With 144 countries closing schools, more than a billion learners have been affected. As more and more schools are forced to deal with large scale education crises, online education, which was typically associated with only higher education, is now seen as an emergency response to continued learning.
Education has always been about gaining knowledge to prepare for an unknown future. With no clear visibility into school reopening, online education could become the only way forward to positively engage students. While online classes are significantly different from classroom learning, its rising popularity and widespread adoption have their own story to tell. While it may be a new experience and uncharted territory as far as school education is concerned, COVid-19 has challenged schools to seamlessly dovetail technology, learning, and engagement. After a few months of virtual classes, students and educators can say with confidence that it has been an enriching experience pushing all stakeholders to innovate and get creative.
Given such a scenario, it is difficult to accept the government’s decision to ban online education. If we have to understand the whole gamut of online education in all levels of school teaching, it is imperative to remove bans and restrictions on virtual sessions. Significant research and experimentation are needed before we let prejudice stop us from exploring online education for children of all age groups. Our experiences today will become the guiding framework for all future remote learning.
In addition to ensuring continued learning, virtual classrooms offer flexibility. Students are now able to access coursework and assignments at their convenience. The use of technology has opened doors for student-centric learning, prompting students to be more involved and responsible for their education.
Lack of technology and the internet should not become an impediment to learning. If anything, governments and communities should see this as an opportunity to upgrade and build capacities. National platforms, partnerships, and intelligent teaching solutions should become the norm to preserve the fundamental rights of students. When the alternative is wasted quality time, getting bored or watching television, learning by any means possible should be prioritized.
Many schools and educators have shown tremendous initiative to keep children engaged in curriculum and life skills for the past few months. Schools have reevaluated their method of teaching, extensively trained their teachers for virtual classes, integrated learning management systems for ease and simplicity, and redesigned their co-curricular program to provide a researched well-balanced school experience. The online education ban disregards these efforts and shows a marked distrust in schools to place the student interests at the heart of learning.
It is imperative that we take this less than ideal situation to transform learning and look at a realistic recovery plan for education. Change to build better and come back stronger is the only way to an equitable society. The government should become the catalyst to a bigger, holistic, and meaningful debate about the future of online learning in schools and education.