Photo: Gabriel Benois on Unsplash
For many people, it feels like life is on pause because of the coronavirus. They may be stuck at home or stuck in the same routine, unable to go out and do the things that they enjoy. However, the world is changing quickly during this time even if we haven’t noticed it. One area that has been changing a lot recently is education.
When countries started going into lockdown in response to coronavirus last year, education quickly went online. However, even now most teachers and students are still struggling to adapt to this rapid change to new technology, new methods, and a very different social dynamic.
Most people want to go back to in-person classes, but education will never go back to the way it was. Many schools have already made online classes mandatory, even at the high school level, and universities are moving more courses online in order to be as flexible as possible and reach students around the world. The future of education looks very convenient for students but challenging for schools unless they can adapt.
The school where I taught English for almost 10 years closed last March. It’s still closed. Some schools have moved online, but many others have closed forever. Many international students have delayed or cancelled their plans to study abroad. Canadian schools rely heavily on international students, so they are really struggling right now. Some students are studying online from their own countries, but there are challenges.
Time differences around the world, for example, can make it very difficult to organize classes. For students, it’s much harder to communicate and stay focused in an online class. It’s also much harder to have social interactions and feel a sense of community. “Zoom fatigue” is a new but very real phenomenon, and we’re just starting to learn how and why it is so tiring to have classes online. Many students are also disappointed that their tuition fees are still the same even though they don’t have access to school facilities. Finally, both teachers and students have to deal with constant technical difficulties, and this is especially frustrating for older teachers.
I have been a student and a teacher during this time, and personally I would love to get back into a classroom. However, I understand that this is “the new normal”, and online education is here to stay.
I would love to hear about other people’s experiences as an online teacher or student during this time, so please feel free to leave a comment. This is a very challenging but also interesting time for everyone in education - a new phase of life for all students and teachers.