Has Covid Deepened the Digital Divide for Teachers?

The last 12 months of pandemic has brought unexpected results, both large and small. For instance, I didn’t expect to wish I was married to a hairdresser, rather than an engineer. But recently, I do.  I suspect none of us thought we would rely on technology to do our jobs as much as we have.

Most international schools have had to move to full or partially online teaching this year, and for many it’s affected their approach to recruitment for 2021/22. We have never before required a teacher to have a ‘digital cover letter’ explaining the Educational technology (EdTech) they have used and their competency with online teaching. That is, until this year. We’ve never had teachers lose their jobs because they can’t connect reliably to their class halfway around the world until 2020. We rarely have had teachers asked to teach an online ‘demo class’ as part of their interview, but this year has seen more of these requests.

Technology has been quietly transforming our lives for years, but what was different in 2020 is the rate of change. It’s gotten so fast that it’s become almost a “disruptive event”.  My worry is that some teachers, if they are not aware of the shifting ground, could be left far behind – too far to ever catch up and possibly boxed out of the international circuit.

Whether we like it or not, online teaching and the increased use of EdTech is here to stay. Whilst all schools we work with plan to go back to in person teaching as soon as they are able, many schools are also embracing online teaching and EdTech as a better way to reach students who are on long term sick leave or travelling, or parents who now want to be more involved.  I don’t think we will ever go completely back to where we were in 2019 because technology has been proven singularly useful. You can’t put that genie back in the bottle.

What can you do?

If you have been successfully teaching online and have used educational technology in an effective way, we recommend that you put that in your CV and cover letter.  You should be prepared to be asked what tools you have used and how. What makes a good online lesson and how you can make them fun and engaging? It’s not enough to say you have downloaded a tool- you need to describe how you have used it effectively, what the engagement has been, and how you have adapted your lessons.

If you are in a country or school that does not have the infrastructure to support online teaching and lots of EdTech, then I recommend you do research so that you can talk intelligently about it. Even if you can’t say that you have used it, but a really good first step is to research so that you can quickly assimilate as needed.  Schools will be looking more closely at how easily you can problem solve technology challenges – from how seamlessly you connect to your video at interview to how professionally you correspond online- they are now watching you throughout the process. 

It’s worth noting that some hiring managers are looking especially closely at teachers who are 40 and over to see how tech savvy they are since they are less likely to be ‘digital natives’. If you fall into that category make sure you do your homework and make it clear you have adapted. Pointing out your tech fluency in your CV is especially important to get to interview stage.  

More than ever, teachers need to be lifelong learners, and those who are not will almost certainly be left behind in the international education job market. Now is the time to prepare – it’s a brave new world out there.


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