The importance of elearning in the time of COVID 19
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According to UNESCO about 1.2 billion students in 143 countries have been affected by school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These students are enrolled in pre-primary, primary, lower-secondary, and upper-secondary levels of education.
The story is no different in Ghana, the president in March 2020 ordered all schools and universities to close in order to help slow the spread of COVID 19. The impact of the pandemic on education is very clear and has disrupted teaching and learning. The education sector has tried to adapt by leveraging elearning technology to reopen schools. The largest elearning adoption in the history of education happened when the Chinese government instructed about 250 million full time students to resume studies using various elearning platforms.
The government of Ghana in March, launched an online learning platform for Senior High Schools. This platform gives students access to video lessons, lesson notes, virtual labs and simulations. The change in the educational landscape has caused a rise in the adoption of many elearning solutions to enable the continuous dissemination of information and teaching materials to students.
elearning is no longer an option, it is a necessity
It is now imperative that every school adopts and implements an elearning platform and a comprehensive school management system. An elearning platform is a web based platform that enables teachers or schools to deliver learning content, resources, assignments and quizzes to students remotely.
A comprehensive elearning platform enables students to have an interactive learning experience without being on school premises. The outbreak of COVID 19 has now made the importance of elearning evident. What does this mean for the future of education? Is the traditional classroom gone for good?
While some believe that the rush to adopt elearning platforms will dissipate after the pandemic is gone, other industry leaders believe that a new educational model will emerge, this new model will be a hybrid of traditional education and information technology.
This has been suggested by the Vice President of Tencent Education, Wang Tao.
“I believe that the integration of information technology in education will be further accelerated and that online education will eventually become an integral component of school education”
What should schools in Ghana do?
Information technology has impacted education over the past few years and it is projected to play an integral role in education, hence, schools in Ghana should make sure they are not left behind in the ongoing educational revolution.
Schools in Ghana should make sure they have laid down strategies to cover these main aspects of elearning.
- Realtime teaching and interaction
- Availability and dissemination of learning resources
- Assignment grading and feedback
- Communication between teachers/schools and parents
Some schools in Ghana have already started using communication platforms such as Zoom or Google meet for real time teaching and a spreadsheet software such as Excel for recording attendance and assignments. Some schools also upload pre-recorded video content on Youtube and then use Whatsapp to communicate with parents to alert their children when new videos are uploaded.
All these are good initiatives but the process is fragmented and can be daunting managing all the various aspects of an online class using multiple software tools. This increases the possibility of students not getting notified about learning materials and students missing classes. This approach also makes it difficult for teachers and parents to monitor the progress of students.
Schools should therefore adopt a comprehensive elearning or school management system that will enable them implement their online learning effectively.
The best elearning platform
There are so many elearning solutions available but schools should make sure they assess potential platforms before making a choice. Choosing the wrong elearning platform will not make your online class streamlined and may do more harm than good.
The ideal elearning platform should have the following features:
School management system
The elearning platform you choose should provide all the tools you need in one centralized platform. It should provide you with tools or modules to help you manage other aspects of your online school such as student enrollment, parent communities, publication of schedules, alerts and an e-library. If possible your elearning platform should be part of a school management system.
Assignments and feedback
Giving assignments and feedback helps teachers to evaluate their students and guide them to achieve their full potential. Your elearning platform should make the creation of assignments and quizzes easy. It should also ensure that students can easily complete and submit assignments while making it possible to attach files and images. Teachers should be given the ability to give feedback per question or per each assignment.
Auto grading and reports
These are crucial time saver features for teachers, auto grading enables teachers to automatically mark and grade assignments and quizzes, hence students can get timely results. Report generation helps teachers to collate and generate assessment reports for each student automatically.
Having these features present in your elearning platform will help your teachers save time and focus on creating valuable learning materials. This will in turn improve the overall quality of your online learning experience for both teachers and students.
Tracking and monitoring
Tracking and monitoring of students should be an integral part of the elearning platform you choose. It should be able to let you know which students took part in a class, reasons why students could not join a class, which students completed an assignment or quiz and which books or resources students are engaging with. This will help track the effectiveness of your online class and enable you to identify where to make adjustments.
The elearning platform you choose should have a library that gives students access to ebooks, textbooks and other study materials. Books that students have engaged with should be available offline. It should allow teachers to monitor students' engagement with reading materials, this will help teachers plan their teaching notes well.
Schools should embrace the technological changes taking place in the educational sector. Schools should plan and implement strategies that will incorporate technological solutions into teaching and administrative processes.
A new horizon is here and if you are a school owner, teacher or headmaster you should ask yourself, am I prepared? Is my school technologically ready? You need to make sure your school stays competitive and not left behind in this new era.
We can all survive the changes COVID 19 has presented if we can adapt as a society and look for innovative ways to tackle the challenges.
If you are a school owner, teacher or a headmaster looking to implement an elearning platform for your school, then you can try SmartSapp. SmartSapp is a school management system with an integrated elearning platform that has all the necessary features you will need to run an effective online school.