The Record - Issue 17: Summer 2020

THE L A S T WORD What are the top challenges facing the educa- tion sector during the Covid-19 crisis? The biggest challenge reported by educators across Europe is that students and teachers do not have equal access to the internet, devices and col- laboration apps or platforms. Hence, they need to find a way to digitise learning without widening the existing inequalities in the education sector. Another challenge is that almost overnight, pri- mary and secondary school teachers were forced to switch to digital lessons, but many have never been taught the skills to do so. Similarly, teach- ers don’t have existing online learning resources, so they’ve had to create new content for lessons. However, they have no real way of measuring how well pupils are engaging with the work. Which technologies are empowering teachers to continue providing regular education? Most educators are now using collaborative appli- cations and online content tools to teach and communicate with their students. What steps can educational institutions take to create the right remote learning culture? Teaching and learning in a virtual environment is very different to what both teachers and students are used to, especially in primary and secondary education. Headteachers need to set out what teachers, students and parents are expected to do each day and achieve by the time they return to the physical classroom. In addition, schools must evaluate their resources to identify areas for immediate improvement – whether that be in terms of connectivity, learning resources or teaching skills. How well have educational institutions been doing so far? I’ve spoken with educational professionals across Europe and some schools are now providing a full-time digital curriculum every day, while others are doing almost nothing due to a lack of resources. Primary and secondary schools are struggling more than tertiary institutions because they previously didn’t have many (or any) vir- tual teaching capabilities and it’s very difficult to engage young children in a virtual environment. What impact do you think the pandemic will have on how students are taught in the long-term? The pandemic has highlighted both the pos- sibilities and limitations of online learning. Ultimately, I predict that primary and second- ary schools will return to teaching in traditional classrooms, but they’ll likely retain some virtual teaching capabilities for certain circumstances. For example, if a child has a sore throat but is well enough to work, they may be able to join the lesson virtually so they can keep up with learn- ing but not infect classmates. Moving to virtual classrooms Jan Alexa, research manager at IDC Europe, explains the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on education and predicts how it may impact the way students are taught in future BY R E B E CCA G I B SON 136 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om “Teaching and learning in a virtual environment is very different”