The COVID-19 pandemic in 2019 caused large-scale interruption in education globally [7], which has brought technology to the forefront as an aid to teaching and learning. The global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic caused class suspensions resulting in the need for online learning [6]. Educational institutions urgently moved from face-to-face traditional content-based learning to online teaching. This meant that learning was delivered from a distance assisted by electronic devices, such as, tablets, smartphone, laptops, and computers which require connection [4]. Similarly, the rapid spread and severity of the COVID-19 virus in the Caribbean resulted in government leaders closing educational institutions in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. In Trinidad and Tobago, although policies for online teaching and learning at all levels of the school system were not yet developed, many educators transitioned from face-to-face to this new mode of online delivery without prior training in 2020. Secondary school teachers grappled to use new technology as the “curriculum was not configured with online or blended delivery in mind” [5]. Other challenges included a lack of pedagogical training in relevant disciplines [3], slow internet speeds, internet connectivity issues [5] and limited devices for many students. Despite the multiplicity of challenges, some teachers indicated that there were a few factors the facilitated their implementation of online learning Their experiences of the barriers and factors that facilitate online learning are critical since these experiences can assist the Ministry of Education (MOE) and local policy makers in developing effective strategies that will support teachers in online learning. Furthermore, this study will assist the MOE and by extension school administrators to understand the difficulties that teachers encountered during mandatory online teaching, which can lead to policy change and initiatives. This study can also corroborate the corpus of literature on teachers’ experiences of online learning and add to the sparse local knowledge base. As such, the purpose of this qualitative case study is to investigate English Language teachers’ experiences of online teaching and learning at a secondary school in Trinidad and Tobago. Specifically, this study examined teachers’ experiences of the barriers and factors that facilitated online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research questions are:

1. What are teachers’ experiences of the barriers to online teaching and learning at a secondary school in Trinidad and Tobago?

2. What are teachers’ experiences of the factors that facilitate online teaching and learning at a secondary school in Trinidad and Tobago?

Auma and Achieng’s theoretical model [1] was used as it focuses on the factors that influence online learning, which can provide insights in relation to the study. This model is unique in that it encapsulates the independent variables which focus on the access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure, competencies in ICT and the perception of ICT. Data collection consisted of semi-structured interviews with the three teachers. Documents such as students’ attendance and test results were also used to substantiate information given by the participants. The data were analyzed utilizing Miles and Huberman’s model [8]: data collection, data reduction, data display and conclusion verifying. The findings indicate that some of the barriers to online learning are, inadequate devices, unreliable connectivity, lack of pedagogical skills in online teaching, teacher attitude and the digital divide. The factors that facilitated online teaching included support from school administrators, professional development, availability of teacher resources, and creative instructional techniques. It is recommended that since digital connectivity and digital divide were issues for many students, the Ministry of Education needs to identify the most vulnerable students and provide them with the essential tools to facilitate online learning. Professional teacher training to maximize teacher efficacy in an online environment are also important.

Authors: Desseranne Glasgow, Sharmila Nisha Harry

Published in: Canada International Conference on Education, 2022

  • Date of Conference: 21-23 June, 2022
  • DOI: 10.20533/CICE.2022.0052
  • Electronic ISBN: 978-1-913572-49-5
  • Conference Location: Virtual (Mississauga, Canada)