March 2020 will forever be remembered in history as a time when all the school, colleges and educational institutes across the world shut down.
While no one was prepared for the pandemic that hit the world, the education system was one of the most disrupted sectors.
According to a report by the United Nations, the closure of schools and other learning spaces impacted 94 percent of the world’s student population. It affected nearly 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries and all continents.
However, it is commendable how quickly and efficiently the global education sector adapted to the new normal.
Here are some ways the pandemic has transformed the education sector across the world:
- A wide range of distance learning tools
As soon as the pandemic struck, one of the key priorities for schools became to ensure learning continuity for the students. During this time, many schools shifted online using tools such as Google Meet, Microsoft Meeting etc. To ensure that the classes could continue without disruption. In areas with limited internet connectivity, local governments launched radio and television programs, together with the distribution on print materials to ensure uninterrupted learning.
- New methods of assessment with learning management software
While many schools closed or cancelled exams, many institutes also opted for alternative modalities, such as online testing and exams. In online testing, the students’ progress is monitored with the help of learning management systems and apps. This ensures rapid learning assessments and helps to identify learning gaps faster than the traditional methods.
- Development of new tools and resources to promote inclusive learning
As countries adopted distance learning practices, students with disabilities faced and struggled with many barriers. This prompted many organized to innovate and develop tools and technological resources for learners with disabilities and their parents. This included enhancing accessibility features, such as audio narration, sign language video, and simplified text to ensure that learners with disabilities could continue their studies.
- Support for the teacher’s needs
From the onset of the pandemic, teachers were immediately tasked with implementing online classes without sufficient guidance, training, or resources. Teachers across the globe were largely unprepared to support this continuity of learning. They were forced to adapt to new teaching methodologies overnight. This highlighted the need to give teachers training in basic digital skills and alternative methods of education delivery.
- Online appreciation for teachers and educators
As students continued to struggle to learn from home, across the world, there was an outpouring of parents’ gratitude for teachers, their skills, and their invaluable role in student well-being. Traditionally, the teacher’s role in the student’s life was rarely recognized. The pandemic forced society at large to recognize that schools and teachers play an important role in the student’s academic life, helping them form bonds with their peers, build confidence and help them fulfil hopes and dreams.
- The changing role of parents in education
For decades parents played the role of mere spectators in the education of students. However, the pandemic has forced many parents to take a more active role in the education of their students. Whether it is supervising the students during online classes or simply home-schooling the students, the pandemic has made parents and teachers allies as they work together to meets the students’ pedagogical goals.
- Increasing disparity between students
The current crisis has exacerbated the pre-existing education disparities by reducing the opportunities for many of the most vulnerable children, and students, especially those living in poor or rural areas. The lack of smartphones and devices for online education, especially amongst the underprivileged has led to a loss in education for many. These learning losses threaten to extend beyond this generation and erase decades of progress, especially in the case of girls and women’s education.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on education – both positive as well as negative.
But these changes have also highlighted the promising future of learning. Today, the need of the hour is to accelerated changes in modes of delivering quality education, through the use of digital resources such as learning management software. However, it is also imperative that children and youth affected by a lack of resources or enabling the environment not to be left behind and get access to learning. Another key learning is the need to give the teaching profession better training in new methods of education delivery, as well as support.
Last but not least, we must not forget that the COVID-19 crisis and the unparalleled education disruption is far from over.
As schools contemplate reopening themselves for traditional classes, there will be a new set of changes made in the way schools approach classroom education while maintaining the norms of safety and social distancing. These decisions made by schools and governments with regard to education during the pandemic will have enormous social and economic consequences. These implications will have lasting effects on educators, children, youth, and societies as a whole.