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Why Malta’s Teachers Unions Are Opposing Live-Streaming Physical Lessons

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On the face of it, live-streaming of classes may sound like a simple solution to problems schools are facing as they try to adjust their operations in line with the COVID-19 health guidelines. It will give students who remain at home the chance for a proper lesson instead of a pre-recorded one and it will avoid schools resorting to alternative timetabling methods that have left parents in a fix.

However, it has run into some serious resistance by the country’s two teachers’ unions.

The Malta Union of Teachers said that while it isn’t against fully online lessons, especially if schools have to close physically due to COVID-19 risks, and that specialised online teaching services should be provided, it is against the live-streaming of physical lessons.

“There are many issues [which] include serious pedagogic issues, control of two different classes at the same time and also many issues related to privacy,” the MUT said in its official position on online learning.

With regards a ‘hybrid’ mix of online and physical lessons, the MUT said its stance depends on the system being proposed.

Similarly, the Union of Professional Educators argued that physical teaching and online teaching requires two different pedagogical methods, and live-streaming physical lessons will force teachers to juggle between these two approaches concurrently.

These include issues such as handing out notes, giving homework to students and handing out corrected homework.

“Back in March [when schools went online], teachers who used to give essays as homework would have to make children write it out on paper and scan it to them. Teachers would then have to print it, correct it, scan the correction and send it back. It was a longer process,” UPE executive head Graham Sansone told Lovin Malta.

He also warned of privacy issues related to live-streaming physical lessons, such as the risk that students following the lesson from home could film it and circulate it outside the classroom and that their parents and guardians could watch the lessons and judge the teachers’ methods.

“The classroom model has barely changed in decades and we can’t reinvent the wheel overnight,” he said.

What do you make of these arguments?

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