As the world frantically responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual learning is experiencing a sudden boom. As countries impose quarantine, schools around the world have been forced to shut down and to turn to virtual school and e-learning platforms so they may continue the education of students. Distance learning is not new to the education sector, but not all schools around the world were introduced to it or got the chance to practice it. Thankfully, ISG practices virtual school annually to prepare for any eventuality that may happen based on experiences of the past in Saudi Arabia.
The sudden and unexpected move from campus schooling to homeschooling was not something that came naturally to parents. Even when working in the education sector as I do, the task of becoming an educator at home to two young children was both daunting and challenging. To begin with, I found myself struggling with the sheer workload and expectations for the school. It was really difficult to balance quality time for my girls with work I was required to do as an ISG employee.
Now, after working for a few weeks, virtually with my girls, my perspective on things has changed. I see the amount of work that teachers put in to continue the learning process, the videos that they record of themselves explaining subject content, the resources they utilize to provide further explanations on certain areas, the follow up emails and the quizzes and forms they generate. I believe that ISG teachers really deserve a huge amount of credit for everything they are doing for our children. I really appreciate their tireless efforts, commitment and continuous support of the students in their care. They do this in time away from their own families.
It is a fact that global disruptions have been a contributing factor in the growth of online learning. However, it's clear now that online learning is a much more valuable tool than something to be utilized only during a time of crisis. It has gone mainstream. The opportunity for students to learn anytime and from anywhere in the world is a major factor in the development of this educational tool, although maintaining the quality of the learning is a great challenge for this industry.
After experiencing a successful distance learning, students will have cultivated agency, greater ownership of their learning and developed more self-awareness as learners. Teachers will have gained additional skills through liaising with students virtually and utilizing online platforms. When this pandemic ends, will we witness a new education style and will the future of learning change forever?
For me personally, it has become a worthwhile experience as I guide my girls daily through this virtual experience. However, they miss physical interaction and can become bored easily so it is important that online activities are stimulating and maintain interest. As parents, we have learnt a lot about our own children and discovered more about their educational experience. It has been challenging but rewarding.
‘Teaching is the profession that teaches all of the other professions.’ - author unknown