Educational Challenges and Opportunities of COVID-19
In the early months of the year 2020, the world was introduced to an unprecedented challenge in the form of COVID-19 – a pandemic which has rapidly grown to disrupt life as we know it. Amidst this global crisis that is swallowing economies and shutting down industries, the educational sector has received the biggest setback. According to UNESCO’s latest figures, as of 24th April 2020, approximately 1.6 billion learners in 191 countries have been affected by the pandemic. That is an alarming 90.2% of the total enrolled learners in the world.
Despite unyielding efforts from educators around the world, these numbers paint a grim picture of the current educational landscape. As the unforeseeable nature of the pandemic allowed little to no time for planning and preparation, educators have been left to navigate these challenges on their own. However, where there are new challenges, new opportunities also arise. Below we will discuss some of the top educational challenges and opportunities resulting from COVID-19.
Adopting new Learning Mediums
Most of the world’s educational institutions were shut down in March. Since then, many schools and colleges have resumed sessions online, in compliance with social distancing measures. This entails conducting classes over Zoom or Skype, homework submissions over website portals, and online exams.
Be it for learning the best essay writing online or for getting some help on their assignments, most students have taken help from the internet before. However, complete reliance on the technology was largely unheard of among regular school-going children before the pandemic struck. For many students and their parents, this has proved to be a difficult transition that they are still struggling with.
Making Distanced Learning Approaches Engaging
The new learning approaches in compliance with social distancing measures are proving to be ineffective for many learners. Students who are used to learning in a community setting are less likely to respond well to these solitary and often boring methods. Going through documents, listening to lectures online and seeing classmates from behind a screen is not the most engaging learning environment. Making learning more engaging and fun for students during the quarantine is a real challenge for both, parents and educators.
Handling the Pressure as an Educator
Students are not the only ones having a difficult time. The emergency caused by the pandemic resulted in the immediate closure of educational institutions. The aftermath of these explosive decisions is now being faced by teachers who are just as clueless and confused as anyone else. As an educator, there is a mounting pressure to redesign and find the best resources to suit new learning mediums. This takes time and effort and just like any other human, these educators are also struggling with their personal lives while trying to make learning possible.
Bridging the Equity Gaps
While many students have access to adequate resources for online learning, some are still devoid of these necessities. This gap caused by accessibility widens even more as we venture into the developing nations of the world. Since the new learning approaches rely solely on digital devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets and internet connectivity, students who have none of these things are suffering greatly. It is a real challenge to bridge these equity gaps to make online education more accessible to all.
A New Path for Education
Just as a Phoenix rises from its ashes, the collapse of a system sometimes provides fuel for a fresh start. The setbacks faced by educational systems can prove to be a disruption that can pave the future of education. The lessons learned during the crisis can be utilised to create a more inclusive and accessible educational framework that redefines learning and allows us to think out of the box.
Creation of Learning Material
The rules of the traditional classroom do not apply to the current situation. This has encouraged educators to experiment with new innovative learning ideas and materials. Parents and teachers are looking for engaging learning resources to shape young minds and give learning a new dimension. This demand is being met by many content creators and professionals who are providing quality learning resources. The wide variety of quality learning materials will surely be useful in the future as well.
Rise of Ed-Tech: Leveraging the Power of Technology
While interest in Ed-Tech has been growing steadily throughout the last decade, it is still not common practice in most educational institutions. This new reliance on technology might kick-start a new end-tech revolution in education that brings technology at the forefront. The future of education can augment educational experiences with technology to make learning more accessible, exciting and engaging.
As many crises throughout history have taught us, bouncing back is not impossible. In fact, the disruption might prove to be the saving grace of the educational sector – allowing us all to rethink education and revamp learning for the current generation and beyond.