Alternative Plans for Educational Institutions

By Lakshman I. Keerthisinghe | Published: 2:00 AM Sep 23 2021
Columns Alternative Plans for Educational Institutions

By Lakshman I. Keerthisinghe 

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” – Benjamin Franklin 

“Education is not preparation for life but life itself” – John Dewey 

After many postponements it was reported the Government has decided to reopen schools. Although the Government is keen to continue the education of children in this country, the decision has been taken to give priority to the health and safety of school children due to the prevailing risky situation but action will be taken to reopen the schools once the risk level diminishes and the situation improves. 

Ministry stated action will be taken to inform the public at least three days before reopening of these institutions to children. It is noteworthy that Higher education has looked different in the past year and will likely continue to be different moving into the future, but in USA even after many classes are able to convene in person. 

Zoom has become a go-to tool used on college and university campuses to make virtual learning and hybrid college classes not only possible but increasingly more engaging. Colleges using Zoom are finding new ways to leverage the tool in both online and hybrid college classes. 

This article looks at some tips for teaching hybrid courses and the benefits they offer, based on the experiences of educators and students during the pandemic that will continue to hold value for instructors long into the future. Yoga Prakasa is a teaching assistant at John Hopkins University’s Carey Business School .

 He and his professor, Luis Quintero, have relied on Zoom to deliver real estate courses to more than 60 graduate students since August 2020. They weren’t though, teaching from the same place. 

Prakasa was teaching from Minneapolis while Quintero was teaching from the Washington, D.C. campus. Prakasa says he thinks colleges will still use Zoom for the better part of 2021. While some schools are beginning to open their doors for onsite learning, many classes are still online. “Even with onsite learning, Zoom will still likely be utilised in conjunction to facilitate remote students,” Prakasa predicts. These students, he says, will include those who can’t be onsite due to lower classroom capacity limits as well as international students who may be facing immigration processing delays. 

Class builds on Zoom to offer teachers and students opportunities for hybrid interactions, even when they are participating from different locations with different levels of access and equipment. 

And the benefits of virtual instruction won’t be limited to the pandemic, he and others say. Michael Fray is a college student who blogs about his studies. While he acknowledges that online Zoom sessions offer convenience and are well-suited for not only classes, but also for events like webinars, employer information sessions, and recruitment events that can be attended from anywhere, he doesn’t believe they will replace live classes. 

“Many classes are unlikely to be replaced with online zoom meetings when in-person alternatives are allowed,” he says. Still, the ability to hold certain types of classes or other interactions online offers conveniences like the ability to attend classes from anywhere, reduced commute times and access to learnings that might otherwise have been impossible. Colleges using Zoom are increasingly doing so in a hybrid world – a world that is likely to continue to leverage the benefits of remote instruction for years to come. 

The Ministry of Education may prepare a viable plan in this regard and necessary assistance sought without delay One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, close to half the world’s students are still affected by partial or full school closures, and over 100 million additional children will fall below the minimum proficiency level in reading as a result of the health crisis. 

Prioritizing education recovery is crucial to avoid a generational catastrophe as highlighted by UNESCO in March 2021. UNESCO is supporting countries in their efforts to mitigate the impact of school closures, address learning losses and adapt education systems, particularly for vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. 

To mobilize and support learning continuity, UNESCO has established the Global Education Coalition which today counts 160 members working around three central themes: Gender, connectivity and teachers. In conclusion, qualified private tutors including retired university professors and other staff may be engaged by the Ministry as our children’s education cannot be jeopardized in this regard due to unwarranted political influences. 

The writer is an Attorney-at-Law with LLB, LLM, MPhil.(Colombo)- [email protected]

By Lakshman I. Keerthisinghe | Published: 2:00 AM Sep 23 2021

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