Dozens of public and private institutions see in the continuity of classes through digital platforms a light for not delaying students’ schedules and keeping them academically active. Education is now moving smoothly into homes, where the preventive isolation measure of the coronavirus pandemic is being fulfilled.
At home, but studying. This is how the next few weeks will go for millions of children, adolescents and young people in dozens of countries around the world, after the authorities of the different nations suspended classes as a preventive measure to avoid the spread of Covid-19.
The best immersive education with Virtual Reality
Although the days will take place far from the conventional classrooms, desks and the laughter of their classmates, the educational programs will continue to be the same, in an administrative gamble that aims to prevent the expansion of this outbreak, which since March 11 was characterized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) given the speed of its spread, but not its lethality, truncated the learning of students.
But it is not only the pre-school, primary and secondary education schemes that will have online workshops to encourage progress in understanding the contents during the children’s stay at home, but also undergraduate and graduate university students.
The United States, a pioneer in virtual education
One of the students who took advantage of this modality is the political scientist Karol Solis Menco. She is Colombian. She is 30 years old and has lived in Miami since August 2016, where she moved to pursue a doctorate in political science at Florida International University.
Although she left her country in search of the experience of reaching the highest academic level with American experts in a face-to-face way, in these times, when the spread of the coronavirus forces her to study from home, she assures that it is time to open the debate on the relevance of virtuality also as a high quality alternative.
“There are more and more tools that allow us to dispel concerns about the quality of virtual education. Teachers can create incentives to ensure that their classrooms are of the same quality as the face-to-face ones. Neither option is better than the other, they simply respond to different needs and both have advantages,” says Karol, who even before the outbreak spread was already trying out digital as a teaching assistant in the same programme she studies, as well as taking advantage of social platforms to disseminate key data on the education sector.
Like Karol, there are many stories of Latin American professionals who, far from their families, are facing quarantine in a country that is not their own and to which they only went with the goal of studying, a purpose that they now keep alive in front of screens and editable documents, after universities like Harvard, Columbia and Berkeley began to make virtuality official as a scheme for not delaying their calendars.
Argentina and Iran use television as an educational tool
Studying by watching TV? That question, latent in hundreds of parents, is being cleared by Iranian and Argentinean prototypes.
While in the United States, teachers and students remain connected thanks to the network, the country’s Ministry of Education led by Alberto Fernandez is launching a program called ‘#SeguimosEducando’, which takes advantage of the public television network’s signal to broadcast programming based on special classes, as they have been doing in Middle Eastern nations, such as Iran, for a little more than two weeks.
In Chile, the ‘Remote Learning Plan’ contemplates the use of the Aprendo en Línea platform to access a digital library with study resources and, further north in the Americas, in Colombia, the educational authorities are focusing on the success of ‘Aprende Digital: contenidos para todos’, a strategy that compiles in a single site materials from the different areas of knowledge, classified according to the students’ school grades through a set of catalogues.
By 2030, as projected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), there will be a “new vision of education”, one in which quality, inclusion and value are paramount, which implies investing at least “between 15% and 20% of total public spending of nations” in this sector.
With or without desks, from school to doctoral levels, thousands of students like Karol will turn to digital classrooms in times of the coronavirus in a sign that, in crisis situations, the most important thing is to spread care, not panic. Safe, from their homes, they will exchange pencils for keys, leaves for screens, in a universal call for hope for the continuity of learning.
The coronavirus and virtual technologies
In view of the impossibility of concentrating students in face-to-face spaces, virtual environments and technologies increase their development potential.
the consequences of this disease are being global, causing the economic and social paralysis of many communities, even reaching their isolation. Sectors as relevant as industry, transport, tourism or education analyse the consequences that it may have on their activity and plan actions to deal with it, preventing its spread.
Virtual technologies in the face of the risk of coronavirus
Over the last few months, numerous sports, business or leisure events have been cancelled due to the consequences of the Covid-19. The need for those attending these events to be present in the same space and the risk of massive contagion between them has led to their immediate cancellation, in the hope that these events can be replanned after a reduction in the risk of contagion of the Covid-19 virus.
In the case of Education, the risk of contagion and spread of Covid-19 among students attending the same educational environment is high, so it is risky to bring too many students together in the closed space of a classroom. Faced with this situation of impossibility of concentrating students in face-to-face spaces, virtual environments and technologies increase their potential for development.
Virtual environments and technologies have been growing and developing for years thanks to terms such as “any time, any where” or “learning by doing”, but, in view of the risk of the spread of Covid-19, their expectations of development and implementation as educational resources have increased considerably.
In view of this situation of worldwide propagation of the Covid-19, the main argument in favour of the growth of these environments and technologies in the educational world is the NON-need for students to be present in the real space where the training action is carried out and the possibility of sharing objectives and non-physical virtual models.
The advantages posed by new virtual environments and technologies in the face of the Covid-19 risk, call for the need to immediately invest human and technical resources in its implementation and subsequent development, with the aim of paralyzing educational action for longer.
Thus, in addition to their interest in the education sector, these adaptive, scalable and non-presential technologies have an enormous potential for development in practically any activity.