Education in the Time of Coronavirus
According to a study from the United Nations, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the largest disruption of education in history, “affecting nearly 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries and all continents. Closures of schools and other learning spaces have impacted 94 per cent of the world’s student population, up to 99 per cent in low and lower-middle income countries.” Along with the disruption, education disparities were exacerbated as vulnerable or underserved student populations were unable to adapt to distance learning effectively and/or a timely fashion. Gaps in student learning due to the unequal distribution of educational resources have widened. To say the least, education has changed forever in the time of Coronavirus. With the rise of online learning and digital platforms, educational key issues remain in inequality of resource distribution, access, as well as unfulfilled student needs for learning-style based differentiated education.
As the sudden, rapid, massive, and necessary movement of e-learning was enforced, many learners suffered from adaptation difficulties and insufficient bandwidth or technology, especially those with disadvantaged backgrounds. The digital divide was plain for all to see. Learning styles or differentiation needs of students also became an area of concern. For those who were more independent and had access to technology and educational resources, online learning could be more effective in terms of information retention: “students retain 25-60% more material when learning online compared to only 8-10% in a classroom.” However, students who preferred proximity or hands-on learning could suffer from frustrations of technology management or navigation of course materials that appeared inexplicable or confusing to them.
The effectiveness of online learning varied among different age groups and learners. Younger children required more of a structured environment. Learners who were not technology oriented experienced difficulties and could lose interest altogether. Education in the time of Coronavirus, for many, was a lost cause. It was distressing and unmanageable for many students and families.
For a post-pandemic education, it is crucial to make learning fun and effective through creative applications of technology; it is equally important to address different learning styles and provide differentiated online or offline instruction. More than a year after the lockdown, schools are beginning to reopen and are expected to operate in full swing in the 2021-2022 school year. Can the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill and its allotment bring back the normalcy education needs to provide for our young? Can we pick up where we left off and continue to strive for equitable learning opportunities for all? Can we -- students, teachers, parents, community leaders, politicians, be resilient and persistent enough to bridge the emotional, mental, economic, and academic gaps that Coronavirus imposed on us? In other words, can we take on the challenge of returning to normalcy but subverting the educational status-quo? A pivot is underway; the real opportunity to reshape education cannot be overlooked.
根据联合国的一项研究，新型冠状病毒造成了历史上最大的教育中断情况，“影响了 190 多个国家和各大洲将近 16 亿的学生。学校和其他学习场所的关闭影响了世界上 94% 的学生人口，在低收入和中低收入国家的影响高达 99%。” 随之，教育差距加剧，因为弱势群组的学生无法有效和/或及时地适应远距教学和学习的模式。由于教育资源分配不均，学生学习差距扩大。在冠状病毒时代，教育发生了永久的变化。随着在线学习和数字平台的兴起，教育的关键问题仍然是资源分配、及获取资源的不平等状况，学生对基于学习方式的差异化教育的需求也未得到满足。
由于在线远距学习的突然、快速、大规模之强制执行的必要性，许多学生适应困难，面对网络速度或技术不足的问题，尤其是那些家庭背景较为平困的学生。其中的鸿沟是显而易见的。学生的学习方式或差异化需求也成为必须关注的领域。对于那些更加独立并能够获得技术和教育资源的人来说，在线学习在信息保留方面可能更有效：“学生在线学习时保留了 25-60% 的材料，而在课堂上仅保留 8-10%。 ” 然而，喜欢近距离或课堂面对面学习的学生可能会遭遇技术管理或课程材料导航相关的挫败感，他们也许会觉得在线课程难以适应而感到困惑。
疫情减缓之后的教育，至关重要的是要通过创造性的技术应用使学习变得有趣和有效；迎合不同的学习方式需求并提供差异化的在线或远距教学。封锁一年多后，许多学校将开始重新开放，预计将在 2021-2022 学年全面开学。 1.9 万亿美元的救助法案及其拨款能否恢复学生学习环境、提供正常教育的需求？人们能否继续努力，为所有人争取公平的学习机会？学生、教师、家长、社区领袖、政治家，能否有足够的弹性和毅力来弥合新型冠状病毒强加给我们的情感、心理、经济和学术之上挑战？换句话说，我们能否接受回归常态并颠覆教育现状的挑战？教育正面临一个重要的转折点；我们势必掌握这个重塑教育的绝佳机会。