Nothing about these past few months have been predictable, and what’s even more unpredictable is what is still yet to come.
So many different industries have been hit hard by the pandemic, and it’s made a lot of people take a step back and really think about what the future holds.
One of these industries have been hit particularly hard, and that’s education.
With most schools in the United States (both universities and k-12) having been closed since March, there has been some time for administrators to think about next steps, yet its still uncertain.
Should schools open up in the fall?
Should they remain strictly online?
And if they do open up, only time will tell what type of changes will be made both short and long term.
Let’s discuss some possibilities.
One of the most likely scenarios for the short term, is that the majority of schools will remain mostly or fully online until a vaccine is confirmed, and even then, it may be tough to switch back to the way things were before.
Already, most universities have decided to remain online for the Fall 2020 semester, while K-12 schools are still uncertain about the immediate future.
Schools that have online classes are learning the various ways that students are reacting, some positively, some negatively.
Some students love the ability to be able to be flexible with their studies, learn and complete assignments on their own time, while others long for the physical congregation of other students and physical classes.
This also can change between the various levels of schooling, such as middle school or elementary school where social and physical interaction between students and faculty is important, and college, where students generally are already more independent.
Quality of Education
Aside from the method of delivery, what about the quality of the education itself?
Does the same quality that students would receive from teachers and professors in the class room translate to online and hybrid learning environments?
Like many of these other opinion based questions, the answer is both yes and no, and largely comes down to the teacher themselves, and the subject being taught.
Naturally, some subjects are better translated to online and hybrid learning environments like English or History, while more hands on subjects such as Chemistry and various math classes require a more physical learning environment.
One of the benefits that is hard to disagree with about generally online schooling and the expected future of education is that there will be a lot more flexibility, on both sides.
Students will have greater flexibility in accessing and learning material as well as completing assignments. And without the restrictions of needing to be in a certain place at a certain time, could relieve stress and other worries that comes with physical environments.
The same goes for teachers, where the delivery method might take some getting used to, planning out course material and helping students directly becomes much more accessible and flexible tasks.
Of course, the hardest thing to imagine regarding the future of education being mostly online is the culture aspect of it.
From high school to college, culture is a big part of the school experience for students.
Sports, clubs, activities, social interactions, dances, proms, parties, and more will become question marks as the way people learn fundamentally change.
While yes, some of these things can be attempted to be replicated online, only time will tell the nature and effectiveness of them.
It’s uncertain just how long it will take for things to truly get “back to normal”, but it is certainly worth imagining what a mostly online educational system would look like.
For some this comes as the next natural advancement in education, utilizing technology and other modern resources to make learning more accessible and effective for all.
And on the other side, it will certainly come with a learning curve, for students, faculty and parents.