Mar 3rd, 2021
Since March 2020, many countries have enforced lockdowns to control the spread of COVID-19. These measures have affected most sectors, including education. For the first time, learners put their studies on hold to watch how everything unfolds. Thankfully, many governments have worked out ways to ensure learning continues. The result is a paradigm shift in the average student’s daily life.
The pandemic’s major impact was a suspension in educational activities across all levels. Before, learning went on as usual, with scheduled lessons, exams, and school breaks all planned. Pre-COVID-19 times were marked with certainty, and there was a sense of direction.
A few months later, everything changed. Many learning institutions closed their doors, hoping to reopen in a few weeks from March. Weeks turned to months, and before the dust could settle, half the year was gone. These unprecedented events changed the lives of students globally.
Nothing was certain anymore. International students had a challenging time facing lockdown away from their homes. Some had to postpone their courses as they hopped on flights back to their countries.
Massive Shift to Online Learning
In recent years, online learning has gained popularity globally and is now a major player in the education sector. The public’s massive uptake of technology has given a lifeline to remote learning. Educational institutions were already experimenting with digital learning, either full-time or part-time. Choosing to study online or attend classes was a matter of personal preference for the average student.
After the onset of the pandemic, the shift to online learning has been on a scale larger than seen before. For the first time in years, learning institutions stared at the possibility of indefinite closure. A few months down the line, most schools took measures to organize online classes and ensure students can pick up from where they left.
It was no longer about choice, and everyone had to embrace digital classes. Even with the reopening of schools, many institutions continue to educate people online. The demand for online essay writers is also at an all-time high, given that instructors don’t lower their expectations.
Isolation and Less Interaction
Many learners look forward to school to meet and interact with their peers. The average student spends at least eight hours of their day in school. They make friends and form their first social networks. Sports tournaments and national competitions went on as usual before COVID-19 reared its ugly head.
After the pandemic began, students had to contend with many changes. Apart from limiting movement, these measures meant that one stays at home and does all learning from there. Isolation and lack of social interaction are problems that many students had to face during lockdowns.
One of the challenges of traditional learning models is giving timely feedback to the students. For effectiveness, teachers need to address any concerns as soon as possible. Depending on the class size, instructors faced significant difficulties regarding feedback. As a result, students also had a hard time getting the most out of their classroom experience pre-COVID-19.
Post-COVID-19 lessons shifted to the online space and brought positive changes in terms of giving feedback. Using the corresponding platforms and communication tools like Zoom and Google Docs, it is possible to comment on a student’s performance in real time. Analyzing individual work and sharing information is much easier due to these apps.
Before their closure, most educational institutions had a traditional approach to examinations. Main exams took place in school, and instructors strictly monitored them to deter cheating. Generally, there was consensus about the feeling of inclusivity among students. Grading was straightforward since everything was transparent.
Post-COVID measures have posed a major challenge to the examination process. Students from various backgrounds face difficulties keeping up with online learning demands. The home and neighborhood might not be conducive to learning for all, and some individuals feel left out.
Consequently, there are mounting concerns about leveling the field for all students to ensure fairness. Online exams are problematic when it comes to cheating. Besides, parents and guardians are wary of surveillance that threatens their privacy.
Social Distancing in School
Social distancing has become synonymous with the pandemic. Previously, regular students didn’t mind sitting close to each other. The positional arrangement in class, dining, and school halls reflected normal social relations. Some schools have already been working at full capacity, and the idea of social-distancing was inconceivable.
Many governments have set up guidelines for the gradual opening of schools. Students now sit individually, separated from their classmates, following government regulations. Yet, social distancing poses a challenge for many institutions. Despite the safety concerns, enforcing such rules in learning centers is easier said than done. Some schools have fewer classrooms than necessary to facilitate social distancing.
Everybody recalls pre-COVID-19 times when masks were unnecessary for students. Some nations, especially in East Asia, were already wearing masks before the pandemic. Yet, it appeared as a new concept to many other countries. It was even ridiculous or thought-provoking seeing anyone with a mask in learning institutions.
Nowadays, many people appreciate the role of masks in preventing COVID-19. Educational institutions worldwide have made wearing face masks obligatory.
With no end in sight for the pandemic, masks remain an invaluable resource for safer learning. It brings certain discomfort and public uproar in some countries, but the uptake by learning institutions is commendable. It is a small price to pay for saving lives.
Higher Hygiene Standards
Every school had a unique hygiene routine before COVID-19. Most institutions didn’t monitor individual students’ hygiene habits. Learning went on without much thought on enforcing cleanliness. General cleaning procedures mainly focused on maintaining a conducive environment for all.
In 2020, an emphasis was placed on the high standards of hygiene for all institutions. In particular, hand washing and sanitizers placed at various convenient locations became a necessity. High hygiene requirements are an important preventive measure against COVID-19. Sure, young learners occasionally forget to wash their hands and use sanitizers. However, their teachers can remind them what to do to keep the infection at bay.
Increased Parent Participation
Pre-COVID-19 learning was devoid of high levels of parent participation. Apart from occasional calls and school visits, there was little to show commitment in their children’s lives. Given the hectic lives modern parents lead, it is clear that they lack time to show support in schoolwork. It is difficult for teachers to engage parents in their child’s studying.
With the shift to online learning, parents’ support and understanding of children’s learning needs have increased. For instance, parents of young learners assist their kids in using online learning platforms during lessons. With such dedicated involvement, children are more likely to attend all classes and register better grades.
Graduation is a big deal for all learners, and it is filled with lots of joy. Parents and students all look forward to this day – the culmination of years of hard work and perseverance. Students get to celebrate it with their family members and close an important chapter in their lives.
Post-COVID-19 graduation ceremonies have taken place online across several institutions. Students dreaming about a normal graduation day had to accept that things have changed. Despite disappointment among them, many still find great relief graduating virtually after a tough academic year. Regardless of its shortcomings, virtual graduation is as life-changing as a traditional one.
Facing Educational Inequalities
Education inequalities are not a new phenomenon. They are prevalent in most countries and constitute a sad reflection of the current world. Students come from diverse backgrounds. Some of them suffer extreme poverty, while others enjoy an abundance of opportunities. Private and public learning institutions provide different education standards despite sharing a curriculum.
Pre-COVID-19 times have made these inequalities much more obvious. More people are aware that there is a discrepancy between the well-to-do and underprivileged individuals in education. For example, disadvantaged students may lack learning resources like online interaction tools and find it difficult to access the Internet.
Despite these challenges, all students pass similar exams. As a result, many stakeholders develop different strategies to promote fairness in the learning environment.
Life before and after the pandemic provided the average student with varied experiences. While there have been some notable gains for the education sector, there is still a need for improvement. Students explored the possibilities created by technology for learners. Despite missing out on the social aspect of learning, they were lucky to attend classes virtually when people worldwide were fighting for their lives.
There is hope for a quicker return to the pre-COVID-19 times with the development of vaccines. The changes brought by the pandemic are hard to erase, and some, like the digital migration, are here to stay. The resumption of learning is a clear sign of human resilience – finding a way to continue thriving in the face of challenges.