By Sunidhi Shende, Research Fellow @ Write & Co (writenco.org)
According to the United Nations Policy Brief: “Education during Covid-19 and Beyond”, over 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries and all continents have been impacted by the pandemic. The crisis brought along a range of problems such as the closure of schools, inadequate funding, improper online curriculum, increased dropout rates, and a ripple effect beyond education.
In the wake of this daunting challenge, many school systems have turned to online learning. To solve the problem of inadequate online resources, many innovations emerged in this sector.
- Jamie Frost, an educator at the tiffin school in the UK, created a ground-breaking website for math help-DrFrostMaths, that provides an online learning platform, teaching resources, videos, and a bank of exam questions–all free of charge.
- Engineering students in the Indian state of Kerala created iClassroom, which connects students with teachers through a social media-type interface.
- Tokyo Women’s Medical University is live streaming surgeries in VR for immersive distance learning, and many more online learning platforms have sprung to grow exponentially.
However, one of the greatest downfalls of switching to digital learning is the inequity of resources, which exacerbates the pre-existing educational gap due to social issues. According to reports from the Federal Communications Commission, approximately 20 million Americans do not have access to the internet, with a majority being people of color. Many countries particularly, Asian, African, and South American countries don’t have the technological resources to sustain e-learning as well.
To curb this challenge, many countries and individuals have come up with a range of innovative solutions. According to UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report and information collected by the Edtech Team of WORLD BANK, in countries like Argentina, Croatia, China, Costa Rica, Senegal, Spain, Peru, and Thailand, learning content is being delivered through television and other forms of media.
- In Northern Iraq, UNICEF helped education authorities to launch televised lessons via satellite TV for all grades in seven languages and dialects. 370,000 boys and girls are learning solely through these broadcasts.
- In rural Sierra Leone, teenagers tune into solar-powered radios for their lessons.
- In Maharashtra, India, Ranjitsinh Disale, a teacher in a public school, printed unique QR codes that embedded audio poems, video lectures, stories, and assignments in Kannada. These allowed students to learn even without physical school or the internet.
- China is providing computers and offering mobile data packages and telecommunication subsidies to students from low-income families.
- In Portugal, the government is suggesting a partnership with the post office services to deliver practice sheets to students at home.
With the closure of schools, many children also lost their only source of daily meals. To ensure that the youth’s nutrition does not suffer, in Japan, school lunches are being delivered to families in several school districts. In California, schools are providing meals on a “pick-up and go” basis.
These innovations serve way beyond its initial cause. They serve as a bridge for the students in areas of conflict, refugees, students with disabilities, and many more. Thus, innovation has proved to be the future of education.