Educating Students in new normal; Challenges and Opportunities
Though having over 12 years of involvement in teaching and assessing students at various levels, the COVID19 pandemic has presented new challenges and opportunities that need attention and preparedness in light of educating students as the use of the term ‘new normal’ has become normal these days.
Traditional ways of teaching and learning such as classroom activities have been seriously affected due to the necessity of social distancing and other preventive measures suggested to be followed by the academic institutions considering the health and safety of everyone including learners.
A glimpse of the challenges surrounding the alternatives
It is empirical that everyone has opted online delivery as an alternative solution. However, glaring digital divide imposes limitations on digital transformation and online education to many students particularly those from less affluent ‘one device or less’ families which is relatively more in developing countries. Further, having a device alone doesn’t make one ready to learn online whereas a stable internet connection is also equally important to make this ecosystem work hand in hand so does the right tools and technologies. Again these requirements may only satisfy the physical requirements needed to switch to online teaching and learning. However, teaching and learning don’t just happen or don’t mean those who present online are learning. Having the right attitude and mindset for learning is essential. Are students having the right attitude and mindset of learning towards these online tools and technologies? It is an area for scientific study in local context. With the abundant availability of social media platforms and apps, many young people perceive internet as a tool for entertainment.
It’s again learning refers to the process of acquiring new understanding, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, attitudes, and preferences as defined in psychological articles. In this context, attitude plays an important role in teaching and learning. It’s essential for a teacher to have required skills and hands on experience to handle these tools and technologies effectively and efficiently, an understanding of the pros and cons of online teaching and their limitations, back up plans to overcome these limitations are also important in disseminating knowledge through these platforms.
In a proactive manner, academic institutions must incorporate hands on experience with these tools and technologies to their staff in training requirements. Also, when students are able to return to campus, sessions can be arranged in online mode in order to make them familiar with these tools and technologies. It will bring positive attitudinal change towards these online learning platforms.
Opportunities that surround this transformation
We have to cope with things that are beyond our control so does the present situation. Nothing is going to be changed by mere excuses. Therefore, it’s an opportunity for any learning organization to see the big picture surrounding their organization at present situation and having solid answers to the questions like where are they standing, are they able to survive despite this unforeseen situation? How do they overcome the situation and move forward?
In light of academic institutions, with proper research they may introduce innovative ways of teaching and make learning happen even where there is a situation where students cannot present to the institution. Institutions that deliver only in-house training may think of providing distance learning or online learning opportunities provided that with quality assurance and standard practices are in place. This makes it possible to attract any prospective students across the globe not limited to a particular geographical location.
Adoption to these online tools and technologies may drastically reduce the overhead cost and would require only limited human intervention once they are implemented and scaled as per the requirements. Also, enough open source tools and technologies are available as a substitution for institutions that cannot afford proprietary software.
It is one withstanding competitive advantage for any academic institution to have a well-established digital platform for teaching and learning regardless of the situation.
Conclusion on Educating Students in new normal; Challenges and Opportunities
In conclusion, it’s everyone’s responsibility to make the world a better place, an employee to make the institution a better one, a learner to make use of the available opportunities and learn all that he or she could learn as we get more time than usual. Therefore, nothing is going to be changed justifying this pandemic as a reason for excuse. Therefore, it is wise to work harder, smarter and be up to date and be prepared to cope up with the challenges and move forward towards a better tomorrow.