The COVID-19 crisis had a major impact on the global education sector. And even as the pandemic slowly subsides and things return to “normal,” there’s no denying the impact of the virus on our modern way of life will persist for years to come.
Let’s talk about learning. Both students and teachers need to adapt to the demands of the new normal and realize that education may be a little different than it used to be. For example, as online learning takes on a new frontier, cyber security for both teachers and students is now a more significant issue than before. The pandemic has dramatically changed the digital landscape and directly impacted the way we learn.
How the Pandemic Affected Education
Most governments decided to temporarily halt face-to-face learning to curb the spread of COVID-19 at its peak. In January 2021, approximately 825 million learners were affected by school closures in response to the pandemic. According to UNICEF, 23 countries simultaneously implemented nationwide lockdowns, and 40 enforced local lockdowns, affecting about 47% of the global student population.
Families with fewer financial resources were highly affected by school closures. Online educational programs shifted the job of teaching from schools to families and individuals, resulting in greater challenges for those who relied on schools as caretakers for their children.
Daycare and school closures affected students, teachers, and families and had far-reaching economic and social impacts. School closures shed light on a range of social and economic issues, including the digital gap, food insecurity, homelessness, childcare costs, healthcare disparities, and lack of access to disability services. The impact on disadvantaged children and their families is more severe, leading to learning interruptions, malnutrition, childcare problems, and the resulting economic costs for families unable to work.
The following learning trends emerged following the decline of the pandemic. They are reshaping the education scene in many places.
Individual learning has been on the rise in recent years. It aims to tailor education to each student’s strengths and weaknesses, needs, abilities, and interests. It encourages student progress so that each child can move at an appropriate pace, and no one is left behind.
In a flipped classroom, teachers share material with students in advance so that they can review it at home and discuss the topic the following day. Teachers can also focus on individualized instruction for students. Such interactive learning models improve problem-solving skills.
Students can work in groups, analyze material in depth, take comprehension tests, and collaborate with teachers and students on individual tasks. Inverting the classroom creates an active environment where students can learn at their own pace.
Flipped classrooms combine online and face-to-face classes to provide an unparalleled educational experience. Schools that have adopted a flipped learning model use artificial intelligence to help students boost their strengths and focus on their weaknesses. AI-powered classrooms also allow teachers to tailor learning materials to student needs, giving equal attention to fast and slow learners.
Online learning is not disappearing. However, it is also not subject to be the dominant form of education. Schools around the world have reopened. However, a hybrid form of learning, where teachers teach both online and offline, will prevail. In the first months and possibly years after the pandemic, a mix of remote and face-to-face classes is useful to minimize the risk of infection and to ensure access to education for high-risk groups.
The novel coronavirus impacted education systems around the world. Schools, colleges, and universities closed down to curb the spread of the virus, which created challenges for students, teachers, and parents. Distance learning is, therefore, a solution for ensuring some form of continuity. However, a lack of internet infrastructure, computers, and digital materials poses challenges for distance learning in developing countries. Here, security and privacy are also major issues.
As such, countries need to develop strategies to use educational technology, digital resources, and more to prepare for the next time things grind to a halt. Many governments are looking into alternate methods, such as educational television programs. They are also equipping students with laptops and tablets so they won’t have to share devices with their siblings and parents. Suffice it to say, the modern education landscape might look very different in a few short years.