Covid-19 brought change to many sectors and the education system endured one of the hardest blows of all. According to UNESCO, 165 countries were forced to put their curriculums to a halt, affecting over 1.5 billion students globally. Yet, a variety of actions were taken by governments and private institutions to enable students to continue being educated remotely.
What type of initiatives were implemented? How effective were they? What will the future of education look like?
The Ortus Club organised a series of virtual knowledge-sharing roundtable events dedicated to top executives in the education sector in both the Philippines and Singapore.
These events provided education leaders with the opportunity to share ideas and experiences with each other as well as some key insights into what will happen post-Covid19.
The events were attended by CEOs, Deans, Academic Directors, Heads and VPs from top schools and universities in Asia like Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and De La Salle University in Manila who took the time to get together to share experiences on the topic of Predicting and Adapting to Education’s New Norm as an IT Leader.
Some of the questions raised included:
1. What immediate challenges have educational organisations faced due to Covid-19 and what preventive measures were taken?
2. What will the new normal for schools and universities look like?
3. What can IT leaders in the education sector do to prepare for the new normal?
We spoke to The Ortus Club to gather some of the main challenges shared during the sessions.
1. Connectivity: With governments all over the world banning mass gatherings, going into both school and offices were no longer an option. This meant that entire families were suddenly both working and studying from home, which raised many issues in terms of internet accessibility. Students who would typically go to school to access the online curriculum now had to find alternatives to continue their education.
2. Financial concerns: Not only did the pandemic affect the education system, but also the economy. Unemployment rates rocketed at the peak of the crisis, forcing students from unfavoured backgrounds to drop their studies to make a living and alleviate their family’s situation. Along these lines, educators have had to be more understanding of the complexities that their students from impoverished households are handling.
From a different perspective, parents and students paying higher fees for private education raised numerous complaints that institutions had to address. Many felt that paying the same fee for online education was not fair and schools had to re-justify their costs to match new deliverables. Installation of new software, implementation, and training of new teaching methods and upgrades to cybersecurity infrastructure are all additional costs that academic institutions hadn’t planned for and many organisations still need to work hard to debunk the notion that online learning is cheaper.
3. Undereducated parents: A participant from the Philippines mentioned the importance of parents being cooperative when it came to their child transitioning to online learning. Parents often did not have the skills or the knowledge to support and guide their children in their studies. This not only referred to the technical skills of accessing online platforms but also to the wisdom required to be an academic educator and rather than a parent.
4. Lack of training for teachers: the pandemic has forced many teachers to work additional hours despite receiving the same salary. Prior to the lockdown, most faculties had not been trained nor prepared to operate remotely or on online platforms. New policies, procedures, and guidelines had to be implemented quickly to adjust to this new learning approach. In a short amount of time, teachers have had to develop their e-teaching capabilities and understand how the virtual educational model worked.
It will be interesting to see how the education sector will evolve in the coming years. With many schools gearing towards offering a purely online curriculum, attracting international students will become a normal focus. Although many institutions have been offering online courses and diplomas for a few years now, these still had some stigma attached to them. Receiving a degree from Harvard might finally no longer require students to move to Boston.