Ultra-Orthodox Telelearning During COVID-19: Parent, Teacher, and Principal Perspectives on Its Effectiveness
This study addresses telephone learning channels during the coronavirus period in the ultra-Orthodox sector in Israel. The purpose of the study is to examine the effectiveness of the online and recorded telephone channels and the way they were perceived by the student’s parents and educators.
The ultra-orthodox society’s lack of use of online means has created many distant learning challenges for learners and educators.
The study combines quantitative and qualitative methods based on a comprehensive survey of parents of elementary school-aged children (N=395) and semistructured interviews (N=45) with parents, principals, and teachers in ultra-Orthodox schools.
The study describes a unique learning system in a unique population group, which does not use online means, from various points of view in the educational system.
The results of the study indicate that parent attitudes toward telephonic learning – synchronous and asynchronous – are critical and that evaluations of its effectiveness are negative and ineffective. This evaluation stems from a variety of challenges faced by the learners: technical challenges related to the problematic infrastructure and terminal accessibility issues; didactic challenges related to adapting the learning style to the character of the students and their age; challenges arising from the characteristics of the medium: the lack of a visual dimension, its function as a one-way channel, and the lack of potential for effective interactivity; and the need for parental involvement and spatial challenges resulting from the crowded and limited learning space at home.
Based on the research results, and in order to meet the challenges of a future pandemic or similarly disruptive crisis, telelearning spaces must be improved significantly.
The results can be used to examine how other unique communities, especially those that avoid the use of online means, are managing distance learning in a crisis.
It was found that telephone learning in ultra-Orthodox society during COVID-19 failed to realize the learning potential inherent in this channel for a number of reasons discussed in the article and failed to create the learning conditions necessary for telephone learning to succeed, as demonstrated in previous studies.
In a similarly disruptive crisis, future research should see whether or how telelearning spaces have improved or whether other learning methods have been adopted by the ultra-orthodox public.