Vaccinating the Education System

Balaji Venkataraman - Aug 29, 2020


Every year in the last couple of decades, we have come across situations that cause schools to shut, in whichever city we live in across the world. Usually its inclement weather that’s the reason – but there could be others too. Reasons for shutting down schools for a few days are just numerous. In Pune/Mumbai – monsoons play havoc for a few weeks almost every year. Having lived in places such as Boston and Minneapolis, I have seen cities come down to their knees due to blizzards/ snowstorms. When classes get disrupted for a few days, it automatically applies pressure on the teachers and students as they begin to play catch up with the established learning plans for the year.

While inclement weather is a big reason for throwing learning plans off balance; there are others that stand out as well. Inadequate high-quality teachers in a school; or for that matter good teachers departing in the middle of a school year are becoming more familiar than we’d like to see.

A student falling sick is forced to miss classes – and has to play catch up for several days/weeks depending on the number of missed days.

There’s got to be better ways to minimize such risks given technological advances are enabling us to leapfrog barriers every year. The current COVID-19 pandemic has taught us a thing or two on how to make learning impactful and effective by leveraging online mechanisms.

Here are my thoughts on how we can “vaccinate” our Education Systems to ensure we minimize disruptions in learning plans that we come across every year.:

1) Create a harmonious blend of online and offline teaching methods: Now that the world has figured out how to work with online teaching methods, it is critical that we continue to leverage it when offline teaching becomes possible again. Those that can create such harmonies across offline and online teaching methods – will minimize “missed classes” paranoia significantly.

2) Develop a network of teachers across geographies: that allow great teachers in any part of the country to impart (or support) quality teaching in schools – especially so to bridge any gaps with local teacher availability. This approach might just allow us to “discover” passionate teachers that are not accessible to schools/colleges by their physical presence, due to personal constraints. And in the process, we enable educational institutions to provide high-quality education by leveraging the best possible teachers regardless of geographical barriers.

3) Promote experiential learning: Quite often, application-oriented learning takes a back seat – either due to lack of good labs or equipment, due to disruptions in classes, or due to passionate teachers. There could very well be more reasons. Experiential learning is critical to creating a long-lasting impression on students’ minds and thus it cannot be ignored if we intend to provide quality education. Technology has now enabled Virtual Labs to be available – that allow digital replicas of just about any real situation. Virtual labs if developed well can create immersive & interactive virtual environments to foster the highest levels of experimentation. We must leverage them to produce impactful learning outcomes.

Let’s keep the thoughts flowing. Afterall – thoughts are but a prelude to action.

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