If you told me a decade ago, or even ten years ago, that educational institutes will be closed for an entire year, I would have instantly responded with “you’re crazy!” or “yeah… in your dreams!”
But when the pandemic struck, everything impossible or unthinkable became possible.
The education sector is, perhaps, one of the most affected sectors during the global outbreak of Covid-19. Many countries decided to shut down schools, colleges and universities in an attempt to prevent further spread of the virus.
Who would have thought that educational institutes would be closed for an entire year? We bet no one! While the concept of closed schools and colleges did seem like a breath of fresh air at first, the isolation started taking a toll on kids’ mental health along with their families, and the idea of doing everything from the confines of our home got bitter with every passing day.
This was when we started questioning what will happen next. Thanks to the internet, educational activities did not stop and continued on online channels. But again, does it really solve the problem?
If you’re a student, the idea of online classes does seem comfortable and convenient, but we don’t think education providers would agree with that!
Education providers like teachers, school administrations and anyone in authority had to put extra effort to ensure everything runs smoothly. Teachers had to modify the entire curriculum according to digital needs and format; new software were introduced to conduct online exams and whatnot. But let’s be honest, nothing can replace the perks of a psychical classroom.
There are a lot of learning opportunities a student can get from physical interaction with the teacher, classmates and everyone around. Here, lectures are not postponed because of technical glitches, students aren’t put on mute and teachers can have more control over their students than in zoom classes.
Well, let’s just leave the debate about physical classrooms vs online classroom for a later time; instead, let’s discuss how the pandemic affected the operations of education providers:
Students and teachers adapting to campus closures:
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), college-goers – most of whom fall under 29 years of age – are regarded as the least vulnerable population to Covid-19. The China Center for Disease Control estimated that the fatality rate of covid-19 for the 10-39 age group was just around 0.2%.
Coronavirus poses a greater threat to the elderly, like teachers, professors and adult school staff, and also those with underlying health conditions and immunodeficiency.
In addition to safeguarding the wellbeing of elderly staff members, campus closures aimed to prevent coronavirus from spreading. Scientists estimated that college and school campuses could be the hotspots for virus transmission, even if one student tested positive for Covid-19— just like one burning match stick is enough to ignite a massive fire!
With thousands of students assembling at one place, it was almost difficult for school administration to enforce social distancing. So, they were left with only one option: to carry out all the learning activities on online channels.
Amidst all the uncertainties, education providers seem to be most affected by Covid-19. Even now, teachers are struggling to adapt to online platforms while parents are juggling work responsibilities and taking care of their children. And if you’re both a teacher and a parent, then God be with you!
And now that the vaccine is in the picture, things are hopefully getting back to normal. Many countries have even started opening institutions. But the news flash is: we are now used to this new normal.
Switching back to physical classes might be as troublesome as it was to get used to online classes. However, there is a growing consensus that online classes should be continued, considering the accessibility and convenience they have provided to both teachers and students.
Like, we can attend classes in pajamas, or even while lying on the bed. Teachers can’t exercise the same freedoms as students, though; in fact, their life is like hell with an extra load of assignments and papers to grade.
The idea of online education has been accelerated during the pandemic
The pandemic has encouraged the adoption of online learning at all levels of education. While the debate about the need for a physical classroom has been there for a long time, it is the first time online education has been executed on such a large scale.
Obviously, things can go awry when done without planning. Initially, students were struggling with a lack of resources, inaccessibility of the internet, technical issues, schedules while adapting to newly-introduced learning methods.
Meanwhile, the education administration rushed to look for resources and ideas to quickly fill the gaps in their online infrastructure. To put it simply, it was all chaos!
But gradually, with new features and tools, we got used to online learning and everything started to function smoothly. But it’s still unclear whether this latest education model did any good in terms of learning.
Some universities even introduced a “hybrid education model” to minimize the gap of physical interactions between teachers and students. According to this model, classes were held on a dual-mode basis, where a few students attended the class from their homes, while a limited percentage of students attended them physically. This model has so far been effective across all education levels.
But again, just when students and teachers started embracing the online way of learning, authorities decided to open the campuses. Now, students and teachers have to go through this entire transitioning process all over again. Yikes!
Let’s just see how the re-opening of education institutes turns out.