The sudden transformation in the global education system in this 21st century has been brought about by a virus. The pandemic radically changed how millions of students are educated around the globe as schools and universities had to be shut down on short notice and had to adapt to an alternate operating model to sustain. According to UNESCO, on April 1st, 2020, schools and colleges were closed in 185 countries affecting more than 1.5 billion learners, constituting 89.4 percent of total students worldwide.
Keeping education continuity in mind, most of the institutes have adapted to the online distance learning model with the help of online platforms, e-learning, and ICTs. This unplanned and rapid shift in the education sector has opened the door to countless opportunities, highlighted existing and new disparities, given rise to several challenges, and also forced people to think about the fundamental shifts that are necessary to adapt to the new normal.
Online Education, which was considered a niche offering available only with a few universities and institutes around the world as an option to increase their target market has now become the primary mode of reaching out to the students. Now it is a must for all the educational institutes to think about spending and investing in their digital capability to survive in this virtual world of academia. Though this arrangement might not look favorable currently, this change looks like something that will stay with us in the future, and hence we need to prepare accordingly.
Keeping education continuity in mind, most of the institutes have adapted to the online distance learning model with the help of online platforms, e-learning, and ICTs.
A need to upgrade the learning model, method, and space: The world of home-based learning has assured us that education can be continued online, at the safety of homes, with the help of online platforms and support from teachers and parents. It also gives us an insight into the model of distance learning, where it can be more personalized and customized according to the students. The students and parents get more time with each other, and the kids also learn interpersonal and self-organization skills. Though we have realized that human contact is necessary for learning, this model makes us think about the need to revisit the model, method, and space we generally associate with education and find the right blend that will benefit the learner.
An opportunity to look into the long-lasting disparity in access and participation: Most of the schools after the pandemic announcement changed their learning mode to distance learning through online platforms. This is leading to willing students not being able to attend classes or participate efficiently. It helps us recognize one of the significant disparities in the system where not everyone has the same access to facilities, and due to which participation is getting hampered. The pandemic has given this connectivity and created an urgency to find a solution. Close to 3 billion people over the world have no internet connection. It makes one think if this is where our priority lies, and we should first take care of this inequality and make sure that everyone has access to an affordable device and connection.
New delivery methods and customized content: Due to lack of proper training and rushed timelines, most of the teachers who started teaching online in urgency were not very keen on this method of learning. They had to make do with the old syllabus and lengthy textbooks and shorten them up for online sessions. But, the right training and the right digitized content perhaps will change this scenario. It is an opportunity to upskill the teachers, the parents, and the students. We are in a digital era, and this is an opportunity to prepare the students for the future and also bring the needed change in the way we view education. Updated curriculum, advanced skill-set, new research methodologies, better international collaborations, and digital innovation which is the need of the hour can be introduced through this method.