As the COVID-19 virus escalated into a global pandemic from the beginning of last year, the education sectors all over the world had to make the difficult decision to shut their doors—forcing a sudden and almost universal shift to online learning, which was disruptive for teachers, students, and parents. The closure of schools and universities have greatly affected the education of around 1.3-1.5 billion students across the globe.
Due to this, governments around the world are striving to mitigate the adverse impact of school closures, particularly for more marginalised and vulnerable populations, and to promote the continuity of education through remote learning for all.
As we are well aware, online learning has been the most sought out solution to the learning disruption caused by the pandemic that is now being implemented worldwide. However, shifting from the traditional classroom to digital platforms was not an easy process. The sudden change to online education for teachers has meant rethinking lesson plans to fit a very different format and environment.
Curriculums had to be reevaluated so it could be taught online, as physical lessons were dependent on both the educator and students being physically present. Teachers, students and parents had to familiarize the usage of online digital platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype and more as these were utilized to carry out virtual lessons. Although learning through online platforms has existed for quite some time, the pandemic has indeed accelerated its usage putting digital technology at the heart of education for the very first time.
How will these new digital and technological methods affect the education process?
Additionally, the response to the coronavirus has proven how technology can help transform the education process. Digital platforms, new technological innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI), digital devices and online tools will help transform the roles and relationships between students, teachers and parents.
Students will be encouraged to learn at their own pace in a flexible, often collaborative manner, be it within or outside the classroom. They will be able to follow their own interests and be challenged where appropriate.
Teachers will have access to individualised real-time information as to how well each of their students is progressing, scholastically and emotionally, so that they can develop new challenges and provide adequate guidance to advance with each student.
Parents on the other hand will be better connected and involved with their child’s education with more assurance, detail, and confidence.
What will the future of education look like after this pandemic?
In the midst of the ongoing pandemic, educators around the world will need to shift their focus to determine ways to better prepare their students for the future.
1. Utilizing technology to deliver education
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed educational institutions around the world to unexpectedly leverage and use the array of technical resources available to develop remote learning material for students in all sectors. Educators around the world are experiencing and learning new ways to educate differently and with greater versatility, resulting in future advantages for students around the world in terms of accessibility to education. Online learning could possibly be a key component in delivering education in the near future, be it inside or outside of classrooms.
2. Redefining the role of the educator
The idea of an educator as a knowledge-holder who conveys wisdom to his/her students is no longer sufficient for the purpose of 21st-century education. This is so because students are now able to gain access to knowledge and learn technical skills with ease by browsing through their mobile devices, tablets and computers. As such, the role of the educator in the classroom and lecture theatres will need to be redefined. This may mean that the role of an educator will need to shift towards promoting the growth of young people as contributing members of society.
3. Teaching life skills needed for the future
In this ever-evolving global environment, young people require resilience and adaptability – skills that are proving to be essential to navigate effectively through this pandemic and beyond. Some significant skills that employers in the future will be on the look out for are soft skills such as creativity, communication and collaboration, alongside empathy and emotional intelligence; and being able to work with various people and differences through effective teamwork.
Glancing into the future, digital technology will play an important and significant role in the future of education. New innovations will indeed enrich the teaching and learning process making lessons more dynamic, engaging, flexible and more accessible. Educators will also have to acquaint themselves with the current new technologies and determine the best possible ways to deliver quality education through online learning. Adapting to online learning will also pave the way for undisrupted education in the future, thus preparing students and teachers for any new uncertainties and crises to come.