“We need technology in every classroom and in every student and teacher’s hand; because it is the pen and paper of our time, and it is the lens through which we experience much of our world.”— David Warlick
I can recall where I was when I realized that education as we knew it was going to change forever. I was in my office listening to my colleagues and exchanging banter with them. Occasionally, the guests who came to discuss their ideas joined us or briefly interrupted our talk. Then I felt the ceaseless vibration on my wrist that indicated an incoming call on my phone and I looked at my phone’s screen.
It was my son’s Principal. Just a week ago, their school had dismissed them midweek due to the growing unease surrounding the global pandemic by COVID-19; otherwise known as corona virus. I stepped out of the room and his Principal greeted me. Then he told me that they were going to launch teaching the students online using one platform. I was speechless for a couple of minutes because I could hardly believe what I was hearing. For over 4 years, I had been trying to train the teachers at their school for free around the 21st century skills and infusing technology. Yet, due to a situation beyond anyone’s control- necessity gave birth to innovation.
The school sent out a bulk SMS message stating that school would resume at 7:30 am that Wednesday (I received a phone call from the Principal on Tuesday- the day before.) It was a good move by the Principal, reaching out to assuage parents; especially ones that were heavily engaged with the school. The school went online less than 24 hours later; and it was a learning curve for everyone- students, teachers and their parents.
A week later, the school is still online, ahead of the lockdown order that was issued by the President of Nigeria Sunday March 29th, 2020. Students share ideas via audio and video calls on the online teaching platform that they use. They read notes posted, share their ideas and confer with their teachers when necessary.
As a scientist and an ardent researcher, I can’t help but see that we are part of the world’s biggest edtech experiment that has ever been implemented by mankind in history. Over 1 billion students across the work are out of school, millions of students going on board to online school. It will redefine what schooling looks like, what education involves and learning entails. The Corona virus is leading teachers, students, parents and the community at large to use critical thinking, be creative, communicate and utilize collaboration.
This is the moment that we have been waiting for in the education reform movement. Students taking ownership for their learning, sifting through the material- finding out what they life, deciphering how they learn and what help they need from their teachers & parents. Their learning becomes more personalized and now that this transformation has begun, there is no turning back.to how things used to be.
Yet, with all of these positives, this crisis has highlighted the digital divide that exists between people who have access to the internet due to either their inability to get devices, data or their lack of digital literacy skills.
I realize that it is transformational for both teachers and their students; recent events and our hope is that education doesn’t revert back to business as usual afterwards as the world as our students know will be forever changed by this pandemic. There will be rising unemployment and a global recession- situations that would require dramatic changes in education and their futures.
Today on day 2 of the lockdown edict in Lagos, Nigeria- I am contemplating the mental effects of the lockdown on our students and how returning back to the classrooms would be tough on both the educators and their students. This will be the subject for contemplation for another article.
Adetola Salau; Global Educator / International Speaker / Author/ Social Entrepreneur/ Innovative Thinker/Future Readiness Advocate/ STEM Certified Trainer
She is an Advocate of STEM Education and is Passionate about Education reform. She is an innovative thinker and strives for our society & continent as a whole to reclaim it’s greatness.