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Students all around the world, the month of March 2020 will forever be known in the education community as the month when almost all the world’s schools shut their doors, unfortunately. So, on March 1- the six governments instituted nationwide school closures due to the deadly coronavirus pandemic and by the end of the month, around 185 countries had closed and that is affecting 90 per cent of the world’s students approximately. So, The speed of these closures and the rapid move to distance learning has allowed little time for planning as well as a reflection on both the potential risks to safeguard against and the potential opportunities to leverage accordingly.
Also, with every crisis comes deep challenges and opportunities for transformation and past education crises have shown that it is possible to build back that’s better actually. So, To help students reflect on what some of these challenges and opportunities efficiently. According to Jim Knight who is a current member of the House of Lords- head of education for Tes Global and former U.K. schools minister and to Vicki Phillips who is the current chief of education at the National Geographic Society and a former U.S. superintendent of schools and state secretary of education as well. So, They provide perspectives from inside and outside of government in the U.K. and U.S. although their insights can likely help the many countries worldwide struggling to continue education during the pandemic outbreak.
The Risks and challenges associated with it:
For the Distance learning will reinforce teaching and learning approaches that we know do not work well—
So, many countries are shifting to distance learning approaches and whether through distributing physical packets of materials for students or through using technology to facilitate online learning as well. Also, there are real risks because many of these approaches can be very solitary and didactic when Students are just asking students to sit and quietly watch videos and read documents online or click-through presentations which are really dull actually. So, The worst form of learning is to sit passively and listen and this may be the form that most students will receive during school closures efficiently. Additionally, It serves no one well, especially those who are the furthest behind others.
The Educators will be overwhelmed and unsupported to do their jobs efficiently--
Numerous teachers had little or no notice about their schools closing and shifting to online learning and this can be challenging for anybody. As They’ve shared that they are overwhelmed with all sorts of materials and products and also are seeing educators begin to push back and request help filtering through all the resources to find those that are quality actually. Simultaneously, the teachers are just like the rest of us in that they are experiencing this strange new world as mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles as well as grandparents. So, they are trying to deal with their individual lives and take care of their kids and find new ways to make sure that learning continues effectively.
Overall protection and safety of children will be harder to safeguard--
Considering the U.K., it has stringent processes around checking who has access to children during school and also in after-school clubs and sports as well. So, the schools have safeguard measures in place to ensure that predators toward children. For eg- paedophiles, can’t access young people. So, now once people move to online learning in a home environment then they can’t safeguard against this. Additionally, People have to be mindful about the design of online learning so that bad individuals don’t get to children outside of their home at all.
The School closures will widen the equity gaps --
If it is looked for over the last decade or so then the progress has been made in the number of students, who have access to devices and connectivity and making this move to online learning possibilities. So, At the same time, it is not that every child has access to digital devices or internet connectivity at home, and we need to ensure those kids get access to learning resources accordingly. It actually means that learning resources need to be available on every kind of device along with it meaning that for kids who don’t have access and still it is needed to find a way to reach them by making it a priority.
Many Poor experiences with ed-tech during the pandemic will make it harder to get buy-in later for good use of ed-tech most importantly--
It is known that some students who use ed-tech during the pandemic will have a poor experience because they’re not used to it Efficiently. So, some people will say- “During the virus, we tried the ed-tech-enabled learning approaches and it was terrible, and look at my test scores.” So this will happen of course. Moreover, People’s test scores will be impacted and people will become unhappy because the mental health effects of being isolated will be profound and measured. So, it is must be prepared for that accordingly. Also, those poor experiences are really important to learn what does and doesn’t work respectively.
The Opportunities to Leverage at its best:
The Blended learning approaches will be tried and tested as well as increasingly used--
It is known that the more engaging learning styles are ones that are more interactive and that face-to-face learning is better than 100 per cent online learning as well. So, We also know that blended learning can draw on the best of both worlds and create a better learning experience than one hundred per cent face-to-face learning. Thus, If, after having done 100 per cent online at the end of this- then it’s quite possible that we can then think about rebalancing the mix between face-to-face and online education. So, The teachers will have started to innovate and experiment with these online tools and may want to continue online pedagogies as a result of all this after all. So, That’s really exciting altogether.
The teachers and schools will receive more respect and appreciation as well as support for their important role in society as well--
For people, it will be easier to understand that schools aren’t just buildings where students go to learn and that teachers are irreplaceable after all. So, There’s something magic about that in-person connection, that bond between teachers and their students as well. So, Having that face-to-face connection with learners and being able to support them across their unique skills and that’s very hard to replicate in a distance learning environment actually. Additionally, most students access critical resources at school-for eg- meals, clothing and mental health support that may not be as widely available at home easily.
Quality teaching and learning materials will be better curated and more widely applied--
Numerous educators are looking to other educators as well as trusted sources to help curate high-quality online learning tools efficiently. Additionally, at National Geographic, it is curated collections for K-12 learners in our resource library effectively. So, it is created a new landing page that allows educators and parents as well as caregivers to access our free materials quickly and inspire young people accordingly. Though it’s not just teachers struggling and it’s parents and other caregivers who are trying to bring learning to life. So, in the end- it is about to live streaming our Explorer Classroom model that connects young people with scientists, researchers and educators as well as storytellers. Also, during this transition process, it is needed that students and families to have access to that larger world and that too, in addition to their own backyard accordingly.
The Teacher’s collaboration will grow and help improve learning drastically--
It is much needed to come out of this crisis stronger by collaborating and working together. So, not asking heavily burdened teachers to reinvent the wheel efficiently. So, it is essential to get a big resource-sharing platform for teachers which includes coronavirus-related resources as well. So, there are other platforms also where teachers can see what others have done and bring improvement in themselves accordingly.
The pandemic crisis will help us come together across boundaries through the globe-
It is the need to an hour to be considerate and it will be bad if people didn’t take away a greater sense of empathy for each other. So, The idea that we can work through anything together, from this crisis efficiently. Moreover, it’s an opportunity for the education sector to unite and also, forge connections across countries and continents and truly share what works in a global way best.