Since the onset of the novel coronavirus, all sectors of our economy have been affected.
Talk of education, health, industry and even religion.
This is why many have referred to this era as the new normal.
What this means is that, our way of live, that is the way we move, communicate, connect, educate, work and even worship are all going to be impacted by this pandemic.
Indeed a great revolution is here.
WHY REVOLUTION? Am sure most of us have read that little story of the peen of Washington Irving entitled Rip Van Winkle.
The one thing that we usually remember about the story is that Rip Van Winkle slept for 20 years.
But there is something about that little story that we usually over look.
We are told from the story that Rip Van went up to the mountain for a long sleep.
When Rip Van went up to the mountain, the sign posted of the leader of the nation then was King George III of England.
When he came down twenty years later, the sign had a picture of George washington, the first president of united states.
Rip Van went to look at the picture of George Washintong, and in looking at the picture he was amazed.
He was completely lost.
He knew not who he was.
This reveals to us that the most stricken thing about the story of Rip Van is not merely that he slept 20 years.
But rather he slept through a revolution.
As he was peacefully snoring up in the mountain, a revolution was taken place that at a point will change the course of history.
And Rip Van knew nothing about this, he was asleep.
Yes he slept through a revolution.
One of the great liabilities of life is that all too many people find themselves living through a great period of social change and yet they fail to develop a new attitude and the new mental responses that the new situation demands.
So they end up sleeping through a revolution.
There is no doubt of the fact that a great revolution is taken place in the world today.
In our case it is a triple revolution.
It started first as a challenge, then as crises and now as a pandemic.
Yes we do live in a period where changes are taken place.
ARE YOU STILL SLEEPING? For us as educators, March 2020 will forever be known as the month when almost all the world’s schools shut their doors.
On March 1, six governments instituted nationwide school closures due to the deadly coronavirus pandemic and by the end of the month, 185 countries had closed, affecting 90 percent of the world’s students.
The speed of these closures and the rapid move to distance learning has allowed little time for planning or reflection on both the potential risks to safeguard against and the potential opportunities to leverage.
Indeed we are experiencing a great change in our world.
COVID – 19 has forced us all to break out of our comfort zone.
Many schools have started experimenting with Zoom, Google classrooms and the likes.
Of course, lots of kids are still adjusting to this new trend.
Recently many top universities have gone online and other traditional tutoring companies are also doing same.
Now whenever anything new comes into being, it comes with new challenges and new opportunities for transformation.
I would like to deal with the challenges that we face as well as the opportunities we can take advantage of in this triple revolution that is taken place in our world.
CHALLENGES #1: Distance learning can be dull: Many countries are shifting to distance learning approaches, whether through distributing physical packets of materials for students or through using technology to facilitate online learning.
And there are real risks because many of these approaches can be very solitary and didactic when you’re just asking students to sit and quietly watch videos, read documents online, or click through presentations—that’s really dull.
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.
It serves no one well, especially those who are the furthest behind.
#2: Educators are pushing back: Teachers had little or no notice about their schools closing and shifting to online learning—this can be challenging for anybody.
They’ve shared that they are overwhelmed with all sorts of materials and products, and we are seeing educators begin to push back and request help filtering through all the resources to find those that are quality.
At the same time, teachers are just like the rest of us in that they are experiencing this strange new world as mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.
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.
#3: No safeguard measures: There are stringent processes around checking who has access to children during school, in after-school clubs and sports.
Schools have safeguard measures in place to ensure that predators toward children, such as pedophiles, can’t access young people.
Now, once you move to online learning in a home environment, you can’t safeguard against this.
People have to be mindful about the design of online learning so that bad individuals don’t get to children outside of their home.
#4: Widening of equity gaps: Over the last decade or so, progress has been made in the number of students who have access to devices and connectivity, making this move to online learning possible.
At the same time, not every child has access to digital devices or internet connectivity at home, and we need to ensure those kids get access to learning resources as well.
This means that learning resources need to be available on every kind of device and it means, for kids who don’t have access, we still need to find a way to reach them.
#5: Bad test scores: We know that some students who use ed-tech during the pandemic will have a poor experience because they’re not used to it.
Some people will say, “During the virus we tried the ed-tech-enabled learning approaches, it was terrible, and look at my test scores.
” Yes, this will happen.
People’s test scores will be impacted.
People will become unhappy because the mental health effects of being isolated will be profound.
We must be prepared for that.
Those poor experiences are really important to learn what does and doesn’t work.
OPPORTUNITIES #1: Blended learning approaches: We know that the more engaging learning styles are ones that are more interactive, and that face-to-face learning is better than 100 percent online learning.
We also know blended learning can draw on the best of both worlds and create a better learning experience than one hundred percent face-to-face learning.
If, after having done 100 percent online at the end of this, I think it’s quite possible that we can then think about rebalancing the mix between face-to-face and online.
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.
That’s really exciting.
#2: More respect for educators: I think it will be easier to understand that schools aren’t just buildings where students go to learn, and that teachers are irreplaceable.
There’s something magic about that in-person connection, that bond between teachers and their students.
Having that face-to-face connection with learners and being able to support them across their unique skills?—that’s very hard to replicate in a distance learning environment.
Also, many students access critical resources at school, such as meals, clothing, and mental health support that may not be as widely available at home.
#3: Quality teaching and learning: Educators are looking to other educators as well as trusted sources to help curate high-quality online learning tools.
Many online platforms have curated collections for K-12 learners in their resource library.
Others have created new landing pages that allow educators, parents, and caregivers access to free materials quickly, and inspire young people.
But it’s not just teachers struggling—it’s parents and other caregivers who are trying to bring learning to life.
To that end, there’re livestreaming of Classroom models that connects young people with scientists, researchers, educators, and storytellers.
During this transition, students and families can have access to the larger world, in addition to their own backyard.
#4: Collaboration and working together: I hope we come out of this crisis stronger by collaborating and working together.
I’m a firm believer in not asking heavily burdened teachers to reinvent the wheel.
Many online services have got a big resource-sharing platform for teachers, including coronavirus-related resources.
There are other platforms too, such as Teachers Pay Teachers and Khan Academy, where teachers can see what others have done.
A teacher could say, “well, rather than record a video with the instructional element I need, I might be able to find someone who has done that really well already.
” One of the most important things teachers can do now is draw on what others are doing: Form community online, share the burden, and make things a bit easier.
#5: Empathy for each other: We would be remiss if we didn’t take away a greater sense of empathy for each other—the idea that we can work through anything together—from this crisis.
I think it’s an opportunity for the education sector to unite, forge connections across countries and continents, and truly share what works in a global way.
I don’t think, prior to this crisis that we’ve been able to do this, and we will have missed a big opportunity if we don’t try to do that now.
We will get through this stronger.
I live in a divided country, and from where I sit, it looks like most countries are divided too.
When you go through a big national crisis like this, you come out stronger as a country because you’ve been fighting together and working together.
SUMMARY As painful and stressful a time as this is, it may fashion a long overdue and welcome rebirth of our education systems.
The pandemic has been a great leveller in a way, giving all stakeholders in developed and developing countries a better understanding of our current education systems’ vulnerabilities and shortcomings.
It has underscored how indispensable it is for our populations to be digitally literate to function and progress in a world in which social distancing, greater digitalization of services and more digitally-centered communications may increasingly become the norm.
More fundamentally, COVID-19 is causing us to challenge deep-rooted notions of when, where, and how we deliver education, of the role of colleges and universities, the importance of lifelong learning, and the distinction we draw between traditional and non-traditional learners.
This pandemic has also made people realize how dependent we are on so-called low-skilled workers to keep our lives going.
During shutdowns, lockdowns, curfews, it’s these workers who are on the front lines, working multiple shifts to maintain delivery and take care of our basic needs.
Over time, automation will continue to eat into these jobs.
While there will always be services provided by low-skilled workers, most new jobs will require higher skills levels.
Being able to reskill and upskill in this rapidly changing world is not only a necessity but an economic imperative.
CONCLUSION We are living in a period of change.
Yes a great revolution is here.
COVID-19 has struck our education system like a lightning bolt and shaken it to its core.
Just as the First Industrial Revolution forged today’s system of education, we can expect a different kind of educational model to emerge from COVID-19.
The challenge we have now is to find ways to reduce as much as possible the negative impact this pandemic will have on learning and schooling and build on this experience to get back on a path of faster improvement in learning.
Our educational systems must look at ways to cope with this crisis, and also think of how to recover stronger, whiles taken advantage of the opportunities immerging from this revolution.
What is your take on this? Please leave a comment below so we can learn from you also.
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