|Teachers at Yongsan Technical High School in Seoul film a lecture on Wednesday which will be watched by students from Thursday./ Yonhap|
By Kim Se-jeong
Teachers, parents and students were still unsure about what to expect from upcoming online classes, Wednesday, a day before the start of the unprecedented online-only spring semester for high school students and middle school seniors.
Last week, the Ministry of Education said schools from elementary to high school will open Thursday but lectures should be offered virtually in an effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, plunging teachers, students and parents into panic.
Following high school students and middle school seniors, freshmen and sophomores and fourth to sixth graders in elementary schools will begin their online lectures on April 16, followed by first to third graders in elementary schools on April 20.
"I am not sure how things will play out. I haven't done a test lecture with students yet," said a teacher from Daegu who teaches Korean language to senior high school students.
"I made a 50-minute class for my students using content I watched on EBS. I will upload the file on a platform and the students will log in to watch the lecture. I am supposed to be able to see who's watching the video during the class time and I will check attendance based on that. But I am pretty sure students will do something else during the class and only few will have their full attention on my lecture."
A middle school senior in Yongin Gyeonggi Province had a technical problem during a trial class on Tuesday with his teacher.
His computer screen went blank for more than an hour due to a problem caused by overloaded traffic to the e-learning website. The teachers instructed him instantly to sign off temporarily which he did, and he was able to go back to the website an hour and a half later.
"School opening is just two days away and the situation doesn't look good. I am getting more worried," his mother said during an interview with a local newspaper.
Not all students have devices ready for online classes.
"Some of my students still don't have devices," an anonymous high school teacher in Seoul said on Tuesday.
The education authorities said that students could rent devices from schools and the government will subsidize the internet connection fees, but the teacher accused the government of blind optimism.
Many teachers said they chose to record lectures, instead of interactive live lectures.
"We've tried interactive lecture sessions with students and it somehow took me 20 minutes to check students' attendance," one science teacher said. "So my school scrapped live lectures altogether."
The government tried to keep spirits up for teachers and students.
"Online schooling … will be the beginning of a whole new world. Instead of being afraid and pessimistic, I encourage people to stay excited and optimistic about the future opportunities," Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said during a meeting on Thursday.