The last few months have drastically affected us all in more ways than we could ever have imagined. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered human engagement, in turn affecting how people set their priorities and future plans. Teachers all over the world are compelled to further discover and delve into the world of technology, as we transition to a new educational system that needs to keep up with the current state of our situation. Amidst these changing times, it is imperative for education to continue as this is a fundamental human right that all of our learners are entitled to. In line with this, our processes and routines must be modified as well to cater to various student needs.
As emergencies catalyze major changes in education, challenges inevitably arise. One of the biggest concerns that the education sector faces is equity and accessibility to education.
In order to address the widespread inequity in terms of access to education during this pandemic, especially in an online set-up that appears to be more challenging as compared to being immersed in a regular physical classroom setting, there are certain steps that must be taken.
First, it would be best to conduct surveys for both teachers and students to determine the readily available resources they have access to. One concrete way of making an inventory of potential school resources that are available is to conduct surveys. These will be useful in deciding upon a school’s delivery mode of learning. If the mode of learning delivery includes advanced technology, teachers should be given financial aid to help them to purchase laptops or computers that will support a technology-driven delivery of learning. Most importantly, teachers should be given ample time to make the necessary preparations to implement specific programs, based on the educational institution they are employed in.
It should be emphasized that students, parents, and teachers should be fully informed about the established programs and guidelines that concern their school’s particular mode of learning. Parents should maintain a good partnership with the school so that they may be guided on what to do for them to be able to make the necessary adjustments needed for their children to adapt to this online set-up on a regular basis, especially since face-to-face classes will not resume in certain parts of the world unless more people get access to the vaccine.
Another huge challenge in online learning is the (2) implementation and validity of the results of assessments. Focusing on grades, rankings, and performing well in large-scale assessments during this time may cause more harm than good to our students. Undue stress in relation to accomplishing and aiming for high marks in summative assessments may negatively impact learners’ mental health. We need to be conscious and aware of the fact that people are still continuously adjusting to what we are currently going through and that everyone is handling the situation differently.
We should give more emphasis to formative assessments as compared to summative assessments in order for students to create meaningful learning experiences, even if our set-up is quite different this time around and physical distancing is still encouraged in specific locations. We should assess with the goal of allowing students to demonstrate what they know in the best way they are capable of doing so. Our feedback should emphasize the students’ capacity to learn independently and to check on their academic progress using various activities.
Times are challenging, but life goes on. We must not hinder our students’ potential growth. Education must continue and we should try our best to overcome adversity. Educators ought to learn how to become more compassionate towards students and make them feel safe, despite not knowing what exactly lies ahead in the future. Educational institutions should prioritize the safety, health, and overall well-being of its stakeholders. Let us continue to make use of the readily available resources we have in order to strengthen existing practices and discover new ones, all in hopes of serving others.
- Barron, M., Cobo, C., Munoz-Najar, A., & Ciarrusta, I. (2021, February 6). The changing role of teachers and technologies amidst the COVID 19 pandemic: key findings from a cross-country study. World Bank Blogs. https://blogs.worldbank.org/education/changing-role-teachers-and-technologies-amidst-covid-19-pandemic-key-findings-cross
- Carvalho, S., & Hares, S. (2020, July 22). Six Ways COVID-19 Will Shape the Future of Education. Center For Global Development. https://www.cgdev.org/blog/six-ways-covid-19-will-shape-future-education
- Inside Higher Ed. (2020, August 19). It’s compassion, not capitulation, to ask less of students amid. https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2020/08/19/it%E2%80%99s-compassion-not-capitulation-ask-less-students-amid-disruption-opinion
- Policy Brief: Education during COVID-19 and beyond. (2020, August). United Nations. https://www.un.org/development/desa/dspd/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/08/sg_policy_brief_covid-19_and_education_august_2020.pdf