In the higher education space, educational theorists discuss how the sudden transition to elearning may be the revolution that we have all been waiting for. School structures are incredibly resistant to transformation and this disruption—as a result of the pandemic—provides an opportunity to question the way schools have been functioning. In the weekly webinar series Silver Lining for Learning: Conversations about the Future of Education, thought leaders raise questions about potentially positive outcomes from this experiment in forced remote learning. For example:
- If we don’t have to group student classes geographically by block, can we create more diverse learning communities with groups of students from around the world?
- When national exams are suspended, why not think about setting more meaningful goals for students instead?
- If students are no longer showing up for virtual classes based on subjects determined in the previous century, what if class topics are reimagined around student interest and challenge?
- If smaller class sizes are required to prevent the spread of disease, isn’t that a win for educators and students who benefit from smaller student-to-teacher ratios?
“We all see invisible walls that aren’t really there because of all those years of being a student in the conventional system,” said Dr. Chris Dede, Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies, Harvard Graduate School of Education. “If we work together, we can unlearn together to really be creative about what’s possible with this. I think there are opportunities here not to rush into something, but instead, to be playful about evolving bottom up, a whole set of things, and then look at ways of integrating them together.”
In the spirit of imagining a silver lining to this difficult time and recognising that educators need practical suggestions now, Intel commissioned the Educator’s Guide to Elearning. This free guide provides a deeper dive into the innovative skill development necessary for students to succeed in the industry 4.0 economy. These projects ideas, tips, and practical resources help teachers to think proactively about building students skills for innovation while simultaneously solving some of the immediate struggles of distance learning.
Topics include ways for educators to:
- Incorporate Design Thinking
- Support the Social and Emotional Needs of Students
- Integrate Computational Thinking
- Start Coding and Investigating Computer Science
- Apply Simulations, Modeling, and Artificial Intelligence
The guide also provides strategies for educators to dovetail student interests and passions with skills that will be beneficial to their futures. Thinking back to my ten years in the classroom—whether teaching face-to-face or remotely—I remember clearly how giving up was never an option, and that is even more true today as educators figure out day by day how to to best meet the needs of their students.