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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the largest disruption of education in history, having a universal impact on learners and teachers around the world. With most governments imposing a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the global pandemic, educational institutions across the world were forced to close down and students were forced to remain at home. The crisis continued month after month and there was no end in sight. But schools could be kept shut forever; education had to continue. This led education stakeholders to think about alternative ways of providing education to ensure the continuity of teaching and learning. As a result, most countries rushed to online distance education using online platforms, e-learning, and ICTs, etc. which set off an unplanned and rapid shift in the education sector.

On the other hand, this crisis has stimulated innovation within the education sector and provided a unique opportunity for the education stakeholders to re-imagine education. Some immediate measures included shifting teaching process online on an unprecedented scale, conducting online assessments, creating content suitable for remote learning using technology and tools among others.

So here, we take a look at how the pandemic has fundamentally changed the education and what changes we will see in the future.

  • With lockdown, schools, colleges, and universities were forced to bring their courses online, whereby teaching is undertaken remotely and on digital platforms. This move has changed the concept of education overnight, and digital learning has emerged as the new normal everywhere.
  • During the lockdown, the government used the electronic media to ensure learning continuity for students. Some state governments have been working with Doordarshan and All India Radio to broadcast virtual classes and educational content through their regional channels.
  • School closures have necessitated changes in how students are evaluated. Examinations have been replaced by innovative continuous assessments using online testing methods.
  • Parental support in setting a space for learning, monitoring the progress and encouraging the student to set and achieve daily goals.
  • Parent-teacher meetings are being held virtually.
  • Many coding classes sprung up offering online coaching to young children

 However, transitioning to an ‘online mode’ has had its share of  challenges.

  • limited access to the Internet
  • lack of uninterrupted power supply
  • ill-equipped teachers, especially in rural areas
  • unavailability of physical space where students can attend online classes without distractions
  • hindrances to creating rapport between teacher and students in an online world
  • increase in screen-time
  • unavailability of tools to create content in regional languages.
  • compromised nutrition for disadvantaged children
  • childcare problems and consequent economic cost to families who cannot work
  • Challenges in assessing and validating learning

Classrooms of the future

As schools remain closed, children miss out on social interaction that is essential to learning and development. The pandemic has made it clear just how vital the role of a teacher is. The purpose of a teacher is not merely transferring knowledge, but also ensuring that every student is supported and emotionally cared for. A strong sense of wellbeing provides children with confidence and optimism which maximise their learning potential. As they experience being cared for by educators, they become aware of the importance of living and learning interdependently with others.

Teachers worked hard to make the transition to online teaching, embracing digital tools and resources. Their expertise and confidence in using these tools has increased and most of them are likely to continue using these resources even after school reopens. So when learning moves back to the classroom, many schools are likely to adopt a model that blends classroom and online learning in a way that works best for both students and teachers.

Will artificial intelligence and coding courses be considered as essential for students?

The truth is that not everyone can be coders and not everyone should be coders. It is more important for children to explore all the various areas in Math and Science before turning them into ‘expert’ coders. The more open-ended and interactive math and science activities are, the better for the child’s learning and sustained interest. Early Coding is a beautiful and elegant box, but with limited options. Moreover spending too much time in front of the computer screen takes them away from other activities like playing and interacting with other children.

Role of an educator in a post pandemic classroom

The role of the teacher will be redefined. As students all over have become skilled in gaining information with just a few clicks, the role of a teacher in the classroom of tomorrow will be more that of a facilitator of learning in the minds of the taught and a catalyst for knowledge, providing the right stimulus  to ensure the all round development of the students.

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