When unexpected events hit the world, humanity can come to terms with unusual things at an unforeseen pace.
It is a phenomenon that has only been widely seen and accepted in certain echelons of society until now, where senior professionals and highly touted technicians, mostly from the millennial group, continued their education by catching up on lectures. foreign universities, at odd hours and in all sorts of unusual places, so that their work schedule is not disrupted. This has also been seen in a handful of global schools, giving Gen Z a taste of the future of education, offering periodic virtual lectures and online assignments. Beyond that, the mention of online education would have sounded like the fanciful imagination of a techie.
A rarity that has become commonplace – overnight
When unexpected events hit the world, humanity can come to terms with unusual things at an unforeseen pace. COVID-19 is a tsunami that has turned our world upside down and forced us to change the way we live, work, shop, play, entertain, socialize…and also the way we learn. For all time. With ourselves and our family members locked in homes for security reasons, everything suddenly revolved around the only connection we had to the rest of the world: the internet. Parents also had to accept that their children’s education, which had hitherto been seen as something that cannot be taken away from a physical classroom, had to become virtual. So, in no time, all schools jumped on the online bandwagon and teacher-centered pedagogy shifted to student-centered lesson plans and delivery mechanisms, including classrooms virtual classrooms, online assignments and tests, webinars and electronic forums and video meetings with parents, to name a few.
The new normal
The changes wrought by the threat of Covid-19 are so revolutionary in education that even 3 decades of deliberation would not have achieved what was achieved in less than 3 weeks of lockdown. Teachers prepared lesson plans on worksheets while schools helped them make illustrative PowerPoint presentations using graphics and videos to help students understand new concepts. Innovative educational techniques such as flipped and collaborative learning, presented as part of Education 4.0, were practiced with great ease in all schools today.
The changes have become comprehensive, as not only has learning become interactive with the active participation of students, but even parents have begun to recognize the benefits of virtual learning. Their apprehensions turned into appreciations overnight, as they saw for themselves the extra effort teachers put into explaining the concepts on a virtual platform. The learning loop was also completed as real-time revisions of lessons and sorting out doubts were also possible like that of a real classroom. Above all, parents now feel that they are part of their children’s education.
One of the major secondary benefits of online education was that schools could also foster greater student involvement in co-curricular and extracurricular activities. By virtue of online participation, even the most timid get out and showcase their creative abilities without the usual jitters, as the comforts of home remove their inhibitions. It also encourages them to do the proactive groundwork on every extracurricular activity. Cross-campus events across countries, such as the Global Student Exchange program conducted by Global Indian International School (GIIS), involving students from its 12 campuses in 5 countries, are now quite normal. Such events will help students interact with their peers, discuss, debate, deliberate, collaborate, and learn best trends and practices from around the world.
Geography is history
This is an aspect of online education that would appeal to any utopian: the online mode breaks down all barriers in terms of digital, demographic or geographic divide. Today, it is much easier to bring the same high quality education to curious minds in every nook and corner of the country than to children in the metropolises, making it easily accessible to all classes of society.
Being able to learn from the comfort of home allows many students to do well in their studies, as opportunities for distractions are minimized in the controlled environment of a home study room. The quality of learning goes up several notches. Also, as with most things online, education takes a big boost when students learn to explore the huge repository of reference materials and learning tools available online to supplement their learning. The net result is that students and parents find online education to be a much more enhanced form of learning.