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Post-pandemic effects – What education will look like

  • Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the lockdown has made learning in the physical world change to learning in the digital world suddenly. Although learning is not affected by place, a sense of place is a vital thing in learning. Learning is a social experience.

    Before the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, listening happens in class, but the real learning happens outside the class. We process and digest what we learned in class with our mates on walking routes or in cafes. After digesting with friends, the heart processes the learning, and we understand everything when the educator gives feedback. This lockdown has dismantled this whole mechanism of learning because all students have gone virtual.

    There is bound to be a more significant change at hand in the post-pandemic world. This will happen due to the reversal of power from the lecturer to the learner or student. Let’s look at some of the changes that will happen to education after the coronavirus pandemic.

    WHAT EDUCATION WILL LOOK LIKE IN THE FUTURE

    Crafting attention, not curriculum

    During the Covid-19 pandemic, most of the teachings by the educators are pre-recorded, and they do few live sessions. With this, after the pandemic, they will no longer have strict control over the sequence of learning. This will make learners start learning where it interests them, the duration they want to learn, and how they want to learn. They will also choose whether to learn in front of their educator or not. On the other hand, the educator will have to craft attention and not the curriculum.

    The educators’ best teaching method will then be the production of video lectures, and it will be delivered as a performance. Apart from the learners adjusting to the new learning environment, the educators also have to look for a better way to craft attention to delivering the best to the learners. Since the medium of teaching is a screen, educators will have to boost their knowledge of teaching by learning from television shows and scriptwriters. This will boost their knowledge of how to produce episodic learning skills. 

    This will also include learning how to teach in smaller chunks and creating ‘hooks’ that will sustain the learners’ interest through suspense and surprise. After the Covid-19 pandemic period, solo teaching will become irrelevant, and the educators will focus more on attention than curriculum

    Related: Curriculum in a pandemic: Four lessons learned

    Embodied learning

    This is another post-pandemic effect of Covid-19, which will break us away from the flat screen’s domination. The creation of the virtual worlds by this pandemic will transform both teaching and learning in the future. Instead of just listening to lectures, the affordable headsets’ production for augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Reality (together known as extended reality, XR) will boost our experience of learning. 

    What will become the main central device that will boost our learning will then be using different scenes and simulations. There will be a different learning experience that would not be possible in the real world. Employing XR will make us collaborate with platforms like Engage and Spatial for a better learning experience that we would wonder why we ever learned without it.

    Although the lack of better content currently challenges VR for education, it is estimated to be a $13 billion company by 2026. However, with the provision of different platforms for educators, this constraint will be removed because educators will be able to create and share materials with other educators. This will create better network effects and improved learning experiences.

    Increased use of technology

    The use of technology will increase in the future after the Covid-19 pandemic. Different forms of technological innovations will make students decide and choose the better option between opting for remote learning and learning in class. This will increase the comfort of the students to boost their output. Since one of the best ways to prevent contracting Covid-19 is social distancing, there will be an increase in social distancing among students. 

    The use of digital technology, including the use of feedback tools, assessment tools, and holding of video conferences, will be on the rise. This will help boost the staff and students’ safety, even when this pandemic is over.

    There are currently on-going analyses on the use of these tools for educators and students for a smooth learning process. Researchers in education are developing new inventions for a smooth learning process, and there is a need to educate the staff and learners. This will keep them updated about the use of the inventions and also improve the learning process.

    Shifting roles of teachers, students, and parents

    The post-pandemic effect of Covid-19 on education could shift teachers’ roles and make them more like mentors and coaches. Teachers will be able to direct their students to better online lectures and classes, and they will be there to provide feedback and guidance. They will also be able to make connections across different topics. 

    Also, the roles of parents and students may shift. Students and their parents now have more places to keep their eyes on. Students will also have to address their learning needs by themselves. With these changes of roles, many other things may have to change, too, although in less predictable ways.

    Learning in groups

    After this pandemic period, there is bound to be digital learning by students and learners, and this means that educators may not see their learners in person for a longer period. The educators will only see their learners in key moments. To prevent issues arising from reduced contact, educators and learners will form learning groups based on the current levels of mastery and the learners’ interest. 

    With the use of different software, learners and educators will move freely between groups for easy learning processes. At the end of the week, there will be group analysis to assess performances. Also, the assessment will let the educator know which group member might need attention. With these self-organized groups, the educator will have a change of role to frequent coaching from providing knowledge through sessions.

    The digital divide could widen

    During this pandemic, most schools in the affected parts of the world are not finding an effective teaching solution. This is because teaching depends heavily on the quality and level of digital access. Statistically, we only have about 60% of the world’s population on the internet. 

    For example, while virtual classes held on tablets and smartphones may be a normal thing in Hong Kong, students in developing countries depend mainly on assignments and lessons sent and shared through email and WhatsApp applications. In addition, digitally savvy and less affluent families are those with students who are suffering the most. With online classes becoming a tradition after the Covid-19 pandemic, these students may lose out because of the cost of data plans and other digital services.

    Unless there is an increase in the quality of internet access and a decrease in access costs in all countries, a gap in education quality will always exist. In addition, the digital divide could be more extreme if access to the latest technologies is the only way to access digital education.

    Improved public-private educational partnerships

    Ever since this pandemic, we have seen different learning associations and partnerships taking shape with various stakeholders – education professionals, governments, technology providers, publishers, and telecom network operators – coming together to provide a temporary solution to the effect of the pandemic. However, this may be a permanent and lasting solution to future education in developing countries where the government is in total control of education.

    The Ministry of Education in China has assembled some different constituent groups to develop a new cloud-based, broadcasting, and online learning platform to improve their education infrastructure. Also, readtogether.hk forum in Hong Kong is a consortium that has over 60 publishers, media, educational organizations, and entertainment industry professionals. They are producing over 900 educational assets, including assessment tools, book chapters, videos, and counselling services free. This consortium intends to keep on providing these services even after containing the Covid-19 pandemic. 

    With these examples, it is evident that future education will receive more attention than the non-profit-backed and government-funded projects. Before Covid-19, there have been different interests and investments from private sectors in educational innovation and solutions. From Samsung in Korea to Google and Microsoft in the U.S. to Alibaba, Ping An and Tencent in China, many companies are using different strategies to help education.

    Conclusion

    The rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated the need for the world to build resilience to face different threats from pandemic disease outbreak to climate insecurity to extremist violence and to rapid technological change. This is the right time for us to remind ourselves about student skills in creative problem solving, decision making, and adaptability. Even if we are doing it now, the students will be the ones to do it tomorrow, and for these skills to remain students’ priority, we must build a perfect educational system. This pandemic outbreak has taught us a lot, and the future of education will change aggressively.

    Also, read updates, risks, safety for parents and wards during a pandemic school period.

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