Challenges and Opportunities for Education in Covid-19 Era
The impact of COVID -19 has been limited not only to one nation or one part of the world. By the end of March 2020, approximately 185 nations had asked their schools to close, and such action had affected almost 90 percent of the world’s students. This was done in so much of a hurry that there was hardly any time for students or teachers to react much. There was no time to prepare any immediate alternative plans or make any strategy to tackle it effectively. It had certainly posed a big question for the policy makers and millions of students too. But based on our previous experiences of SARS 1 AND MERS, we feel that it is not only possible to come out of this crisis, but also convert these challenges into opportunities. Information technology has great potential to play a very visible role in the field of education. We shall have to develop effective learning outside classroom practices. Let’s analyze some of the challenges and opportunities that are thrown at us by COVID-19.
Real-Time communication will be missed.
Traditional classroom settings, where the learner and teachers are physically present, will be sorely missed by the students. In such a scenario, there will be a communication gap between the teachers and the students. Students being asked to watch videos or read on-line notes might make the learning look dull, and soon the students may start avoiding the studies.
The dearth of facilities.
All the schools are not equipped with technical infrastructure to provide online education to students, especially, the schools in the rural areas are quite underprepared to face such a big ask. Even the majority of teachers in South-Asia (Including India) and Africa are not completely ready to provide online education for so many students for all subjects. Teachers feel challenged to prepare all types of study materials and resources to keep the interest of the students alive.
The assessment mechanism will be tested.
In many countries, there were annual exams going on during the month of March, when #COVID-19 started showing its ugly teeth. Sudden closure of school led to cancellation or postponement of these exams. Now, a large number of students, particularly of school board classes, i.e. class 10th and 12th will be stuck due to non- completion of examinations. Related to that issue is the problem of admission of these students in the Medical Colleges, Engineering Colleges, Technical Universities, and other professional institutions.
Safety and Security of Students.
Most of the students in third world countries and developing nations
It will have a security issue as well because these students are still not well versed in cybersecurity procedures and its dangers also. Once they are asked to use online platforms for studies, their privacy might get compromised. They might share personal info inadvertently on dubious platforms and suffer at the hands of Cybercriminals.
Social Gaps might widen.
Although, there has been a gradual increase in the users of the internet, yet not every child has access to online learning materials. A large section of students still come from the social and economic background where digital literacy is very low. That means we shall our work cut out so that we are able to take our skill and knowledge to the last child without any discrimination.
Lack of trust in E-Learning.
A large number of first-timers, teachers as well as students, would be using on-line resources for studies. Many may not get desirable responses or results from their exposure to technology and their performance may show a downslide. Such a situation may lead to the creation of a sense of mistrust regarding this approach.
Opportunities for Future growth
- Better appreciation and Respect for Teachers.
The out of box approach towards teaching by the teachers during these COVID-19 times will definitely earn them much needed appreciation from the students as well as parents. Apart from availabilities of educational facilities at the school campus, there are many other facets of a school namely, Physical activities, co-curricular activities and Mid-day meals, etc. which will make them realize the importance of School and Teachers in the development of the children.
Mixed learning approach.
Many educationists feel that this unexpected exposure to on-line teaching should lead to redesigning our curriculum for the next generations. Such challenges for students and teachers have open doors for a novel approach whereby we must divide our regular studies with at least twenty to thirty percent content should be based online studies/ assignments for all classes so that everyone is familiar with this approach and is able to use for performance enhancement.
Better quality of Resources.
During this crisis, both the teachers as well as parents felt a strong need for quality of study material, that not facilitate the learning with the continuous monitoring of a teacher, but is also able to retain the interest of the learner. The teacher will also be more satisfied, if they know that the resources shared with the students will be received well them and shall supplement their classroom learning.
Better Networking and collaboration among the teachers.
This crisis has brought teachers closer like never before. Teachers have been working tirelessly to develop on-line content for all classes despite a lot of differences in their personal teaching preferences. Teachers have become more interactive and have understood the importance of collaboration in content creation. They have formed many online teacher’s communities and started sharing these concerns and solutions.
Development of Empathy amongst teachers.
This crisis has helped the teachers develop a greater sense of empathy for each other. Teachers sitting across the oceans got together, irrespective of different time zones, not only to discuss content and resources, but also to share their teaching practices, social and ecological challenges to forge connections, and made this a global experience. This happened to be the only time when Educators and learners of the entire globe have been able to rise above local challenges and have taken upon themselves the responsibility of setting the things right through small but firm steps for a bright future.
(Major Pardeep K Shinh)