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COVID-19, technology, and the future of education.

Technological innovation has irrevocably changed the way the world does schooling. The evolution of the remote classroom, which was already in existence pre-2020, was accelerated at an unprecedented rate as a result of the pandemic. This was because children, parents and teachers were forced to embrace technological innovation as a result of the safety threats posed by Covid-19.

While university students have been accessing advanced, interactive online curricula for almost a decade, this technology became imperative for students of all ages to use, so as not to miss out on their education during the challenging and unforeseen global circumstances. Andrea Leone-Pizzighella, who manages English language instruction remotely from Italy for the University of Pennsylvania, explained that the educational community already had every possible tool available by the time the pandemic hit, and that the threat of Covid-19 forced society to get over its archaic understanding that education could only happen face to face. The adaptable, online format of remote schooling has, for many, become the ‘new norm’ (as the media has dubbed it).

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It could, however, be argued that classrooms were already changing before 2020 and that remote learning is not the only way technology has changed classrooms and the educational community at large, in recent years. Here are some other ways classrooms have changed over the past decade:

Interactive whiteboards replace dusty chalkboards

Technology used in classrooms is all about enhanced images, sensory stimulation and interaction, and new interactive whiteboards allow for this. This means that the dusty chalkboards of yesteryear are no more. The interactive whiteboards allow for feedback and collaborative learning, and are a move away from the passive teacher-to-learner education model of yesteryear.

The dawn of e-book technology

While there will always be a place for printed books, more and more schools are using e-books and this online method of accessing ebooks allows for books to be purchased and accessed without compromising on social distancing regulations. However, even before the pandemic, e-books were gaining in popularity. Teens especially love to access e-books on their Kindle devices and Covid strengthened the cast for online books, and online ‘bookstores’.

Borderless classrooms

Previously, education took place within the physical confines of the classroom. When the bell rang for hometime, it was hometime. Remote learning has resulted in a shift in this model of the traditional classroom, allowing for learners and teachers to collaborate without restriction, and consult on assignments, even after physical classrooms have been vacated.

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Access to knowledge and information

Even before the Covid pandemic, technology had already led to proactive learnership, with learners being given the opportunity to research topics, with a wealth of information and knowledge on each subject matter, at their fingertip. Furthermore, during the pandemic, many learners wanting to better understand topics, began to utilise platforms like YouTube to access video clips, provided by teachers and instructors from around the world. The internet has also allowed for learners to supplement their understanding of a topic using such videos, as well as site material from the web.

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Creation of new roles

Technology and remote learning has resulted in an adaptation of the traditional role of teacher. Teachers have had to step up as facilitators, encouraging learners and parents to explore different topics from home, and guiding them in doing so. 

Most people are aware that we as a society stand at crossroads, and a new era, if you will, has dawned upon as. As illustrated, classrooms have not been exempt from this, and through working technology in our favour and adapting to it, we have forged a new model of classroom, designed to weather the storms of the future.

WORDS: Heather Djunga.

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