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September 29, 2020

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Innovative online education brings out strength

The new norm of COVID-19 has brought online education under educators’ scrutiny. Lesley Meyer, chief education officer at Dulwich, spoke out to Shanghai Daily about the role technology will play in the post-COVID-19 educational system.

Q: What will education in a post-COVID-19 world look like?

A: The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged educators around the world to rethink our approach to education.

Many think online learning is a temporary “fix” until schools reopen and things go back to normal, but as schools begin the process of reopening, we are anticipating that many things not only might, but actually should, look very different from before. Education in a post-pandemic world will look different and schools are going to need to be more innovative than ever.

Parents should look for schools that place a strong emphasis on innovation, because these are the schools that will tackle challenges head on with creativity, which will ensure that they will come out stronger than ever before.

Q: What are the challenges for learning in 100 percent online education?

A: Relationships are the foundation of education which include teachers, students and parents. In the online environment, all these relationships have to take a new form.

Students cannot spend face-to-face time with their friends and their teachers. Teachers find it more challenging to gauge the atmosphere in the room or the level of learning.

The challenge, especially for students and teachers, is to use the technology platforms available to them, and think of new ways of working, new ways of relating and building that precious sense of community and belonging. At Dulwich, assemblies, competitions and online “social” gathering have been held. Students themselves have organized choirs and orchestras online, in support of the medical workers in Wuhan, learning video editing, music production and leadership skills along the way.

Q: What are the pros and cons of applying technology in education?

A: Technology has already played a big part in the on-campus classroom — think about the computers, the iPads and the many other digital tools that schools have been using for some time. In the post-COVID-19 world, technology will play a more transformative role, enabling students to learn wherever they are and in new and different ways, providing ever more touchpoints for teachers and students to interact for learning to happen.

However, increasing the role of technology in learning means considering some new safeguarding measures. It is essential that teachers, parents and students are trained to ensure the safety of students online and that they know what to do and how to get help if needed. We have worked hard to develop further our policies and procedures for this online world.

Using technology in learning does not mean that we only provide on-screen learning, where students become consumers of content rather than participants in a learning process. We should focus on developing a healthy balance between digital media, physical exercise and reflective learning. We do not expect a student in school to spend six hours on a screen online, and so we must avoid this for off campus work too.


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