Soon it will be one year for us (Guyana) in the Pandemic and no doubt Education has taken a hit locally. We are in 2021 and a new strain of the virus was recently announced. On the bright side, we can make lemonade with the lemons thrown at us in 2020!
In recent months Primary and Secondary Schools have had to radically adapt to online learning to keep students safe as COVID-19 shows little sign of subsiding. After the rushed transition to online education in a country that is yet developing when it comes to access to technology, students and teachers are now grappling with several challenges in the newly birthed “virtual classrooms”.
Using various collaboration tools, we have all moved online. We have scanned our learning resources and send PDF copies to our students via email. We have created worksheets in Microsoft word and email them to our students who are expected to populate the answers and email them back to us. We have laid out our courses in a click-and-read type of way, we send some You-Tube Videos, and then we meet virtually to answer questions any student may have based on what they read. Not forgetting we will chat a bit on WhatsApp about the work. These are just some examples of how educators locally pieced together these various solutions to teach online, and in many cases, the result was a completely disjointed experience for students. Students got bored and parents became frustrated and continue to be.
In actuality, quality online learning should ensure there is active learning, increased student engagement, impactful learning outcomes, rapid feedback, and excellent virtual content. Many educational institutions in Guyana underestimated the functionalities that would be required to ensure these objectives are met. It can definitely be a challenge getting students and teachers to see past what they’re used to and consider a different approach that better meets learning goals.
So the question is, how do we deliver interesting content, maximize interaction in these E-Learning classrooms and provide a comprehensive seamless experience for students, parents, and teachers? The good news is, with online learning there is much room for innovation to combat these challenges. In order for students to have successful school terms, we need to realistically approach our world’s new challenges. Online learning really doesn’t have to be boring.