QF Conference Explores How to Build Resilience in Hard-To-Reform Schools
COVID-19’s impact on education has resulted in disruption and changes to academic institutes across the world. While many have adapted to a new normal by either going virtual or trying other innovative learning approaches, others have been unable to transform or cope with the challenges that the pandemic has presented.
The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), a global initiative of Qatar Foundation, recently convened educational experts from different backgrounds and industries for on online event titled Education Disrupted, Education Reimagined Part II to discuss the future of education and how schools can prepare for upcoming challenges.
One of the sessions at the event discussed ways of making educational institutions more resilient to crises such as a global pandemic.
Get rid of old schooling processes
School are trying to adapt to virtual learning by keeping their old ways of working intact that are not compatible with current circumstances, said Chelsea Waite, Research Fellow at Clayton Christensen and one of the panelists.
For instance, teachers may try to meet a certain number of instructional hours that they have planned for a month or a semester. However, according to Waite, it’s not the number of instructional hours that should matter, but the learning and growth that students are achieving.
“You can’t do the old thing and the new thing at the same time. Policies need to allow schools to let go or retire old processes in order for the new ones to be able to compete,” said Waite.
Set goals, not plans
Another success factor to achieve resilience in education is to design the academic year according to the goals a school wants to achieve, instead of the plans for that year.
According to Waite, many school administrators require teachers and students to follow a certain plan, which often needs to be implemented in its entirety even if it is not working efficiently. Having goals instead of plans, she said, would allow educators to “test the plans and assumptions and adjust it” if the initial setup was to prove ineffective.
“This moment seems ripe for change. But lasting change comes from deep inside schools’ models, not just the circumstances they operate in,” added Waite.
Put students at the center of teaching
A group of students sitting in a classroom listening to a teacher as a one-way form of knowledge transfer does not work in the modern world, said Daniel Dotse, CEO and Co-Founder of Lead for Ghana.
According to Dotse, educators need to learn about their students outside the classroom so they can adjust their teaching based on individual needs.
“Most of the time, we see teachers as the one individual who is the guardian of knowledge and students are the ones who receive the knowledge,” said Dotse. “That level of education is not helpful, as it doesn’t create a partnership between the students and teachers.”
In what he called a “student-centered approached,” Dotse recommended that education systems be completely overhauled to make teachers understand the socio-economic background, lifestyle, and family circumstances of their students, and have teachers know how to reach out to students outside the classroom. Such flexibility would allow learning to continue, such as through home visits, in communities where normal schooling is disrupted but access to technology is not an option.
Change the anti-technology mindsets
All the panelists stressed the importance of making both students and teachers comfortable with technology, especially in communities where use of technology is not prevalent or where it might be seen as a barrier to education.
According to Dotse, students in Ghana are not allowed to bring mobile devices to schools and that culture needs to change. “Tech devices should be the new textbooks,” stressed Doste, adding that technology-driven learning will also help making education accessible to a larger number of students.
Amira Yahyaoui, CEO and Founder of mos.com, who also spoke at the event, said the future of education will be online - even if that is hard for some to digest.
“If Generation Z and the kids of today have to choose between going to school and YouTube education, they would pick YouTube education,” said Yahyaoui, adding that correct use of technology is what will make educational institutions more resilient for the future.
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