World as our class-room

Schools aren’t just buildings where students come and learn, there are teachers. There’s something magical in the bond between  a teacher and a students. Having that face-to-face connection with learners and being able to support them across their unique skills⁠—that’s very hard to replicate in an online learning environment.

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing more than 1.6 billion children and youth to be out of school in 161 countries. There is educational quarantine but teachers are delivering their goods through online learning. Sure, it hasn’t been easy. But teachers are making it work, just like they always do. They are making connections anyway they can. Everything happened so quickly.  In a matter of weeks, coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed how students are educated around the world. Those changes give us a glimpse of how education could change for the better and the worse  in the long term and what lesson our education system got from this pendamic Covid-19 .Will it shape the future of education?

The world of education is threatened, and is at a stage of crisis. Will we return to traditional learning in front of a whiteboard, or move to a new path where we can use technology to teach  and reach students wherever they are and introduce the new concept of  global learning?

Our education system is still  hundreds of years old, where we provide limited knowledge to the learners with the help of teachers and books. The conception of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education. With students being able to gain access to knowledge, and even learn a technical skill, through a few clicks on their phones, tablets and computers, we will need to redefine the role of the educator in the classrooms. This may mean that the role of educators will need to move towards facilitating young people’s development as contributing members of society.

As school moves online everyone struggles. The situation is very mixed and educators are now shouldering an impossible task. I would easily say that less than 50% of our students have access to internet. Many children do not have a desk, books, internet connectivity, a laptop at home, or supportive parents. What we need to avoid or minimize is for those differences in opportunities to expand and cause the crisis to have an even larger negative effect on poor children’s learning.  Many students stay logged out. Teachers  across the globe report that fewer than half of their students are participating in online learning. like teachers across the world are working remotely and the transition has proved difficult almost in every corner of the world, in Kashmir online teaching is at its worst because of 2G network. It takes hours to download an app or video and it also takes hours to get connected.

Teachers are fortunate because amid the crisis they are delivering the goods and reaching their students. For me, the issue often is deeper than teaching itself. I am a higher secondary school teacher, I meet my students on whatsApp  from my home. Still I don’t have access to all of my students’ cell phones. I have their parents’ numbers and a lot of times their parents don’t respond or they are not with their children. Getting in touch with the students is very difficult. I have converted my room into a makeshift classroom to make my students more comfortable. Every morning I rise and after prayers I begin my biggest task of the day, making contact with my students, who are scattered. Some I call by phone, others I chat with over text and some I contact through video presentation. While making the presentation and delivering it I try to imagine that my students are in a room in front of me, it is learning during a pandemic.

In a world where knowledge is achieved through a mouse-click we should also redefine the role of educator. This pandemic has shown us that where technology is most  needed, it is no where there. Reading books is the only sources of knowledge. Teachers  and the books are the only source of knowledge and these sources of knowledge are limited. Our students are not overwhelmed by the flow of information. They would get it only through the means of technology. If we would teach students with the means of  technology our class rooms will be different. Technology can be utilized to improve teaching and learning and help our students in gaining more information. It is the need of the hour to rethink how we can  educate future generations. This might just be the disruption that the sector needed to get us all to rethink how we educate, and question what we need to teach and what we are preparing our students for. So, as we educators grapple with the new ways of communicating with our students away from our classrooms, it is a good time to reflect on how this disruptive crisis can help us define what learning should look like for generations.

Students can access online resources to get assistance on demand beyond the physical reach of their teacher. Students can access teachers, resources, and assignments via the web whenever and wherever they have an internet connection,if they fail to come to school. For students who need to spend more time practicing a concept, online exercises and curriculum can also help them work at their own pace and still keep up with their peers.

Technology can assist the learner with home work. Parents may be able to meet with teachers via  web conferencing. Additionally, they can check their child’s attendance, assignments, and grades through online frameworks

Technology can also help students  to correspond with other students or experts who are not physically present. These projects likewise help them learn technology based skills they’ll need to succeed in the modern world.

We must find creative ways to live with it. At the same time,not every child has access to digital devices or internet   connectivity at home, and we need to ensure those kids get access to learning resources as well. This means that learning resources need to be available on every kind of device and it means, for kids who don’t have access, we still need to find a way to reach them.

COVID-19 should become a facilitator for educational institutions worldwide to search for innovative solutions in a relatively short period of time. We should develop a backup online learning system which will help us even in snowy days we have in the wintertime. Alas! We don’t have this sort of backup. Now, however, we should not only construct a backup to get through this crisis, but we should  have to develop new permanent systems, redesigned to meet the needs in this crisis. For example, we have always had large gaps in students’ learning opportunities after school, weekends, and in the winter. Underprivileged students suffer the consequences of those gaps more than well-off children, who typically have lots of opportunities to fill in those gaps. I’m hoping that we can learn some thing through this crisis about online delivery of not only instruction, but an array of opportunities for learning and support. In this way, we can make the most of the crisis to help redesign better systems of education and child development. We tend to regard our school systems uniformly, but actually schools are widely different in their operations and impact on children, just as our students themselves are very different from one another. Children come from very different backgrounds and have very different resources, opportunities, and support outside of school. Generally speaking, the most economically challenged in our society will be the most vulnerable in this crisis, and the most advantaged are most likely to survive it without losing too much ground.

The digital divide between students has become apparent as schools have increasingly turned to online instruction. What can school systems do to address that gap?

The school should ensure that all students have access to the technology and the internet they need in order to be connected in out-of-school hours. Twenty-first century learning absolutely requires technology and internet. All of our children should have the technology they need to learn outside of school.Our education system should have to act urgently and quickly to fill in the gaps in technology and internet access.I have read somewhere that,” Covid 19 is a giant tidal wave that came and sucked the water off the ocean floor, revealing all these uncomfortable realities that had been beneath the water from time immemorial.”.It is absolutely the reality. We need to redesign our systems of child development and education. The most obvious place to start for schools is working on equitable access to educational technology as a way to close the digital-learning gap.

We tried with our education reforms to build a 21st-century education system, but the results of that movement have been uncertain. We are still a nation at risk. We need another paradigm shift, where we look at our goals and aspirations for education, which are summed up in phrases like “Universalisation of elementary education” and figure out how to build a system that has the capacity to deliver on that promise of equity and excellence in education for all of our students, and all means all. We’ve got that opportunity now. I hope we don’t fail to take advantage of it in a misguided rush to restore the existing state of affairs.