The world as we know it turned on a dime this past year. So did the education sector and the concept of imparting it. Experienced educators all over the globe faced an abrupt shift in their classroom ecosystem. What used to be a very direct student-teacher connection, has now been divided by screens. How did the education system cope with it? What were the key takeaways?
How did it start?
As with any change, the initial interpretation of online education was not good. Sourcing and getting familiar with digital devices; access to high-speed digital connectivity; learning how edu-tech apps work and using them—all these were the infrastructural issues. Overcoming inherent resistance to online classes and virtual connectivity was the first hurdle teachers faced world over. Most effective strategies that worked in their favour? Being actively engaged, showing compassion, and exhibiting empathy, and trust towards students.
The choices also were clear. Either try to master the technology and make the experience exciting for students, or cope with the lack of skills and offer an average experience. The former option was the best course of action.
How is it going?
Teachers have moved on and realized that the virtual medium gives more room for students. It creates more space for creativity and innovation as compared to the older static model. This can be effectively supported by adding video resources to existing course book content. Students can also explore their fields of interest in more detail. This in turn helps students developing additional capabilities. This also offers more scope for interactive experiences for students. The challenges here are what we’ll move to next.
How it will pan out?
The future is all about the challenges to overcome in the coming days. To spend the dedicated time that helps teachers evaluate students is also restricted. As the initial attention is moving, it is about ensuring that students get an exceptional experience as they settle down with online learning.
What are the current challenges?
Digital Divide: Still growing strong
Even after almost a year of digital education, many students face problems signing in. The data accumulation of how many students are not able to connect effectively and what are the associated challenges is also a process that is lacking in most places. Data suggests that during the start of the pandemic at least 25 percent of households with school-going children lacked either high-speed Wi-Fi, a computer, or both. This figure has improved but the pace of improvement still remains a concern.
Engaging Kids: How difficult is it
Schools serious about student education are using all available resources of communication for effective education. The major factor here is developing meaningful relationships with students. Social and emotional learning is key to the current ecosystem. Effective discussions over email, social media, calls, and with the help of YouTube videos and podcasts are essential with both parents and students.
Digital Teaching: Right kind of support
It is essential that teachers also get the right kind of support for effective digital teaching. A well-planned merge of video lessons, interactive classroom sessions, and software-based practice has to be given to the teachers to aid them. Tips on how to plan and re-create the classroom ecosystem are also essential. Practicing these regularly is key.
Students Lagging Behind: Can they catch up?
As with every change, there are few who thrive and few who don’t. Same with the case of digital education. There are a few students who are struggling with it. For them, getting focused attention and dedicated assistance is harder too. To enable such students to perform better and catch up over what is being covered is also something that should be paid attention to.
Digital education, hence, is still a baby that needs to be nurtured to become a success story. How every teacher opts to do it is both personal to them and their students. Whether it’ll be a norm and up to what extent is still a question that does not have a definite answer. The benefits of the same should still be retained in case schools go back to the old ecosystem.