Continuous learning is the hallmark of personal growth and development. Refusal to keep learning keeps you stuck with old mindsets and makes you unable to adapt in our dynamic and ever-changing world. People devote lots of time and resources to getting formal and informal education that shape their lives and broaden their horizon. Before the COVID-19 era, people learned in various ways: Peer to peer learning where you get to share information and exchange ideas with people on the same level as you meet-up via conferences and breakfast/dinner summits; masterclasses, seminar and workshops organized by individuals and organizations that are passionate about mentoring younger people and helping them find footing in various areas of their endeavors. All these avenues of learning, and more, prepare people for life’s challenges and equip them for the dynamics their own realities pose.
When COVID-19 pandemic struck, everyone had to stay indoors to further prevent spread and help end the disease. This changed the way we did things. Schools closed. Gatherings were prohibited. And although we were indoors, we had to go on learning and growing hence we devised various means to thrive. Face-to-face learning had to be replaced with online learning. Zoom meetings and video calls replaced offline conferencing and workshops. Online chats, live streams, instant messaging and phone calls replaced physical meet-ups. Although online learning had existed for quite some time now, we saw an increasing demand for it in these past few months. The demand was so great that finance experts reported that Edu-tech became one major sector of the economy that actually experienced a boom rather than a hit in this pandemic. Some professors all across the world noted that many of their students interacted better when they were doing so via the online platforms.
But the truth remains that not everyone has access to digital technology. There are regions where internet access is expensive while in some others, it’s a myth or the stuff of legends. In view of these realities, many well-meaning people wonder how effective literacy learning and teaching will be in this period. They are also concerned about the role of educators since there has been a shift in the way knowledge is perceived. The traditional method where the mentees sit still and are imparted knowledge is now obsolete. Today, everyone has access to information on their palms. How do educators adjust in these changing times?
I think that areas with little or no technology have to play catch up or be left behind because the only way to stay relevant in this era is to move with the tide. Holding on the archaic practices and the old ways of doing things is the easiest way to be flushed out by the system. And although the lockdown has been relaxed, lots of people are still reluctant to stay outdoors for too long because we haven’t been rid of the disease entirely. So, we may never get our traditional face-to-face learning centers as packed full as we used to. Educators should invest in the modern way of educating.
First, they should widen their scope. This pandemic and shift in learning has brought us a lot closer than ever. Hence, they should understand that since this is going to be digital – they would be having students or trainees from all across the globe. This should make them tailor their teaching to suit a wider and more diverse audience. They should also get acquainted with and organize learning sessions or classes using various online platforms. These days, some of the popular platforms include Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, Telegram and YouTube. They could also create websites and upload videos or course materials onto them.
Finally, educators should focus on not just teaching the regular things one knows or the things that one can easily access or read about online but also on life skills that can help young people and adults navigate these trying times. Skills like collaboration, empathy, problem-solving, emotional intelligence, creativity and communication are essential and should be emphasized on in this period.