Rethinking education in times of COVID-19


The current educational model is in crisis due to the health emergency of COVID-19. A remote education responds in these times integrating virtual learning, distance learning, learning at home and innovative pedagogies as emerging pedagogies.

Today there is a local and planetary crisis due to the coronavirus health emergency. It would seem that uncertainty and economic recession affect the lifestyles of individuals and families. A return to normality as before is beginning to be perceived as an aspiration to achieve and the diffuse desire for a soon return to our daily lives.

Emergingly, education has adapted its processes to remote education that involves several strategies, such as virtual education, distance education, home schooling, synchronous and asynchronous classes, among others. To this is added confinement, teleworking and a new domestic rhythm in families and in people’s lives. This new scenario, in addition to challenging us to think about another possible education, urges us to respond in an emergent way to guarantee educational processes in these times of a global emergency.

Uncertainty about the future

The feelings of uncertainty about the future and improvisations in the face of the emergency have affected the way in which face-to-face education adopts other emerging modalities. An immediate educational solution has consisted of adapting educational processes to online education, virtual learning or e-learning in a historical era of humanity where technology and the Internet keep us connected, informed and communicated. However, the digital divide continues to be a reality not only for remote places or rural sectors, but also within urban centers or megacities.

Internet access and its lack of signal quality in certain sectors, the lack of updated technological devices that respond to new virtual applications, the lack of a technological infrastructure that meets the needs of family members in times of confinement –For example, a computer for the whole family–, allow us to conclude that online education can be effective in some cases and not in others.

These new emerging scenarios invite us to rethink education not only in formal settings, but also from informal and non-formal settings for education, in which learning can reside outside of formal settings and even outside the educational institutions themselves .

Both daily learning through the use of technologies and connections in information through networks and nodes can be two perspectives that allow understanding in the new virtual environments and environments in which teachers and students meet and interact.

However, this has not been easy for educational institutions since a face-to-face modality has prevailed in recent years, and where non-face-to-face modalities were considered a distant option due to their costs or doubts about their academic quality.

Little teacher training in digital skills

Added to this is a lack of teacher training in digital skills and ineffective integration of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the classroom.

A first equivocal response that has been generated in these times of transformation to remote education through virtual education is to transfer the logic of a face-to-face class to a videoconference or online class.

The sessions of face-to-face class where relationships between educational actors were generated through coexistence and human interaction resulted in long hours of students sitting in front of their home computer and listening to the unidirectional voice of the teacher or teachers.

This spatial change of the classroom by a computer is not a guarantee of ensuring effective learning in students, so this change in educational space led to a change in strategy where educational time bursts.

Temporality as an educational strategy allows learning to be not only synchronous or in real time, but also asynchronous or in deferred time; where the learning time with the presence of the teacher is combined with autonomous learning or personal study, or with practical learning.

Hybrid scenarios

The new family scenarios where the hybridity between study, work and homework prevails have generated a new rapprochement among their members by following the rhythm of their children’s learning, knowing what parents do at work, or promoting how we take responsibility for our family space to become a space for harmonious coexistence, reducing a certain feeling of confinement for no reason, or overcoming the feeling of abandonment of home due to spending so much time away for work or daily activities before confinement or absolute stoppage due to the emergency.

I would dare to elucidate a new domestic educational community, where the student and the parents interact with the teacher and with the educational institution within their home mediated with technology and access to the Internet.

Today the current educational model is in crisis with the emergence of the health emergency context. As a consequence, the opportunity arises to rethink and design another type of possible education not only through emerging pedagogies, but also to reflect on the objectives, content and graduation profile that current curricula pose in order to educate a subject for a high performance and productivity society.

A new planetary order

This health emergency invites us to think about a new planetary order where life itself is privileged in its harmonious relationship with nature, and questions us the reason for an insulting poverty and radicalized marginality in one of the times of greater productivity, opulence and consumption of The humanity.

How can we prepare for a new future in education? How to rethink that another education is possible? These questions invite us to think about a new starting point for education and the new relationships and interactions, as emergent relationalities, between the different actors of the educational community mediated by technology and distance strategies, where education is hybridized within the home and when it is time to innovate and transform teaching and learning.

Another education is possible when a remote education begins to articulate several strategies from online education, distance education, home education, innovative education, technology-mediated education, among others.

There are some educators who predict that the blended modality or the mixed studies between face-to-face and virtual ( b-learning or blended learning in English), will be the immediate way for education to take up face-to-face strategies in the long term; or it will be the emerging strategy to return to a face-to-face education, even if it is partially or temporarily.

Author Bio: Jorge Balladares is the Academic coordinator of the Virtual Education Management Unit at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolivar