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Adapting To Online Learning

Schooling, as we know it today, can be traced all the way back to the industrial revolution. This means that the teaching methods we’ve come to know are roughly 200 years old

Schooling, as we know it today, can be traced all the way back to the industrial revolution. This means that the teaching methods we’ve come to know are roughly  200 years old, and while they served that time period well enough, they have not kept up with our fast-paced, ever-evolving society. Thankfully, mankind has begun to recognise the need for a transformation in education. “Technology is constantly evolving, so why aren’t schools?” is a question we often ask ourselves. There are a few reasons as to why this is the case, all of which are due to the public believing there is no need for change or becoming reluctant to embrace it. The process is not instantaneous either, which acts as a disincentive for many. While there will be challenges along the way, this shift is inevitable, and we need to help our children prepare for it. The first step should be teaching them to be positive, balanced, morally strong, educated, and critical thinkers. It has been proven that these are the attributes that help children become empowered, effective problem solvers. 

Teaching the youth of our country to be leaders and critical thinkers may seem obvious,  but it is something that we should consider seriously. Research shows that the top 5 skills employers look for are the following: critical thinking and problem solving, teamwork and collaboration, professionalism and strong work ethic, oral and written communication,  and leadership.

It is due to this that we can begin to see why there is a real need for a change in the way we educate children and young adults. Thankfully, people are beginning to realise that online learning may be the change we have been looking for. However, there are some key questions that need to be answered and understood before any plans are made: The first of these questions is, “What is the role of online education?”. Online education is often thought of as a type of digital content delivery (sending children the content they need over the internet), and while this is true, it is not the entire truth. Online education is an internet-based tool that allows for interaction between teachers and students. These types of tools already exist (Microsoft Teams and Google Classrooms being pertinent examples); however, most online learning tools fall short as they lack management systems that support online learning programmes.

What this means is that even though we have online learning tools, we do not have access to any platforms that allow for a well-managed, away-from-school learning plan. Secondly, we need to know if online education is going to be effective. Thanks to a  research paper published by the University of  Toronto, we can see that new teaching methods are being enabled by widespread digital tools. These technologies help facilitate deep learning, highly efficient measurement and monitoring tools, and individualised content and pace of study. Does this mean that online education is fully automated and dehumanised? Absolutely not. However, the perils of technology may still lead us to ask if it is wise to expose our child to these online platforms. Implemented correctly, the benefits and efficiencies of these technologies can only enhance education. It is important to remember that learning platforms can be safeguarded and controlled more easily.

There are also many practical benefits that come with online learning. It allows for the individualisation of content, the learning venue will no longer be a key success factor,  learning materials can be edited, improved,  and redistributed at any time, and there are more opportunities to collaborate with multiple venues.

Lastly, we need to ask how we are going to adapt to an online learning environment. This type of transition will take some courage and commitment from everyone involved, as it can be daunting. Fortunately, it is a transition which means that nobody needs to adjust overnight. We have access to change management strategies which allow us to plot a  path and learn from early adopters who are currently enjoying the benefits.

The possibilities with online education are endless, and the benefits are plain to see. However, we still need to figure out how to implement these systems. It has been proposed that the best way to introduce online education is via a hybrid model of education. A hybrid education allows students to pursue a combination of online and on-campus schooling but requires that learning be seamless and continuous despite the venue. This type of education also facilitates a balance of screen time, allows further flexibility for everyone involved, and leverages the power of an automated progression monitoring system.

The thought of taking on a task as big as modernising an entire education system can be quite daunting, but it is possible. As the world we live in and the technology we use changes, so must the way we educate the coming generations. We are living in an era of change, and it is up to us to ensure that our children are equipped for the future.

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30 JULY 2024 - 2 August 2024

Join us at the Administrators’ Seminar, an annual event for principals, pastors and administrators to gather, connect and enjoy a time of renewal.