How has COVID 19 changed the future for education sector? What has been the biggest challenge for this sector in these times of crisis?
COVID has brought into focus the importance of communication and contact between the home, the school, the teacher and the student. Hyflex, blended or hybrid models have created an environment in which teachers have had to adapt their practice very quickly and in which student have had to develop more autonomous ways of working. The interaction between teacher, student and parent has been very important in the success of these models. The biggest challenge we face in consistency in delivery, that is, ensuring that ‘online’ students are experiencing the same levels of engagement and quality of learning as students who may be on site. Another interesting observation is the impact that COVID has had on our ideas of what constitutes authentic assessment and how assessment practices may have to evolve in the face of ongoing COVID impacted landscapes.
How are making sure there is incessant flow of education and the students are able to grab it via remote education?
Again, effective communication is key here. Whether we are communicating via phone or VoiP or email, the focus must be on ensuring that contact is clear, frequent and ultimately flexible so that we can respond in real time to student/parent concern or need. Information, direction, feedback etc need to be delivered via multiple platforms and as practitioners we need to establish feedback channels so that we can constantly evaluate the environment and ensure we are offering students what it is they need to be successful.
According to you which area of education sector will witness maximum use of emerging technology in the next 5 years?
I think that the way we interact with our school communities will continue to develop into the future. Teaching and learning is our core business and technology certainly can augment this and with a bit of investment we can set up our classrooms to be live and flexible theatres of learning. I envisage an educational landscape in which students, parents and administrators or school leaders can tap in and out of lessons almost at will, utilising audio/visual online learning tools. Such technologies provide greater scope for teacher development, greater involvement in parent/student/teacher comprehension of pedagogy and curriculum and allows student to access their learning at any time and in any place.
As the crisis imposes immense setback for teachers to impart knowledge, how do you think their concerns and wellbeing can be addressed?
Teachers are certainly under immense strain at the moment as the pandemic continues to shift and develop. Communication and relationships are fundamental to teaching and learning and these two facets have certainly been impacted by COVID. It is the role of school leadership to ensure that teachers are heard, that their workload is managed carefully and that school conditions are responsive to the needs of all community members, teachers included. Work hours need to be reviewed as well as teacher loads, additional expectations and after hours workloads need to be considered as not many teachers work solely the daylight hours. The development of the teaching and learning environment needs to be shaped with teacher voice considered. We, as leaders, need to look for opportunities to consider stripping back what can sometimes be an over cluttered curriculum and look for opportunity to adjust assessment. It is certainly not easy for anyone involved but it is a worthwhile endeavour.
How do you think attendees will benefit from Distance Education & E- Learning Summit?
Any conversation or dialogue in these times helps us to share and learn from each other’s experience. I’ve been a part of a number of similar summits recently and have walked away from each one with a new or evolved understanding of what the education sector is experiencing and what can be accomplished when we all work together. Whether it is learning about a new technology for the classroom, a new information management system or how to establish an empowering teaching and learning environment, the Distance Education & E-Learning Summit will offer all participants a value add to their practice.