Covid-19 has hit over 160 countries, upsetting the global education system as schools and universities face an uncertain period of lockdown to avoid further spread of the virus. It is only a matter of time before the education industry turns to a solution many academics have struggled with: online education.
As of March 25, Unesco’s Institute of Statistics estimates the number of learners affected by social distancing at 1.5 billion. Without a proper approach from educators to address the situation, the number could only increase with a higher rate of risking our education system.
Suddenly, online classes could change the game. Online education has already led to the phenomenon of educated people “upskilling” by learning new abilities to stay competitive in the global market. Now it is time educators upskill themselves and commit to a digital future.
In a critical situation like today’s, online education has a bigger capacity to keep teaching and learning activities on track. It is now the only way education can continue.
Online platforms are the first option to reach out to students. Platforms like Zoom, Kaltura, Google Hangout, Skype and even TikTok are all options, although they are not ideal. Educators need to create a virtual academic session – especially for K-12 and special needs students – that is highly reliant on screen-to-screen interaction, which is not what those apps were made for. Students need face-to-face interaction to learn about more than just what’s in the textbooks.
The problem requires a major effort from organizations to bridge the digital gap and get academics to adopt a more practical system. Harvard University, for instance, has transitioned to online classes for all students, including those overseas, so they can complete their studies in good time.
Education systems worldwide shifted to online teaching solutions in a matter of weeks, when at the start of the year such a drastic change was inconceivable. So, obviously, they are all capable of doing it!
Like many forces of change in society, the Covid-19 pandemic has only accelerated a change that was already happening. Like businesses that need to get smart with remote working in order to survive, the world’s education systems run the risk of collapse and failing an entire generation if they do not adapt.