2020 was a challenging year, to say the least. The Covid-19 pandemic caught us off guard and all sectors and institutions were impacted. The sad part is that even if we’re well into 2021, things have not changed much and some industries are still very affected by the pandemic. While most sectors have been negatively affected, others have seen long-overdue improvements. Education is one of them.
How the Covid pandemic affected education
When the pandemic started, almost the entire world went into lockdown, and schools were closed. This kick-started a sort of revolution. Although great improvements had been made in the education sector, not everyone was on board with all the technological advancements and the new apps that were available on the internet.
Even though they were meant to make education more fun and more attractive for both students and teachers, people were still skeptical. Covid changed all that. It forced everyone to turn to their laptops, tablets, or phones to be able to teach or be taught.
In January 2021, more than 800 million learners were still being affected by the pandemic, as schools were still closed. Seeking to minimize community spread, authorities all over the world tried to find the best way to still help children continue their education, while at the same time keeping them safe from the virus. And technology came to help.
Steps that have been taken to adapt to the new situation
Adapting to this new situation has not been easy. It’s very challenging to change your entire system, to be able to adapt to the new norms. But teachers and students appear to have managed this transition quite successfully. Of course, there are still people who struggle with access to resources, but they are very few and efforts are being made to ensure that everyone gets a chance to continue learning.
Technology has been around for years and it is a very useful tool that makes our everyday lives easier, but the education system didn’t necessarily need it as much as it does now. Of course, the foundation system is still the same – teachers still instruct groups of students, who learn to be able to function as members of society. But the way these interactions happen has changed considerably.
When Covid-19 first struck, all the schools closed. We didn’t know how this virus affected us and how it was spread. So, lockdowns were instituted to protect the population. But then, we slowly realized that it wasn’t really necessary to close everything down and that education could still continue its course.
It just had to happen in a new environment – online, from the comfort of our own homes. The best part of it all was that most of us already had the necessary things in place – an internet connection and a device which we could use to attend classes.
For those who didn’t have these resources, institutions around the world tried to cover their needs as much as possible, offering them tablets or laptops that would allow everyone to have access to education.
Another important step that was taken was that teachers who didn’t have as much experience with online classes were instructed and helped to better understand how to use technology to their advantage. Basically, to minimize educational disruptions, schools have turned to remote learning. To maintain a proper level of education, teachers have developed new strategies or better implemented the ones that were already available to them. And at the center of these new learning strategies lies technology.
5 ways technology has improved education
The great advancements in technology have changed the face of education. Although, as I said before, the basic principles are the same, how students are now taught is very different. Technology has now become essential for education. Here are a few ways in which technology impacts education:
- it simplifies access to education resources: what years ago seemed like an impossible task is now at our fingertips. With the help of technology, we are now able to access any and all information that we may need in just a few seconds and this is a valuable asset, especially when it comes to online education.
- it improves the learning experience: although some might not feel the same way, technology has made education more attractive to kids who otherwise might not have been as interested in it. The use of gadgets is not only useful, but it is also fun, and that makes education more interesting to children.
- it allows students to learn at their own pace: this makes students less frustrated and more engaged, more interested in learning better the things they are interested in. Not feeling left out or behind one’s classmates helps students greatly. As it is usually this feeling of being behind everyone else that prevents kids from fulfilling their potential. Luckily this is not the case anymore, as each student is evaluated individually and they can spend as much time as they need on a certain subject.
- it prepares students for the future: technology allows students to learn subjects even outside of their classroom. This helps them understand better the subjects they are already learning and it makes the learning process easier, more attainable. Not only that, but being able to learn more things at the same time allows students to develop skills that will come in handy in the future – they can learn how they can run their own business, for instance. Also, technology in itself is an essential life skill.
- it provides a plethora of applications: as we have discussed, the new teaching situation has allowed for a lot of improvements in what concerns the teaching methods. This is how new apps have come to be indispensable for both teachers and students. Flipsnack, Kahoot!, Prezi, and Class Dojo are only a few of the apps that offer students and teachers great opportunities to improve the overall teaching and learning experiences.
Is online education sustainable?
The short answer is yes. BUT! It depends on a lot of factors. We have to make sure that all students have equal access to online education. Regardless of how it is done, it needs to be done nonetheless.
There are still plenty of children who do not have the necessary resources to connect to their online classes. Whether it’s their poor internet connection or their lack of gadgets, these are things that need to be solved if we want to make online education sustainable.
But if we manage to solve these problems, online learning can be our future. Technology allows us to experience more in pedagogy and it also allows for instant feedback, which is very useful. Not to mention the number of resources we now have access to and the fact that we can now attend any school in the world without ever leaving our home.
While the social factor is also important and it might be one of the reasons why online education may not be sustainable, I think that maybe a mix of online and offline classes is the key to a more successful education strategy.
Technology is without a doubt one of the best things. It not only provides ample entertainment opportunities, but it is an indispensable tool for work and education. And if it’s one thing we’ve learned from this pandemic is that having an internet connection is a blessing.
Being able to reach family and friends all over the world during the lockdown, being able to work remotely, and getting an education are valuable things that we take for granted. I think that the pandemic has taught us that it is time to invest more in the right infrastructure and that it’s high time we left old ways behind. We should take advantage of the situation and understand that technology is the way of the future.
The change has already started, we just have to learn to adapt and to invest where it matters most – in the education of our children, as they are our future.