Ms. Devvaki Aggarwal has worked in New York for a leading EdTech company, and worked with publishers in USA, UK, India and Asia Pacific with over half a decade experience in the EdTech space, Ms. Aggarwal decided to move back to India to set up instrucko. Launched in July 2020, instrucko is an amalgamation of language learning and storytelling, to teach children the essence of intelligent communication right from their foundation years. With instrucko, Ms. Aggarwal’s objective is to emphasise on language learning and focus on Emotional Intelligence as it plays a key role in our daily lives.
It is no surprise that the pandemic has brought with it, not only many changes, but also many difficulties. While the optimistic attitude of the world shifting towards a much-needed change spreads throughout and people get ready to approach the dawn of a new age, there are still some shadows of twilight that have cast their hues on the changing sky. There has been suffering and there have been difficulties. Even though ‘focusing on the bright side’ seems like the best attitude to move forward, it is absolutely crucial to identify difficulties to make the way easier as we move forward.
The education sector was no stranger to these difficulties during the pandemic. In fact, one must point out how gracefully, we as a specie, have been able to continue educating our people through various inventions and methods, whether it be long distance online classes or long-distance graduations. We seem to have emerged out of it with more tools at our disposal than before. But the world has seen pandemics before, and education has suffered. During the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-19, 43 school in the United States of America were shut down which led to save countless lives. Given the technological difficulties of that time, education could only be covered by post, that too, only in some cities.
A century later and with the infrastructure of today’s technology, we were able to produce alternatives instead of interrupting education during the covid-19 outbreak.
National Emergency Action Plans are usually created by the countries with the recommendations of World Health Organisation which have measures to be taken in case of a possible outbreak. Surprisingly enough, in April 2019 one of the duties listed down by Turkey for its Ministry of National Education was “taking the necessary decisions for continuing distance education in case of a break in education and training”. Before this distance education was but a niche in the sector, but shortly afterwards the whole world became familiar with the concept of distance learning.
Today’s data shows that 102 countries around the world closed all school to stop the spread of the virus and 900 million children and young people stay away from school.
It would surprise one to know that distance education is not a very new model of education. The emergence of this method was actually seen around 300 years ago. One of the first known applications is weekly lessons delivered to students in the USA through post. Other tools such as radio, television, mail, etc. have been used as tools in the past to carry on distance education. With the advancement of technology, it is now possible to transform printed books into eBooks, newspapers and magazines into websites, and the transformation of traditional classrooms into e-learning.
However, since the courses are still heavily relying on the classroom model faculty familiarity or discomfort can potentially affect the participants’ or teacher’s perceptions. Since the pedagogy of a traditional classroom and distance learning vary, it is necessary to adopt new method as well. It is recommended to learn both the technological and pedagogical techniques to increase the classroom experience for the students and the lecturers. Different learning outcomes and processes require the use of appropriate learning activities and contexts. Therefore, distance education practitioners should find a way to create the most effective blend of technology and pedagogy.
One of the most important ingredients in distance learning is active participation. Each experience should be designed to inform students about the prerequisites of online course, familiarize them with the culture of the online community and to eliminate the novelty effect that may occur in the student. If teachers in distance learning incorporate less student participation and focus solely on giving the lecture/teaching it does not result in quality education. It merely becomes a task to be completed. But education is so much more than that. That is why online instructors need to model high-quality teaching skills to motivate the students to succeed.
A recent study, as recent as conducted during the pandemic, showed that distance learning allows teachers to evaluate objectively and has also positively affected student success thanks to new learning methodologies.
While it has been difficult, it has also been astounding to see the will of our race and its determination to overcome difficulties that stand in the way of its evolution. Though distance learning as a concept is old, the time has never been riper, with the rise of global reach and communication, to truly expand this concept to its full potential. One that was never possible before due to the lack of the resources. Fortunately for our age, the resources are abundant and the time is always now.