Education has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic with 1.53 billion learners out of school and 184 country-wide school closures, impacting 87.6% of the world’s total enrolled learners As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded this year, necessitating a range of unprecedented social isolation and safety measures, barely any aspect of daily life was left unaffected. One area which has certainly seen considerable changes as a result of COVID-19 is the education sector. When schools and universities around the world were forced to close their doors to prevent its spread, alternative methods and technologies had to be adopted almost overnight. Online learning became an urgent necessity, rather than an option. To sum up, education has changed dramatically, with the distinctive rise of e-learning, whereby teaching is undertaken remotely and on digital platforms. In this article I have tried, to share the sudden shift away from the classroom and how it has affected people. Here I have summarised the story of two such schools, How adoption of online learning changed the scenario of education system in their campuses and will continue to persist post-pandemic, and how such a shift would impact their education goals.
When interviewed, Apurva Pathak and Trushit Shah trustees of Saraswat International Academy, Vapi & Vedaant Multipurpose School, Magod.
Apurva Pathak quoted, The UN Sustainable Development Goals, is a blueprint for creating a more just world, and has named “quality education” as its fourth goal. Keeping that in mind, our main target is ensuring that, our children have the means to complete, “equitable and quality primary and secondary education.” It’s a monumental goal. At this crucial times, educating children is far more complex than just getting them into a classroom. Teachers had to be updated with online forum of e learning, Students needed to get familiarize with online portals, Parents needed to be regularly updated with changes in teaching methodology, and the list was endless. We invested more in teaching and learning technology and incorporate it, into day-to-day working that engages and helps students to better solidify and retain knowledge. We forced our Teaching staff to familiarize themselves with a range of online platforms in order to deliver entire courses on a fully remote basis. Simultaneously we used Google, Zoom and U tube apps to meet this new demand, which quickly incorporating functions such as video-conferencing to their Classrooms services.
As soon as Lockdown, was announced our school immediately set up an E learning platform with content for every learner and teaching technology for every tutor and educational institution. We have been providing e-learning for both schools, test preparation, skill development, and examination preparation, with courses that cater from the Age 2 to 70. What stands apart from the cluster of other institutions, is that we have a simplified and completely free model that has made quality education available to everyone, everywhere.
Trushit Shah further explained, with the extensive and robust 4G Network and affordable data, in virtually every part of the country. Even more impressive is the smartphone adoption, which further accelerates the adoption of learning infrastructure. Due to digital technology with easy access to the internet has brought remote learning opportunities, virtual classrooms, and access to high-quality education even in rural and semi-urban locations like us. In the current scenario, elements such as location, language and financial resources are no longer a barrier to avail excellent education. This has been an ideal time for us to experiment and accept technology and make education delivery seamless for learning. Overall, E Learning holds excellent potential for us, and it may change the landscape of education forever. For schools like us, utilizing innovative technology has played a huge role in enabling quality education, which shall be accessible to all. We are now looking forward to adopt VR and AR technology to evolve from the traditional model and build a robust online infrastructure. However the sudden shift from classroom learning to e-learning has been quite challenging not just for the educational institutions and teachers but also for parents and students. Balancing the needs of all has been quite a mammoth task. Institutions have been grappling to get a hold of this new mode of learning, starting from conducting live lectures via third-party apps, to uploading study material, and the imperative need of connectivity. To bridge this gap, apart from their existing learning platform, emphasis were made to facilitate both teachers and students with a platform where they can interact, through the digital medium for further learning. In future the institution plans up to come up with versatile online learning, administrating, teaching and communication tools. Under this app, teachers and institutions, can upload courses, create virtual classrooms for live teaching, share assignments, collect responses, create exams, and track progress/attendance all on one interface. The app blends learning and Live teaching in HD with an integrated virtual classroom, enabling 2-way video and phone call option, whiteboard teaching, screen sharing, chats as well as lecture recording. Designed with the individual dashboard; admin, teachers, students, parents, each of them having access to tools to moderate and monitor.
To conclude, looking at current scenario, the course of learning and the way curriculums are taught may change. Aspects that were once considered fundamental to education may be revised to largely accommodate life skills of the future. Not just careers, but residents of the future as well will require skills like resilience, adaptability, collaboration, communication, empathy, creativity and emotional intelligence. Learning in schools will have a new purpose, and it will be a major deviation from the information-focused education of today. Approaches like integrated learning and experiential learning, with greater implementation of technology, will power the future the education in schools. In the face of a crippling pandemic, technology has emerged as a major lifesaver. Communication is a major key to our interconnected existence and technology is the driving force that maintains our connections. For education, that means creating content and delivery systems that harness and utilize technology to its fullest. Perhaps, education may become more flexible and accessible, relinquishing its over-reliance on rigid structures that we currently consider necessary. Additionally, the current generations of school students are generation Z and alpha. They are generations that are defined by their use of technology; it has become an extension of their consciousness and they do not know a world without it. The future of education will find no room to ignore the utilization of technology since it may very well be the best platform to empower learning in an age that is integrating technology as a way of life. These generations could influence the evolution of education, as they themselves are the ones majorly impacted by the pandemic and are in the best position to learn and grow from it. The world could require a different focus tomorrow than it does today. Perhaps, education post-Covid- 19 will embrace learnings from science and emphasize a greater focus on issues that endanger our health, society, life and earth. Perhaps, the world may never go back to what it was pre-pandemic. But we can count on it to adapt to the future, irrespective of what it contains.