There was a time when learners couldn’t wait for school to close for the holidays; a time when learners moaned that the holidays were too short; and then wished school would start again because they missed their friends.
Schools closed earlier than planned and will return later than anticipated in a strategy to flatten the curve of Covid-19 infections.
Just as Covid-19 is having an impact on our economic and social lives, it is going to have a significantly large impact on the lives of our learners.
What can be done
A lot has been said in the media, and particularly in the social media, about ‘going online’ for schooling to solve the crisis.
There are calls for digital and online content to be made available to learners. I believe that this could be a very good idea, but we need to face the reality of our schooling system.
I have prepared this infographic as a quick guide to assess how ready you and your school are to switch to teaching and learning online.
What this means for us right now
I want to be clear, this is not an indictment on the state of readiness for online education in South Africa (or as some would want to argue ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution Education’), rather it is a statement that we can do effective teaching and learning with what we already have available to almost every child – textbooks, radio and television.
They are the technologies that got me in a position to write this post – and in all likelihood that allowed you to read it – so let’s not dismiss the tried and tested, especially at this really difficult time in our country.
In fact, the Department of Basic Education and the various provincial departments have already put in place a number of these 1IR and 2IR measures to assist our learners.
What this means for us in the future
Some experts argue that lockdowns could become the new normal for the next couple of years with periods of social distancing to re-flatten the infection curve from time to time.
I think that this crisis does give us the chance now to reflect on the way we teach and learn.
This will mean exploring:
How we can get all teachers ready to work in 4IR learning and teaching environments (teacher training on digital fluency and new pedagogies will be required);
How we can get smart devices into the hands of all of our learners (there are already plans for tablet devices for every learner – these might need to be sped up); and
Internet availability for all learners at home (as a result of the Competition Commission ruling recently mobile operators are talking of providing some free daily data, but this will fall woefully short of a learner’s needs).
And for now?
Let’s do the best we can with what we have and keep our learners learning while we stay at home and keep safe.
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