Covid 19 is having a devastating impact on humanity. In a crisis of this magnitude, educators are learning to be resilient and to search for opportunities to continue teaching. The delivery of academic material and the notion of school remain relatively unchanged for centuries. However, a global pandemic is calling into question how schools operate. What will emerge after a couple of months of online education will permanently impact teaching and learning. We will never completely return to the classroom format as the exclusive space for the presentation of academic programs and will need to incorporate aspects of on-line learning into how we deliver learning activities.
School prior to Covid-19 was an institution in charge of delivering content knowledge. Schools presented themselves to the public based on the type of academic program they delivered. With the pandemic, we have come to realize that content knowledge is in reality an open source document curated by educators. Educators around the globe share resources and teachers access ideas and design materials necessary to receive a quality education without being in a school building. Schools will need to deliver the best of both delivery systems: people connected campus experiences and access to globally networked learning communities.
The absence of personal connection in virtual learning that students are currently experiencing is an essential reason why schools exist and will continue to do so. Students miss their friends, their teachers, the collaboration, relationships and communication that comes from face to face classroom and interactions on a campus. We have come to realize that so much depends on the expression in the eyes of the other, the tone of their voice, how they talk through body language. Learning is an emotional experience and is easier when it is co-created in the interaction of people sharing a physical location.
If schools exist to connect people, then what role does the online aspect play in learning? With so much available online, how do you choose what is important? Schools will need to curate the use of the immense amount of resources available. The resources selected will showcase what schools believe to be the best information to prepare young people for the future. Instructional time is limited and the content is vast. What is worth teaching and learning? To prepare students for continuous change, schools should select content that is trans-disciplinary, relevant, engaging and allows for working through that content in a critical and creative fashion utilizing new pedagogies of learning that focus on doing and reflecting. Even online synchronous activities are devoted to active learning. Teachers have learned to use break out rooms on zoom and adapt discussion and cooperative group strategies to the online environment. New approaches to learning are being born out of the necessity to find novel ways to connect with students in a virtual learning environment. Learning should address real life problems both local and global and allow students to see they can make a difference in this world.
While teachers are becoming more tech-savvy during remote learning, we will need to leverage this new knowledge and continue to use tools that we have learned how to use in the virtual experience when back on campus, we will also need to understand school is a place for making personal connections, learning to socialize, and develop interpersonal relationships. This human connectivity provides a nuanced understanding of life and allows us to see significance in the academic content that is shared, a computer screen and wifi will never be able to replicate this.