We see articles flourishing media stating online education has not lived up to its potential and has not supported the purpose of education.
So does this mean that the standard of education is declining due to online mode?
A big ‘No’ from where we stand. Educational facilitators focusing on the well-being of children with an ardent determination for holistic development is the key determinant for quality in online education and growth.
We live in a world that is completely surrounded by technology. A world of apps, augmented reality and artificial intelligence. Though existing in cyber space during onsite school, it was not the primary mode of education. In today’s world it is something without which we cannot function.
Online education has made people travel and yet be a part of education in a comfortable semi formal atmosphere. As we say, “we learn from our travels” . But now travelling is no longer restricted to the autumn, winter, spring or summer breaks, because digital platforms have literally made international education possible. We are catering to the needs of children in Dubai, Japan , USA and China. These are the international travellers who despite being the youngest section of primary school have built it into their system that learning must go on. The students are not missing out on education even when they are travelling to different countries.
Suddenly, the cyber world of teaching facilities which was hidden or under explored, though always available, lay waiting to be discovered and explored.
Teachers started exploring multiple websites like Prezi, Nearpod, Weebly, Live Binders, Wiki spaces, Edutopia, Keepvid and many more. The list is endless. Their curious inquiring young minds made learners explore the same with excellence.
How could ICT apps stay far behind?
iMovie, Garage Band, Flip Grid, Kahoot, Quizlet, Math Duel, Sketchpad, Toontastic, Shapego and other wonders awaited young all in all a treasure island.
Learners created their own system for presentation and the physical pen and paper took shape digitally. A crayon and colour pencil was replaced by pain.net and a digital paint brush.
Learning centres in the classroom took the shape of bitmoji virtual classrooms (where there are learning centres which are accessible by a click; bitmojis being a part of the classroom setting) where every child could explore and revisit the understanding.
Physical surveys conducted by students leading to higher order questioning skills were earlier restricted to people in the vicinity with adult supervision. Todays advanced mode of digital learning has made virtual surveys possible with the support of survey tools like google forms, mentimeter, polleverywhere, etc. The biggest advantage of digital surveys – They reach across borders beyond imagination.
Therefore, this 360 degree transformation in the teaching and learning process did not create a barrier for students to investigate, create, communicate, collaborate, organise and be responsible for their learning and action keeping digital citizenship in mind.
All this and much more was made possible and achievable through the virtual classrooms starting from ‘google meet’ and transitioning to ‘zoom.’
These video conferencing apps made the learner feel the presence of others and create a world for himself and herself.
‘Change ‘ is the only thing which is inevitable and constant. The faster we adapt and the more we are open to suggestions, the better we are attuned to change. This leads us to a growth mindset.
Earlier, travelling abroad for an inter-school collaboration was a feasible idea only for the older age groupof students. This is now possible sitting in the comforts of their home for the younger age group. Making IB as an extended joint family has become possible only due to online teaching and learning experiences.
Game based learning using sensory organs created a whirl of a difference for resources in teaching and learning. Websites focusing on multiple developmental areas are used to give a holistic development to the young inquirer.
We learn faster when we learn in a mixed ability classroom. Have we realised that due to online teaching, enthusiastic parents sat close to their child to understand this new method and unknowingly played a very important role in the education of their child. This is what the school wanted for years, that the parents play an equal role in the education of their child and work in partnership with the school.
Reflecting on the purpose of education, whether it is for knowledge retention, understanding of a concept , analysing and synthesising data, evaluating achievements or applying the acquired understanding, everything is possible today in the new normal.
Then how can we say that the standard of education is declining due to online education? It is we adults who have not spent our growing years in this type of a world filled with artificial intelligence which makes us filter the thoughts into a young mind on impossibility. Have we pondered and given an open choice to a young learner? Or is it our thoughts and experiences which are creating a barrier in communication for them?
We often hear people say that ‘Today’s generation kids have a computer chip in their mind and are so quick to adapt to technology.’ So where is the problem in this new world
education system, which has made us go online and has catered to the needs of one and all in every aspect of life?
By Ms Bushra Khan
The author is the PYP Coordinator and Head of Primary at Mount Litera School International
(Disclaimer: Brand desk content)