No matter where you live, how rich you are, or how powerful, you’re surely feeling the wrath of the novel Coronavirus right now. It came out of nowhere and, in a matter of a few months, had managed to hold the entire world hostage. Humanity had to adapt to this deadly threat quickly, and thanks to the technological advances we’ve made over the years, we’ve done quite well this time.
With no vaccine in sight, the only way to curb the spread of this pandemic has been to practice social distancing and self-isolation. In such dire circumstances, had it not been for remote working, the entire world economy would have been brought to a halt. Sure, we’re suffering a setback right now, but it could’ve been much worse. That said, the major concern during this crisis then has been to ensure things run as smoothly as they can, and one major area of concern has been education.
Compromising the education of children, the future of the country, is not an option. The next school year is tied with the previous, and if any school year is affected, the graduation of students can be delayed, and what this means for the country is a decrease in people entering the workforce. This, in turn, means a greater number of dependents and, of course, a decrease in economic growth. It’s no surprise then that developing tools for remote education is a top priority right now. It’s been a big challenge to all involved, and everyone is learning along the way on how to do this better. So let’s look into what’s happening and what it means for the future of education.
The Major Challenges
Remote learning is only possible through an internet connection, and so, the biggest challenge facing the country right now is the lack of infrastructure in place along with limited access to this precious resource.
A large number of students do not have internet access in their homes. Internet connection does not come cheap, which is one reason why people do not have it. Some internet service providers, though, are offering great deals for students, so if you’re struggling, you might want to give Spectrum mobile customer service a call. But this is not the only reason why people don’t have a subscription to this basic necessity.
The other reason is that they simply don’t have it in their area. The worst affected in this case are people living in rural areas. Even when they do have a connection, chances are it’s too slow to stream classes. And, when you factor in that more and more people will be online, the strain it puts on the infrastructure, in turn, leads to even slower speeds.
In these trying times, it’s the people struggling most that find themselves cast to the side. Students with special needs require extra attention and care. The kind of services they need is more often only deliverable in person. Technology can only help them so far, and so these students will struggle the most during the crisis.
Add to this the challenge of developing new software and installing the necessary infrastructure that is essential for this new model to work.
The Steps to Adapting
Even if we were able to develop the software and infrastructure and provide each child access to the internet, this transition to remote learning just wouldn’t happen overnight.
The first step thus to adapting the remote learning model then has been to first help teachers learn how to conduct lessons online.
In the School District of Philadelphia, most educators had never used Google Classroom before the pandemic. Teachers were thus told to help students to take it slow with review and enrichment and not to teach new material till early May. On the other hand, when Miami-Dade Public Schools were faced with closure, the country’s fourth-largest school district decided to roll out a smorgasbord of online instructional material like webinars and third-party ed-tech resources. Each district is figuring out what works best for them and what their existing systems can support.
What the Future Holds
Currently, remote learning for extended periods of time is still under debate. Given the vaccine could take anywhere between 12 to 18 months, though, this may be the only option there is, which is why we must adapt and fast. Developing easy to use educational software and tools is the need of the hour, and investing time training teachers to effectively work the online classroom is essential. By the time we get the virus under control, though, we may be seeing permanent changes to how classrooms function. As it were digital component had swept into the classroom though it can’t be denied that the current pandemic has played the role of catalyst. Only time will tell, however, what the future holds.