JFK wasn’t quite correct when he popularised the idea that the Chinese word for ‘crisis’ was formed of characters for ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity,’ but the idea has stuck for a reason. Students from schools all over the world are making the most of their education in spite of the challenges COVID has presented, and one of the pandemic’s silver linings is that people have been spurred towards innovation— especially in education.
“If we want everything to stay as it is,” said Tancredi in the classic novel The Leopard, “everything has to change.” And so it has. Here are some prominent transitions.
1. Safety Measures
For those students now back in the brick-and-mortar classrooms, schools have found creative ways to highlight safety. In Oakland Hebrew Day School ‘the wheels on the bus’ has had lyrics change to ones about wearing masks and keeping distance. In addition, testing is often routine, and equipment is carefully assigned to avoid cross-contamination.
2. Multiple Options
Since the subjects in question involve so much hands-on experience, a simple Zoom class was never going to be the best solution for trade schools. Vancouver Community College is an illustration of a trade school that has managed to continue programs even under COVID restrictions. Students used options like video conferencing tools, took practice materials like mannequins home, used GoPros and, impressively, even made use of a virtual reality system.
3. Adaptable Materials
Few would deny that primary education is an important foundation for the rest of a student’s life. However, COVID has interrupted what could have been important years for learning and socialising. Bridge International Academies is a shining example of adapting to the pandemic. The group has implemented sweeping digital programs including activities and courses across its network, as well as safety measures for traditional offline teaching. To maximise access, Bridge has developed materials that can be downloaded and printed, completed with minimal data, or even via SMS. It goes to show that high quality education can still be achieved during tough times, and doesn’t need to be unaffordable or limited to schools in the global North.
4. National Programs
Government education departments around the world have responded differently depending on their priorities and capacity. South Korea had the advantage of already having one of the better communications infrastructures. The Moon administration hasn’t been complacent, with the country’s long-standing focus on education spurring it to expand e-learning infrastructure, assist teachers and parents, and ensure tech access with rental schemes and private cooperation.
5. More Creative Learning
Finland had already been increasing technological capabilities where appropriate, but perhaps more importantly has a community focus between parents, students and teachers with an emphasis on well-being. Although less centralized than many countries, two tools of emphasis in Finnish education have been more formative assessments and outdoor activities.
6. Transformation In Digital Toolsets
The potential in remote learning has been maturing for years, and more people have been taking advantage of that in student-centered ways. It’s now normal for a teacher to ask students to go and create a deck of slides, or a video, to bring to class — things many teachers hadn’t attempted prior to COVID.
It’s a cliché at this point, but the ‘new normal’ is something we’re finally achieving after years of much slower technological adaptation. According to TechCrunch, in less restrictive conditions, digital can soon be viewed as complementary to analog, rather than its opposite.
Submitted by Gabriella Madison for mycism.com