bring technology to education is motivated more by commerce than evidence of educational value. Human beings were learning for many millennia before computers and the Internet, and it would be shortsighted to abandon this wealth of experience in favor of the unproven potential of a combination of technologies that has been available to schools for only about five years. The result will be a colossally expensive failure if pilot programs and properly designed research do not precede broad implementation.

If society is obligated to educate children, it must provide sufficient schools and teachers. The schools need to be clean, safe environments that welcome young people—not drive them to home schooling or cyberspace. The teachers need to be caring adults able to passionately convey both their subjects and the value of becoming an educated person. Only after this commitment has begun to be fulfilled—and technology and course design advance significantly—will cyber schooling find its proper place in the repertoire of educational options.

Alan Warhaftig retired in 2017. He was a National Board Certified English teacher and longtime magnet coordinator at the Fairfax Magnet Center for Visual Arts in Los Angeles. He may be reached at

© 2002 Editorial Projects in Education Vol. 21, number 38

Maureen Downey of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution interviewed me about my thoughts about what might happen after the nightmare pandemic that has changed our lives. Would more parents decide to homeschool their children? Would distance learning replace the school as we have known it? Would policy makers take a new view of standardized testing?

Here are my answers.

Veteran journalist Andrea Gabor writes that students and schools are not ready for the sudden transition to online learning.

Gabor writes:

Online instruction has arrived overnight in U.S. schools. And nobody’s ready for it.

The problem isn’t just that school systems shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic suddenly face the huge challenge of improvising home-schooling routines on an unimagined scale. Students everywhere lack access to online tools.

Many can’t afford them. And even where poverty isn’t the main barrier, few schools have developed a sophisticated digital capability. The promise of a technology revolution that would customize K-12 education to each student’s needs was sidelined early on by efforts to use technology to undermine unions, replace teachers and increase class size, alienating many educators.

Training has been spotty and has left teachers and administrators unprepared. Scandals have plagued both for-profit online K-12 schools, which consistently underperform their brick-and-mortar counterparts, and for-profit online colleges. Meanwhile, the idea that universities like Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could deliver elite instruction to the masses through the massive open online courses dubbed Moocs was undermined by media hype.

Especially for elementary and high schools, where large-scale systematic research on online learning has been sparse, the online-education experiment set off by the coronavirus offers an opportunity — one that won’t be fully realized until the crisis is over — for state and local governments to assess how educators married technology and teaching on the fly. As they invent their virtual classrooms, teachers and districts also have a unique opportunity to document what works and what doesn’t and to seize back the momentum from philanthropy-backed organizations that have sought to redefine public education.

As schools and colleges gather students in virtual meetings using Zoom or Google Classroom, one key obstacle to online education has come into sharp focus: The shortage of computer access and internet connections in high-poverty urban centers such as Miami and Los Angeles, where about 15 percent of students lack computers or internet access, and in rural areas, including vast swaths of the South.

The Los Angeles Unified School District has enough devices for only about two-thirds of K-12 classes, prompting the superintendent to ask the state for $50 million to supply the remaining students with tablets, and local internet providers for free access for L.A.-area families, about one-quarter of whom have no broadband access.

In New York City, an estimated 114,000 children live in unstable housing, including homeless shelters where WiFi is sparse. The education department is expecting to roll out 300,000 internet-enabled iPads, even as some principals emptied their laptop carts so kids could take home devices before schools closed.

Colleges also are wrestling with equity and access issues. The City University of New York initially suspended classes for one week to allow faculty to retool courses for distance learning. Another break announced last week was prompted by the need to get laptops and tablets to students who need them, and to forestall the possibility that students without technology access might drop out.

At Los Angeles community colleges, the nation’s largest community college district serving 230,000 mostly poor students, classes also have been postponed as schools scramble to purchase and distribute technology to students and faculty. Fewer than half the system’s instructors have had any training in distance learning.

Before the crisis, web-based courses and technology platforms such as Blackboard were in use on almost every U.S. college campus. College rankings are based in part on the quality of technology infrastructure and connectivity.

Less is known about the scope of technology used in K-12 schools. About 310,000 students are enrolled in virtual schools, and another 420,000 students in brick-and-mortar schools take at least one online course from state-sponsored digital programs. But there’s little research on the vast number of students who use technology in classrooms with a live teacher according to the Aurora Institute, which studies educational innovation.

A 2010 study, one of the last to focus on the impact of online education on U.S. high schools, found that while online courses were then widely used to make up for lost academic credits, the quality of these courses was iffy. Students’ lack of self-discipline and command of math and reading skills may be another obstacle. Online courses are more successful when they allow schools to provide courses they otherwise could not.

Yet an international comparison of 15-year-olds in 31 countries found that “where it is more common for students to use the internet at school for schoolwork, students’ performance in reading declined.”

Earlier online experiments, such as New York City’s Innovation Zone, launched in 2010, demonstrate both the challenges of designing engaging online education programs and why a chief benefit of technology is to expand connections among students, teachers and the outside world.

The most successful iZone schools were educator-led efforts reliant on philanthropic funding that used technology as part of a broader strategy to rethink curriculum — in particular to develop interdisciplinary projects in longer time-blocks than the traditional 50-minute class, and to use technology to reach beyond school walls. For example, at Manhattan’s NYC iSchool, one nine-week module had students work on an exhibition for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at Ground Zero. They began by studying the history of conflict between Islamic and Western civilizations. Students then used videoconferences to interview young people around the world about their views of the terrorist attacks.

Ultimately, the iZone expanded too rapidly and eventually unraveled — though the best schools continue to pursue innovative education strategies.

Fostering person-to-person connections using apps like Zoom and Google Classroom are especially important now. Teachers accustomed to dominating classroom discussions will find that difficult. Instead, with standardized tests suspended and test-prep pressures eased, teachers can assign independent or small-group projects using phone and video for feedback.

Tools like Google docs also “have the capacity to significantly improve teacher feedback and interaction with students,” says Nick Siewert, a consultant with Learning Matters. This is a time for educators and districts to document their education-technology experiences. After the crisis, the U.S. should finance systematic research on what worked and what didn’t, and expand its internet-funding programs.

Valerie Strauss writes here about a growing exodus from the Zoom platform, which benefits Microsoft’s Teams.

She writes:

Some school districts around the country have started to ban the use of Zoom for online learning from home during the coronavirus crisis because of growing concerns about security, and others are reassessing how and whether to use the teleconferencing platform.

Days after the FBI issued a warning to the public about the “hijacking” of online classrooms and teleconferences, the New York City Department of Education, which runs the largest school district in the country, said teachers should no longer use Zoom and should instead work through Microsoft Teams.

Other school districts, too, have banned Zoom or are trying to beef up security around its use. Clark County Public Schools in Nevada said in a statement that it had decided to “disable access to Zoom out of an abundance of caution due to instances of hacking that created unsafe environments for teachers and students,” but that it was looking at options to that might allow it to resume access.

Asked about the school districts that are banning its platform, Zoom said in a statement:

We are deeply upset to hear about the incidents involving this type of attack and we strongly condemn such behavior. Starting on March 20, we have been actively educating users on how they can protect their meetings and help prevent incidents of harassment through features like waiting rooms, passwords, muting controls and limiting screen sharing. We have also been offering trainings, tutorials, and webinars to help users understand their own account features and how to best use the platform. We are listening to our community of users to help us evolve our approach — for example, we recently changed the default settings for education users to enable waiting rooms by default and ensure teachers by default are the only ones who can share content in class. Finally, we encourage users to report any incidents of this kind directly to so we can take appropriate action.”

The FBI issued a warning to the public earlier this week about the “hijacking” of online classrooms and teleconferences after it received reports of disturbances by people shouting racist and threatening language and displaying hate messages. It said saboteurs were hacking into online meetings in a phenomenon now called “Zoombombing,” because Zoom has become the most popular teleconferencing choice for K-12 schools and colleges and universities during the pandemic.

Concerns about online security have been rising as most of the nation has moved to online education, with school buildings closed to try to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus that has stopped public life around the world. Schools have rushed to put together online lessons and programs, sometimes without strict security filters. There have been numerous reports of intruders disrupting classes and school meetings, from elementary school to higher education.

For example, University of Florida President W. Kent Fuchs reported an intrusion of a student government meeting by someone who displayed racist messages, swastikas, pornography and death threats.

W. Kent Fuchs

Just reported to me that this evening UF’s Student Government meeting was Zoom Bombed with racist messages, swastikas, pornography and death threats. I condemn these horrific messages of hate. I have asked UF IT and UF PD to investigate. COVID-19 and hate will be defeated.

Why would anyone engage in such unethical behavior?

Many teachers are using the ZOOM videoconferencing tool for their online classes, but there have been numerous complaints about ZOOM classes being hacked, and intruders interfering with the class or expressing inappropriate comments.

Consequently, the New York City Department of Education is forbidding teachers from using ZOOM.

New York City has banned the video conferencing platform Zoom in city schools weeks after thousands of teachers and students began using it for remote learning.

The education department received reports of issues that impact the security and privacy of the platform during the credentialing process, according to a document shared with principals that was obtained by Chalkbeat. “Based on the DOE’s review of those documented concerns, the DOE will no longer permit the use of Zoom at this time,” the memo said.

Instead, the guidance says, schools should switch to Microsoft Teams, which the education department suggests has similar functionality and is more secure.

The change is likely to cause headaches for schools and families, as the use of Zoom became widespread after the city shuttered school buildings on March 16 and moved over a million students to remote learning a week later.

Not all schools use Zoom, though many have since the platform offers a free version and is relatively simple to set up. Last month, the city’s Panel for Educational Policy met via Zoom, a meeting that included schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and other top officials.

But the platform has also caused problems for educators and has come under fire nationally for a range of security and privacy issues.

In some cases, students have taken to “Zoombombing” online classes, essentially logging into online classes uninvited and hijacking everyone’s screens with inappropriate images or audio. “Zoombombing is no joke. I don’t think we were ready for that,” Pat Finley, a co-principal at the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School in Queens, previously said.

Students have also sometimes flooded the platform’s chat function with inappropriate comments, disrupting virtual instruction.

Last week, New York Attorney General Letitia James raised concerns about the platform, including whether third parties could secretly access users’ webcams, reports that the company shares data with Facebook, and whether the company was following state requirements about safeguarding student data.