The future of virtual education


(A Case Study done on some Teachers and Students)

TRANSLATOR: Salma Syeda

KEYWORDS: Covid-19, Pandemic, Virtual Learning, Education System, Training, Preparation,Students, Schools, Teachers, Digital Skills, Online Content.

Covid-19 pandemic has created a massive devastation to the whole world and the education sector being the worst hit sector. Without prior notice and preparation, teachers were forced to teach online. But one must say that the teachers have acted heroically. This is not just my personal assessment but the consensus of many students who have shared their home learning experience with us.
I interviewed many students and teachers from the past six weeks – Most of them were very uncomfortable with online learning, and had real concerns about its quality and effectiveness. However, When I asked them about what they expect from 2020-2021 school year, they said they wanted a model that included both virtual learning as well as face to face instructions.
During the interaction, the following recommendations were put forward by the mentioned interviewees.

1.Online content should be properly designed.
Most of the interviewed students were of the opinion that virtual content is not designed ,and structured properly. They claim that the content was rigid and was lacking flexibility.
Technology alone can not engage the audience in the learning process, so while developing online systems, schools must draw their own curriculum and a model that combines face-to-face and online learning, and must be deliberately designed for both environments thereby seeking balance between
• Activities in the media and presence space
• Online and offline activities
• Flexibility and structure
• Activities that can be done alone and the activities that require group efforts.
Teachers are always curious to know how much students learn from them. To ensure the coherence of educational spaces, schools need a learning management system that can accommodate content, activities, tasks discussions, feedback, evaluations and so on.

Students interviewed about their experiences with online learning suggested a well-designed, flexible online system that would include the following elements:
• A two way Communicating learning Model where teachers and students can interact. They added that the system should provide a scope for group activities as well
• Interactive System: The students were of the opinion that the new system should be promote interaction. Games, web-based simulations and interactive videos were some of the examples in this regard.

• A system that should focus on personal learning rather than a model which is based on “one size fits all” approach.
• More challenging activities: Projects and activities that address real-world challenges and engage students who have been indifferent to them to date.

2.Prepare trainers for Online training:
One of the positive benefits of emergency online education is that many teachers have learned how to use technology by experimenting in a relatively low-risk environment.
In addition to using online technologies (for example, learning management systems or web conferencing programs) and selecting appropriate web-based technologies to enhance student learning, teachers need developed this skill of managing distance learners in live sessions. But its worth noticing that these teachers need training on online assessment techniques and ways to communicate and facilitate online learning, especially with students who are vulnerable to learning.
To teach well online, teachers should enlist the following tips:
• Direct instructions: Transmit information about concepts, skills, and procedures through lectures, pictures, videos, or online presentations.
• Cognitive learning patterns: Structural activities that not only store information in students’ minds but also motivate them to apply that knowledge in the practical field. Such as: reasoning, problem solving, decision-making, metacognitive strategies and so on.
• Social learning patterns: The system should focus on participatory learning methods; Such as: group activities, discussions and peer to peer teaching.
Most importantly, teachers need guidance and strategies to create a sense of emotional, cognitive, and educational presence so that students feel connected to an online classroom community.

3.Prepare students for online learning:
Changing from traditional education system to online system is a huge challenge as many users are not cordial towards technology and online learning. Most of the students I interviewed, this was their first experience as online learners.
one of the most important things we can do is prepare students for online learning. This includes helping students with:
• Technology training:
• Learning-related productivity skills
• Making classrooms interactive
• Giving a say to the learners
• Establishing Accountability.
• Ensure structure and support for all students and families

4.Prepare schools for online learning:

By using online schools as part of the response to the pandemic crisis, schools must ensure that the requirements and guidelines for equitable education are provided for all students, both at school and at home. This includes ensuring students` access to the Internet, creating the necessary software, and developing new approaches and criteria for attending and participating in an online medium.
. Parents who do not have digital skills may not be able to help teachers with their homework, or their family circumstances may not help with online learning and may need extra help, schools should take note of these points as well. Schools may offer workshops for parents and their children to teach digital learning techniques, establish communication channels, and share their techniques for assessing their child’s progress.

                 There is a lot of ambiguity about the next school year, but planning for a combination of distance learning and face-to-face teaching can help

teachers prepare for this unpredictable situation. Undoubtedly, success in the world of “digital education” requires planning and pursuit.