New Dimension On Teaching After Covid-19 Pandemic
This paper discusses the new dimensions in teaching/ education post-COVID-19. It prioritizes mainly on the current situations of education in such lockdown (specifically Nepal), challenges to the global education in learning, and the areas where COVID-19 has created its positive impact (though it has halted every aspect of human life).
- Present scenario of education in COVID-19 lockdown
- New dimension
The spread of pandemic Covid-19 has drastically disrupted every aspect of human life including education. It has created an unprecedented test on education. In many educational institutions around the world, campuses are closed and teaching-learning has moved online. Internationalization has slowed down considerably. In the whole world, about 320 million learners stopped to move schools/colleges and all educational activities have been brought to an end. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many new modes of learning, new perspectives, new trends are getting emerged and the same may continue as we go-ahead to a new tomorrow. In this article, I shall be including the present lockdown scenario of education in Nepal, new dimensions in teaching post-covid-19, and the challenges to current online education in Nepal.
- Present scenario of education in COVID-19 lockdown:
As the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, not a single sector has been unscathed. Transportation in large parts of the world is shut, businesses of all kinds and scales have halted work, governmental and non-governmental agencies have been reduced to working from home, even health institutions have limited their services, focusing on battling the Covid19 outbreak while postponing other services.
Amongst these, education is another sector to be severely impacted by global lockdowns. Schools, colleges, and universities are, for the large part, closed which has affected more than 90 percent of students across the world. While some institutions have started online learning, it is unclear how universally and effectively this can be emulated.
Not so long ago, a few days of closure caused by Nepal bandas and chakka jams got us panicking. This would set the entire academic calendar on a backlog. Teachers would rush to complete courses within the stipulated timeframe, often at the cost of quality learning.
The lockdown in Nepal lasted for about exactly four months. As the cases were decreasing day by day, the government published a notice about the end of lockdown in the whole nation. The university exams were about to start from the month of Bhadra. But the end of lockdown didn’t favor in response to the government. The cases of COVID-19 even started to increase in a random manner.
It is highly unlikely that Nepali schools and colleges will be able to follow anytime soon, simply because not all institutions are ready to handle large crowds in the same spaces, thanks to poor infrastructure and crowded classrooms. Not to forget the lack of testing capacity that has kept the number relatively low in Nepal. It wouldn’t be surprising if a student spreads it to hundreds of his friends if schools are haphazardly opened, and then the number multiples exponentially.
- New dimension:
UNESCO reported that national closures have affected 80% of the world’s student population. As a result, many schools and colleges have moved to alternative learning depending on the availability of current technologies. Despite the closure of schools and colleges, the available online platforms have made it easier for schools and colleges as they continue to run classes and engage with their students. Institutions have turned to digital applications like zoom, VooV, Google Meet, and many others that help exchange the information. This pandemic has made all the educational schools across the world to adopt teaching online. Courses and examinations are conducted online, assignments are submitted through email. For countries like Nepal, this is a good opportunity to strengthen internet connectivity across rural Nepal. Every village and town in Nepal will be digitally connected for better interaction between the students and teachers. Below are some of the important aspects where the education system will probably change in post-COVID-19:
- Social Distancing principles will have to be incorporated: When schools, coaching centers and other educational institutions open up after Covid-19, the new social distancing rules will necessarily change the existing ways of imparting education. Schools might consider working in shifts, classrooms will follow strict sanitization processes and social distancing will become a norm for all activities.
- Interactivity and engagement in a physical classroom will have to be built into the online learning programs to keep students engaged:Physical classrooms offer a high degree of interactivity with the teacher and also among students. Educators will have to bring in a lot of innovations to bring in the element of interactivity and collaboration in their e-learning modules.
- Technology will be used effectively to reduce the time spent by teachers on tasks such as paper-setting, evaluating, and grading: This will help the teachers focus more effectively on teaching and course improvement.
- The role of teachers will need to be redefined: With information readily available just a click away, the role of a teacher from that of a ‘knowledge-giver’ will gradually move to one of a ‘facilitator’ in the development of learners and helping them to become life-long learners.
- Teachers and students will become more friendly with the use of available technologies: The teachers and students who didn’t know to operate the technologies before the COVID-19 pandemic will become more efficient in using them.
- Blended learning will become a reality: The classroom will be supplemented by online coursework. This way, students may be required to physically attend classes on fewer days and will be free to study at their own pace. This will also give them adequate time to assimilate information.
COVID-19 has given schools zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google classroom. The technology turns a laptop screen into a classroom, where students and teachers see each other and can question each other in truly collaborative online learning. It is too early to fully understand how the COVID-19 pandemic schools and university closures have affected the education system in Nepal, a low-income country in South Asia, but there several indications that it could have a lasting impact on students.
E-learning does not have a long history in Nepal, some colleges and universities, including the likes of Kathmandu University, Tribhuwan university have transferred their coursework online. Based on my experience of attending three weeks of online classes at TU, I can say that shifting to e-learning has its own set of opportunities as well as challenges.
Firstly, not all the students have access to high-speed internet. Even those of high bandwidth, they are getting slow and interrupted internet service due to collective use of internet across the nation as more people are using the internet to work, socialize and entertain themselves under lockdown. While data packages on mobile networks are relatively faster, they are also far more expensive for students to regularly afford.
To add to this, many university students don’t have laptops and have thus far relied on their friends’ laptops or desktop computers in Cybercafes or libraries to finish assignments. To expect that they can follow the entirety of an online course on their mobile devices may be too much to expect. Also, the online classes in younger children need special help and guidance from their parents/guardians than the older ones as they are not well- known about the digital equipment and its proper utilization.
It is true that in this corona pandemic situation, the initiation of online classes by many institutions is commendable. It has created big support for the continuity of academic activity safely. Undoubtedly, for those clusters of students, who have good access and privilege, it surely has reshaped the learning process. But, somehow this initiation draws the ambit of inequality within the students.
The article has provided a situational analysis of the state of education during the COVID-19 closures of schools and universities in Nepal. It has analyzed the present scenario of education in Nepal in a lockdown situations, new dimensions in education and teaching after the covid-19 outbreak, and the challenges to the online mediums of classes being conducted in different parts all over the nation. It is evident that the COVID-19 pandemic has created some sort of educational anarchy with the government having no firm-grip of the education system. If proper actions are not taken on time, the whole educational system will be stagnant or even collapse. The coronavirus has pushed us out of our comfort zones, compelling us to broaden our horizon and come up with more innovative solutions to the numerous problems it has brought along.
Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay