MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – “Students getting access to teachers online is really 21st century. It’s where our world is heading,” said Evan Erdberg, Proximity Learning President and Founder.
Shelby County is apparently headed that way too. Erdberg’s company, Proximity Learning, is bringing remote teachers to classroom.
“We will find teachers who are highly-qualified, highly-certified, and allow them to pick their own schedules and be streamed in live every day to teach instruction in school,” said Erdberg.
Substitutes will still be in the classrooms but focusing on keeping the control.
“The teachers instruct. The students raise their hands. They ask questions. They get to know each other’s names,” said Erdberg.
Northwest Prep and Central High are two of the five schools to get remote teachers.
Local 24 News spoke with Keith Williams, Memphis Shelby County Education Association Executive Director. He said many are not on board with the program.
“Our population need a physical and present human in that classroom touching and agreeing and learning upon the lesson,” said Williams.
He said the big reason for the vacancies is teachers’ salary.
“The alternative is to raise the teacher’s salary schedule. You can attract people with money,” said Williams.
The total cost for the contract is expected to be $210,180.
Williams said, “We’re not sure what they’re going to be paying these teachers. They may make more than regular teachers. What’s going to stop our teacher from quitting and applying for that?”
For those in the community, the program is getting some mixed views.
“I think it could work. I’ve never heard of things like this,” said former teacher Bill Shelton.
Dr. Yvonne Nelson is an educator and parent. She said, “The person themselves have to be ready. You can’t just take every student and put them in that environment to succeed. They can’t succeed in just brick and mortar, so how do you expect them to pay attention to a video and learn what’s being taught and pass a grade?”
While some were not sure if the program would work, others looked to what options the county has.
“I’d much rather see a live person there. In absence of that, it’s better to have someone do it remote than to have substitutes,” said Bob Brown, Shelby County visitor.
There were also those who considered the already growing trend of technology.
“In a way with all the computers, cell phones, the technology now, it may give the kids another viewpoint, another perspective,” said Shelton.
That though left some thinking maybe it could work.
“Well they’re putting robots in everything else. You’ve got robots checking out our food at the grocery store. We’ve got robots giving out the mail,” said Nelson.
Remote teachers will instruct math, science, and history beginning this year. SCS says each teacher can service up to 125 students per day.
They plan to closely monitor the program to see whether or not it is successful. Also, they will be in close contact with both parents and students.