Changes and actions taken in online teaching during the first period of COVID-19: a teacher perspective on pupils’ equity

Anna Slotte, Katarina Rejman, Kirsi Wallinheimo, Education in the North

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The aim of this article is to explore a teacher perspective on issues of equity for pupils in online teaching during lockdown in the first period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Using the concepts of horizontal and vertical equity and equal educational opportunities adapted by Maiztegui-Oñate and Santibáñez- Gruber, we study how the changed conditions during online teaching affected issues of equity for pupils and what action the interviewed teachers took that promoted equity in teaching. The data was collected through interviews with twelve teachers in years 5–9, in Swedish-medium schools in Finland, from April to June 2020. Qualitative content analysis was used. The results show that the horizontal equity is robust, although the teachers noticed challenges related to access to teaching, especially in the areas of the changed forms of interaction, increased amount of texts and lack of structures. The teachers took different steps of action in all three areas e.g. emphasising keeping contact with pupils, clear instructions, use of digital affordances, feedback and structure, thus displaying pedagogical autonomy and creativity. By that the teachers promoted equal education for all. The study shows the significance of professional teachers’ work in exceptional circumstances.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-84
Number of pages23
JournalEducation in the North
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgements and funding
The authors acknowledge the following financial support for the research of this article: this work was funded by Svenska Folkskolans Vänner (SFV) and NordForsk, Nordic Centre of Excellence: Quality in Nordic Teaching (QUINT), project number 87663.


  • online teaching
  • horizontal and vertical equity
  • teacher interviews
  • COVID-19
  • classroom interaction


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