Digital Platforms Mean No Social Interaction For DOD Students

The Corona Virus has put the fun in dysfunctional as the nation’s school students have moved from brick-and-mortar educational facilities to online digital platforms. This includes students in the U.S. military’s Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) schools worldwide.

Even though students are achieving educational goals through distance learning, a gap exists in social aspects of their learning due to the lack of social interaction with other students.

“What I’m so remarkably proud of is that our teacher workforce, our educational leaders in the field and our [information technology] specialists … have all been remarkably resilient and effective in trying to provide quality instruction to kids that are stuck at home,” DODEA Director Tom Brady said.

Aside from scheduling concerns of students spending too much time in front of a computer screen throughout the school day, educators seek to address students missing out on the important social aspects of being in class, being in school, participating in extracurricular activities, meeting with their teachers and friends, and developing the independence that comes with being away from their parents and on their own for a portion of each day.

“Students are grieving the loss of some of these experiences, and our hearts are broken for those kids,” said Patrick Martin, the acting chief of education operations at DODEA.

Across the U.S. military, DODEA runs 161 schools for about 71,000 pre-kindergarten through high school students worldwide. The first of those schools shut down in late February, Martin said.

While education was severely impacted nationwide due to shelter-in-place directives, the DODEA transitioned swiftly to its online learning platform. Military students faced educational interruption for a few days and were soon back to their studies.

Martin said researchers are predicting a “COVID slide,” something similar to the “summer slide,” where students lose a portion of skill level over a summer break from not having used those skills.

Martin said, “The COVID slide, he said, is likely to exacerbate the typical summer slide.”


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