The COVID-19 pandemic has woken the world up from its sleep of mediocrity. Every individual has been forced to up his or her personal and professional game in order to survive in these troubling times. Syed Ali Zia contends why the pandemic might actually be a blessing in disguise to improve the entire educational process.

he COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by the scruff of its neck. The world that we knew has been encumbered by this pandemic. Countries, regardless of their preponderance in global politics, are all at sea against this fast-spreading pandemic. Like other sectors, the educational sector has been gravely affected by the ‘new normal’ caused by COVID-19. The interactions in classrooms have obviously been supplanted by the highly-touted online classes, a change that has ruffled feathers of many a people. While the debate on the merits and demerits of online classes in the midst of a crisis is important to jump into, there is no denying that those who set the tone of learning stand to gain from this makeshift arrangement in more ways than one. By virtue of teaching online classes to undergraduate students, the author is well-placed to talk about some of the pay-offs associated with the online conduits of learning.

 

Teaching Overhauled

Foremost is the fact that a teacher has been forced to improve the existing skill set. There is no escape for those who are unwilling to learn and assimilate new tricks of the trade. There are two concomitant advantages of treading on the path of technology-led learning. One, given that digital learning is the future, teachers should be expected to keep pace in a bid to buttress their teaching methodologies. Two, the compulsion to enter into uncharted territories will propel teachers to improve their academic prowess, grip and soundness. This is especially true in an environment where one’s very survival in the crisis-affected world depends upon showing improvements and proclivities to raise the bar.

It is a fact that a teacher has been forced to improve existing skill set. There is no escape for those who are unwilling to learn and assimilate new tricks of the trade.

Online learning has also forced teachers to be better prepared. Cognizant of constant monitoring, teachers are more than likely to be better organized and meticulous. The accountability mechanisms have just risen precipitously, something that is a good step towards improving the standards of learning. Methodical preparations of lectures will lead to better learning outcomes, giving students full value for their money. Perhaps, this crisis is a blessing in disguise for our otherwise lackadaisical approach towards academic accountability. Also, more exposure to the digital space will help teachers explore new resources and avenues of learning related to their own disciplines. There is so much yet to be explored; this bonanza opens up new vistas.

If digital methods of learning are carefully and incrementally inducted in to the mix, learning outcomes and access will improve.

Last but not the least, a student-centered learning philosophy will be given greater impetus. Teachers’ efforts to address students’ issues by making understanding easier and going out of the way will strengthen connections with students. Given that this pandemic has affected both sides of the learning mosaic, a better understanding can be created between them. The handicap of long distance learning can be converted into an advantage. Enunciating with greater clarity and eloquence so as to improve a student’s comprehension is a good practice that will help and enable better conceptual learning. This will be beneficial for both the constituents of a classroom environment.

 

Learning Crisis, Crisis Learning

This learning under a crisis is likely to engender what in the parlance of strategy is called Crisis Learning. Pakistan’s education system is in the grip of crises since the very beginning. The Digital learning is essential during this crises.This crisis could help Pakistan by forcing upon it the concept of active and interactive learning. Although still in its embryonic stages, the shift from rudimentary lecture-heavy models to interactive ones is a welcome sign. Stepping into the world of digital learning was long overdue, and was needed to make education more attractive and accessible. The COVID-19 crisis has been a jackpot for digital education, dealing a severe blow to passivity that lay at the heart of pedagogy-related issues in Pakistan

Online learning has also forced teachers to be better prepared. Cognizant of constant monitoring, teachers are more than likely to be better organized and meticulous.

Now, it is upon policymakers and educationists to tap into the digital world of pedagogy. If the digital methods of learning are carefully and incrementally inducted in to the mix, learning outcomes and access will improve. In the initial stages of the process, greater emphasis should be laid on not only training of teachers in terms of the usage of technology but also on doing away with old and rotten ways of teaching. The idea is to eventually change the paradigm and approach towards education from one that stresses on information-provision to knowledge-creation based on conceptual coherence, research and critical thinking. Students are in need of messiahs and guides. Well-trained teachers who are also sensitive towards their students, could well be the beacons of hope when it comes to resuscitating our inept education landscape. Blessing in Disguise? Pedagogy In The Time Of CoronaThe digital age might just do to the trick towards this end. Thus, the inconveniences pertaining to online learning notwithstanding, there are opportunities aplenty to improve pedagogy, something that lies at the heart of revamping our less-than-ideal system of education. This crisis could become a boon if teachers and students take this online stream seriously, and as a new leap. The responsibility lies more on the teacher than on the student in this two-way affair.

Syed Ali Zia Jaffery is an Associate Editor at Pakistan Politico. He can be reached at @syedalizia1992.

 

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