In the context of the recent events going on in the world, the society has managed to adapt quickly to a new environment. The sphere of education has not been an exception. While distance learning has made education more accessible, it has also caused much stress for students, parents, and teachers while preparing for writing an essay or making research.
Sal Khan, a pioneer in online education and founder of Khan Academy, gives his piece of advice for online learning over digital devices. His non-profit educational organization offers a collection of online learning tools and video classes. This educational idea was realized in 2004 when Khan, then a hedge fund manager, initiated math lessons for his 12-year-old cousin through Yahoo Doodle. Later on, it turned into one of the world’s leading internet education resources that was translated into 46 languages. Its customer base reaches almost 100 million. Thanks to the support of the Gates Foundation, Google, and some other investors, this educational idea has become available free of charge to everyone.
When school started closing down due to the pandemic, his resource experienced rapid growth with over 30 million people using his education material. These were mainly parents and educators who were looking for resources required to help children in their academic endeavors. So, Sal Khan knows the strengths and weaknesses of remote learning, which allow him to make the most of it.
The idea of staring at a screen for hours can hardly be viewed as something good, both health- and education-wise. But the world is changing. And these are the new realities people have to live in. Children need the social interactions for self-development. For some of them, distance learning happens to be their only connection to people outside their family. So, if parents and teachers can create interactive and personalized lesson plans, young students will more chances of gaining sufficient knowledge and skills to be used throughout their life.
To make it more bearable for kids to learn the material remotely, they are to be involved in shorter sessions with more breaks. For example, one lesson should last up to 30 minutes and be followed by a nice break with a healthy snack.
Even though distant learning may seem less difficult for teachers, it is not actually the case. One person cannot give a lesson to several groups simultaneously. A child won’t be able to learn anything properly. Khan suggests conducting short video conference sessions of 10 minutes with smaller groups of up to 10 students. This will help them feel more comfortable and encourage them to be active in a distance learning class. Without emotional support and motivation, kids will refuse to join the process of online learning.
For older students, teachers should set the educational goals with the accent on individual work. At the same time, every assignment needs to be checked properly by the teacher. When they get in on Google Hangout, Google Meet, or any video conference, they should be able to join a one-way lecture-based interaction where they answer questions, work on video conference breakouts, proceed with goal setting, and do some small group sessions. Try to analyze and identify the achievable results in a day. Actually, it is a real goal for good educators if they want to optimize the educational process. They’re setting goals for the day, they’re setting goals for the week, and so on. At the same time, they’re doing regular check-ins. Without goal setting, it will be hard to organize the educational routine for children. While staying at home, they can be confused with a great amount of free time so that it can be used for wrong purposes. This is something that needs to be taken under control not only educators but also parents.
Over the last decade, most educational resources have actually been developed around practice and feedback, as well as guidelines for teachers and kids to progress in their studies. Now, it is important for school districts to focus on the basics such as reading, writing, and calculating. If children master these skills, they will be able to pick up the information in all other disciplines. If children cannot demonstrate a satisfactory result in these skills, they will hardly be able to learn something else.
The worsening inequality in distant learning is one of the biggest concerns in the education sector. Some regions have no access to the Internet and some people have no laptop or PC to join online classes. For example, there are only 5%-10% of kids in Mountain View, California, who can join a class. The rest of local kids cannot spend sufficient time with peers and adults in academic settings. As a result, they have huge educational gaps and need additional support. What’s important is that they are going to need even more help when they come back to school.
According to Khan, this is where the national and local governments should step in. The additional financial support will make it possible to optimize the accessibility of remote learning in different parts of the country. At the same time, he admits that this issue doesn’t have one simple solution. There is some complex work that needs to be done to make remote learning accessible to everyone.
The government can refer to the tech industry that can offer various tools and mechanisms that can solve or, at least, minimize the problems associated with the accessibility of distant learning. There are lots of good instruments out there that have been already tested and even engaged.
For example, Lexia, Raz-Kids, and Newsela are some non-profit organizations that aim to make remote learning even more flexible and accessible for everyone. Google Classroom on the LMS is one of their products that provides an optimized online learning environment with multiple options for chatting, video-conferencing, talking, and so on. Alternatively, there is also Moodle software that is suitable not only for the academic use but also for the business purpose.
So, what needs to be done to make remote learning more efficient for students, parents, and teachers? First, you should make the school requirements clear for yourself. By trying to so what has been asked, you should analyze whether this format of education is suitable for you and your child. If you feel that something about it doesn’t work for you well, just discuss it with your teacher. At the same time, parents should not blame teachers for anything. For earning relatively moderate money, teachers have the most important mission to educate children in the modern realities. They have to go through a lot right now, so you’re blaming will hardly motivate them throughout the educational process. If nothing can be changed, you should consider alternative options.
The situation caused by the pandemic does push people into the future at a faster. You must admit it, whether you want it or not. If it lasts for another year, it will have undeniable effects on young people. The sphere of education will never be the same by being equipped with new methods and approaches to learning.
If you really want to leverage an instrument similar to Khan Academy for homework, you should make sure that children and parents have access. That can be a new normal coming out of the challenging situation. Considering the realities of the modern world, people will have to meet the deep end with technology and video conferencing sooner or later. By engaging techno logic advances into the educational sphere, you will experience some negative long-lasting impacts. After all, every kind of radical change requires time and effort for adaptation.
Educators and parents should always consider the psychological state of a child while planning the education process. Despite the visual simplicity of remote learning, it can cause a high level of stress and anxiety similar to land-based schools and colleges. Also, parents can feel stress as a result of worries about the timely development of their children. If one of the parties experiences any kind of negative emotions, it’s going to create a really hard environment to learn at home. It won’t be good for you as the parent or educator, and it won’t be good for children as well. To avoid such a problem, Khan suggests adults to be very open by discussing one’s feelings and emotions with each other.
While you can only guess what the pandemic brings us in the future prospects, you should think creatively about ways to support students in class, online, and at home. Educators and parents are responsible for creating a comfortable and motivating online environment for children to gain sufficient knowledge and develop good skills as effectively as in the land-based venues. Thus, the efficiency of the remote learning depends on the successful cooperation between parents, educators, and children throughout the educational process.