What can we learn from corona-virus situation? #2 – Implications of on-line education

The impact of the pandemic on the education systems across the globe is immense for numerous reasons. On one hand, most countries in the world have closed down schools and moved to some type of online learning which will surely impact the quality of learning but at the same time impacts the home lives of teachers, students and their parents.

We @NEPC hope to contribute to the discussion with this thematic series that brings different perspectives on the current situation by some of the NEPC experts. We asked them a few questions that will help us in shedding a light on this unexpected situation and that will help us in drawing some reflections from it.

In this issue we focused on the pedagogical implications of on-line teaching. On the topic, we interviewed Radmila Rangelov Jusović, executive director of Center for Educational Initiatives Step by Step, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

What are the implications of remote/on-line education? What are the main pedagogical differences with in situ lessons and could it entirely replace the in presence lessons?

At the beginning, it is very important to distinguish between regular distance learning and the emergency situation we are all in. The first and basic difference is the psychological one – children are isolated, completely separated from the outside world and peers, often without good access to the internet and technology and not good command of web tools. They live in an unnatural state that inevitably causes stress and fear, which certainly affects concentration and motivation to learn. Another difference is that online learning materials are prepared very long and carefully, require a good knowledge of the opportunities afforded by technology, and are most commonly targeted at older adults or university students. What we have now is the pretence that nothing is happening, trying to make the learning process go according to plan. Education has become a race, not a natural process of discovery and understanding, which truly takes place in social interaction.

Are educators trained for it?

Simply put, we can identify three categories of teachers: those who are completely unfamiliar with technology, so they have a problem even with e-mail communication, those who are learn fast and take a step, and those who have already had a lot of training and experience, and this is difficult even for them. But the greater danger now is that technologies are being given “supernatural” powers, and that the quality of teachers and the teaching process is measured by their ability to use web tools. In this situation, technology cannot replace a good teacher who is able to adapt content, encourage children to think and research independently, individualise tasks, weigh workload and work dynamics, and, most importantly, provide moral and psychological support to children.

Is online teaching adjustable to each age group and can students from lower grades participate without parents’ help?

As I mentioned earlier, quality and well educated teachers will find their way to children. It is also true that it has now proven how important and meaningful parental involvement is, and teachers who already have excellent co-operation with parents will overcome all obstacles together. Parents should be supportive, give their children a sense of security, establish daily routines, and strive for life to be as normal as possible. However, we cannot expect parents to assume the role of teacher. Answer a question, read instructions to smaller children, give advice, or support a child in independent work – yes. But tasks that require greater parental involvement are not sufficiently developmentally appropriate or individualised.

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