Divya loved going to school. School was one of the favourite parts of her day. She could learn new things, meet her friends, have fun, read and do a lot of other activities. Little did she know that everything was going to change from the next day. She woke up to her parents huddled in front of the television and tried to understand what was happening. They had serious looks on their faces. She had been hearing bits and pieces of the news and it didn’t seem like things were good. It had been a couple of days since she went to school. Her school had declared holiday because of the Coronavirus. She was hoping the school would reopen soon until she heard her mom say that the entire country was going into lockdown.
Education is never going to be the same again for students like Divya. Complete lockdown in countries meant the disruption of normal education. Schools, universities and other educational institutions are also shut. This may have looked like an early vacation for kids. However, as the lockdown is for an extended period of time, countries are looking at innovative alternatives for this disruption in their education system. Today’s post will look at how the crisis we are going through now has affected our conventional education system.
The Quantum leap
Even though our world keeps changing every day, our education systems around the world have embraced change pretty slowly. Most of the educational institutes around the world still continue with in-person training and conventional education systems. However, with this sudden crisis looming on us and disrupting life, educational institutes are forced to take a quantum leap and embrace the education system going digital.
Hong Kong had to take this drastic step last November owing to campus closures because of anti-government protests and violence. The public universities in Hong Kong had shifted in person classes with digital alternatives. And now, with the Coronavirus scare, most of the countries have started adapting to these digital alternatives. Educational professionals are using Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, FaceTime, Zoom etc to communicate among themselves and with students. And some educational institutions have their own applications which help them shift classes online. Other Edutech applications like the Byju’s app in India are also helping students continue learning. Governments, Publishers, Educational institutions and professionals Technology providers and Telecom Network providers are collaborating together to provide better education to the future of our planet even during crisis.
The current situation
Most of the educational institutions are continuing daily classes using online conferencing tools and mobile applications. Education professionals like teachers assign daily learning sessions, create props to aid in teaching using resources at hand, assign indoor exercises for physical education, provide counselling, etc. Parents are involved more. They now have to act as teacher assistants and make sure that their wards are punctual, complete their assigned homework, ensure their participation in every learning session and make sure that they are not distracted by computer games. Students get to learn in their home environment, get more attention regarding their academics from their parents, understand concepts better with the help of augmented reality and technology.
The issues being faced
This jump to complete online classes has been sudden. Which means there are going to be problems in the system which nobody has prepared themselves for. There are obvious mental and health aspects. Everybody is under lockdown and it is a pretty stressful situation. The boundary between the learning/teaching environment and home environment has become blurred now for the students and teachers. Students will be facing issues like being too relaxed with the learning process, more distractions like computer games, tendency to snack more because of the sources being in sight most of the time, etc. Teachers are facing issues like being unable to supervise students properly because of the large number of students in a session. This has been solved temporarily by creating sessions multiple times and keeping the number of students in a session to 6 or 7. Teachers also need to create learning props with the resources at hand. Parents do not have it easy either. They have to actively participate and focus on their wards at the same time they are working from home.
Then comes the technological aspects. Online learning currently favours the children of families with access to technology, time and space. Teachers and students alike are facing slow internet, poor audio and video equipment issues and other technical issues. Countries like China, US and Japan are tackling internet issues by using 5G internet. The Kerala Government in India is making sure that the state’s internet bandwidth is increased and doesn’t face disruption which has helped students with their elearning.
The current scenario has helped us understand that what we require for our education system to progress is adaptability and flexibility. Gone are the days when education was easily accessible only for the people who were rich and had transportation facilities. Technology has advanced so much. The Edutech industry is helping our education system go digital with the help of Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Blockchain, Augmented Reality, etc. Education is no longer restricted to the four walls of a classroom. Because of this crisis, our education system could experiment with online learning much more faster and efficiently than in a normal scenario. Under normal circumstances, such a drastic change would have met restrictions and many other challenges. The current online education system isn’t perfect. However, we now have the means to work more on helping our education system grow abundantly with technology.
Under normal circumstances, our education system meant we meet people often in an educational setting, interact with peers and mentors and educational professionals, and become involved in educational and learning activities in person. The current crisis has forced us to rethink how the education system can change for the better and be prepared for unforeseen circumstances like the one we are facing now. It is time for all of us in the technology industry, collectively to help make a better future for students like Divya. So that in future they do not need to go through uncertainty when it comes to their education, come what may.