The COVID-19 pandemic was the most disruptive period to education ever seen with 1.6 billion students in over 190 countries severely affected by school closure (UNESCO, 2021). Teachers around the world had to adapt quickly to maintain learning continuity as classes moved almost overnight to online platforms, with pedagogy innovations that included creating videos and engaging content for a variety of platforms such as Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams and YouTube. Beyond pedagogy innovations, teachers took care of students from multiple perspectives such as social support and dealing with isolation.
With schools opening up and the world gradually returning to normal, it is essential these positive changes aren’t completely lost.
The COVID-19 crisis identified four major issues:
1. Infrastructure and connectivity issues
At the start of the crisis, half of the total number of learners (826 million students) kept out of the classroom by the COVID-19 pandemic, did not have access to a household computer and 43% (706 million) had no internet at home. (UNESCO Report, Apr 2020)
2. Digital competence and skill sets
Teachers were required to deliver effective online lessons with little or no training or support.
3. Replicating face to face teaching with online tools
Traditional methods of teaching are often disrupted by technological capabilities.
4. Organisation of school
Developing content that could be delivered online in a short space of time, along with ensuring privacy policies were up to date and adhered .
What can be done to develop innovation and improve outcomes?
1. Essential to capture and share progress
Sharing experiences and success stories fosters a community of innovators, making it possible for learners to access education in various circumstances.
2. Reflect on digital assessment and personalised learning and the role of emerging technologies
Digital assessment could present opportunities in encouraging relevant digital skills and capturing data to diagnose and address learning gaps.
3. Inclusion at the centre of policies
Focus on the rights of children to education. The digital divide has highlighted the inequalities faced by a significant number of students.
4. Reflect on whether the current curriculum is fit for purpose
Online teaching has highlighted shortfalls in current set up and the type of content on offer. Autonomous education systems could be more appropriate moving forward with intrinsic motivation and problem solving at the heart of learning.
5. Avoid a move to a full technology approach
Technology should be used to help teachers, not replace. Reflect where technology can make a real and positive difference.
With challenges comes opportunities
Poor infrastructure and connectivity, inadequate technology skills and lack of digital resources have presented challenges for a long time, with COVID-19 revealing the tangible impact of these issues. However now there is a real opportunity for positive change and a momentum to improve the outcomes for all students by ensuring we capture and build on the hard work, dedication and innovation shown by teachers around the world.
Get in touch and share your lessons from lockdown. What worked for you and what didn't? How do you share knowledge and develop systems, through social media or other forums? We're interested in hearing your stories!