The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), a global initiative of Qatar Foundation, at one of the sessions of its recent online event titled Education Disrupted, Education Reimagined Part II, discussed ways of making educational institutions more resilient to crises such as a global pandemic.
School are trying to adapt to virtual learning by keeping their old ways of working intact that are not compatible with current circumstances, said Chelsea Waite, research fellow at Clayton Christensen and one of the panellists.
For instance, teachers may try to meet a certain number of instructional hours that they have planned for a month or a semester. However, according to Waite, it’s not the number of instructional hours that should matter, but the learning and growth that students are achieving.
“Policies need to allow schools to let go or retire old processes in order for the new ones to be able to compete,” Waite said.
Another success factor to achieve resilience in education is to design the academic year according to the goals a school wants to achieve, instead of the plans for that year.
According to Waite, many school administrators require teachers and students to follow a certain plan, which often needs to be implemented in its entirety even if it is not working efficiently. Having goals instead of plans, she said, would allow educators to “test the plans and assumptions and adjust it” if the initial setup was to prove ineffective.
“This moment seems ripe for change. But lasting change comes from deep inside schools’ models, not just the circumstances they operate in,” Waite added.
A group of students sitting in a classroom listening to a teacher as a one-way form of knowledge transfer does not work in the modern world, said Daniel Dotse, CEO and co-founder of Lead for Ghana.
According to Dotse, educators need to learn about their students outside the classroom so they can adjust their teaching based on individual needs.
In what he called a “student-centred approaches,” Dotse recommended that education systems be completely overhauled to make teachers understand the socio-economic background, lifestyle, and family circumstances of their students, and have teachers know how to reach out to students outside the classroom. Such flexibility would allow learning to continue, such as through home visits, in communities where normal schooling is disrupted but access to technology is not an option.
All the panellists stressed the importance of making both students and teachers comfortable with technology, especially in communities where use of technology is not prevalent or where it might be seen as a barrier to education.
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