The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted education worldwide, impacting about 1.6 billion learners It has obligated many education systems across the world to abandon traditional learning approaches and adopt alternative learning approaches In response to the unprecedented educational challenges brought about by the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic, about 90% of the nations worldwide have implemented remote learning policy It was an abrupt but necessary decision as a way of containing the spread of COVID-19 pandemic The response to COVID-19 during the early periods focused on the remote learning modalities as an emergency response Even though the closure of physical learning and moving to remote learning was seen as an emergency precaution, it eventually paves way to the new normal as many of the learners have participated and completed their studies through the remote learning approach Online learning is now the norm in many schools as it has replaced face-to-face teaching and learning The teaching and learning activities have been moved online to allow institutions to continue with education despite the closure of the schools (OECD, 2020) Remote learning has been a significant approach to the effect of COVID-19 pandemic It has been influential across the world as it has brought about the acceleration of the digitalization of the education system and amplification of the role of parental involvement in teaching and learning (Goudeau et al., 2021) Parents can now support their children in schoolwork as they learn at home through online means The covid-19 pandemic necessitated the closure of schools, and online schooling was adopted as an important tool to sustain skills development The closure of schools was significant as it prevented the further spread of the virus among the students If the schools were allowed to continue with the traditional learning methods, there would have been a major virus spread to vulnerable adults at home.
Even though online learning program has been implemented across many quarters, there have been concerns that online learning may have been a sub-optimal substitute for face-to-face instructions, especially when there is an absence of universal access to infrastructure (especially the computer, electricity, and internet connectivity (OECD, 2020). Also, some individuals argue that the lack of adequate preparation among the teachers and learners makes online learning unsuccessful in some instances. Accordingly, there are demands in the schools to be met before online teaching becomes successful. For instructions, implementing online teaching and learning meant that they should rethink lesson plans to fit a very different format of learning approach (Goudeau et al., 2021). Teachers have been required to redo the entire curriculum to teach it online Traditionally; teachers have been required to be present in classrooms to guide the students in different learning fields. However, teachers have faced significant challenges, especially while reconfiguring science experiences that are required to be undertaken in laboratory buildings.
The closure of schools was correct and important during the COVID-19 pandemic as it minimized the spread of the virus among students and the vulnerable people back at home According to the research done by (Goudeau et al., 2021), the COVID-19 pandemic has forced countries to move towards online learning and quickly adapt to new educational context of distance learning That way, the nations have been able to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic among the students As a result, it has prevented the students from taking the virus to their homes, impacting the vulnerable communities When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, education stakeholders and administrators were worried that the virus would hugely impact the education system As the closure of schools was effected, teachers had to develop online teaching materials, which allowed learners to continue with their academic practices while at home and eventually reduce the spread of the virus The World Health Organization (WHO) advised school administrators to adopt online learning and the closure of physical learning as the most appropriate mode of containing and restricting the spread of COVID-19 Widespread remote learning programs, including televisions and radios, have been significant in ensuring continuity of learning among the students Until the period when effective vaccines are realized, learning through online means is the most preferred to contain the spread of the virus among learners (OECD, 2020) Therefore, localized and temporary school closures will still be needed to restrain the spread of the virus In normal circumstances, people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic are required to self-isolate However, in schools, there is a problem of inadequate spaces for the learners to isolate themselves The only important approach is to utilize remote learning to save children from the effects of COVID-19 pandemic It has been the norm of academic administrators across many schools to identify, adopt and implement the best approaches to maximize the effectiveness of online teaching and learning.
Another important benefit of the online learning approach, which made the closure of schools and adoption of online learning correct, is the ability to allow parents to participate and assist their children in their academic practice and engagements Primary and secondary school students suddenly had to work hard and get much support from their teachers and classmates through video conferencing, email, and other digital tools Since students spent much of their time learning while at home, parents had an opportunity to monitor how the learners were participating in learning activities For college learners, the closure of schools meant that the learners had to travel back to their hometowns and stay connected to continue with their learning (The World Bank, 2020) Parents at home were allowed to monitor and ensure that learners engage in their learning activities, ensuring continuity of education during home stays Participating in academic learning among the parents is a sure way of understanding whether the learners are progressing in their academic fields It means that remote learning has provided an opportunity for the parents to understand how their children are taking part in the field of academic Parents can also take part in decision-making with regards to the learning abilities of their children (The World Bank, 2020) If the parents feel that their children are not performing as expected, they can consult the learning institutions and solve the problems related to them.
Also, the closure of schools was correct since it resulted in the acceleration of the digitalization of education and amplified the role of digital tools in teaching and learning environment Initially, many schools had not embraced digital teaching and learning approaches However, as the pandemic ravaged and the closure of schools came into reality, the digital learning environment was embraced by many schools Therefore, there has been a growth in online learning among many nations in the world In many countries, online learning has become one of the most significant approaches to solving problems related to distance and the cost of learning through face-to-face learning (The World Bank, 2020) Many countries are now working towards improving digital learning programs over the face to face learning programs Despite contributing to the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic, the closure of schools and the adoption of remote learning have been realized as effective way of solving pertinent problems relating to face to face learning In addition, remote learning has solved the problem of costly education relating to the physical learning approach.
Education which is a dynamic process, ought to accept the changes and improve to solve the problems Innovative teaching strategies and techniques are thought to be an interactive and interesting way of learning Some students who were initially impacted by the problem of distance from their homes to learning institutions have now been able to access the learning materials online They will not be required to move from their homes to schools It means that the issue of learning among students is no longer a problem Also, in the process of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become mandatory thing to utilize innovative teaching strategies and techniques such as video-based learning, team-based learning, and peer teaching Online learning now provides an interactive and interesting active, and innovative learning method putting the student at the center of learning with ease (The World Bank, 2020) Therefore, by closing physical learning and moving to an online method of learning, education administration has been able to provide an opportunity to different learners across the world to access learning regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds (Gorey, 2021) In the modern period, the world is still facing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the online learning is making it easy for learning and teaching to continue undisrupted The situation remains fluid because of the turbulent waters related to the COVID-19 pandemic There is still an international and national escalation of the infection rates and as lockdown restrictions are lifted, resuming back to physical learning methods remains unpredicted Institutions of higher learning have reshaped online learning to ensure its long-term benefit in the contemporary world.
On the other, the decision to close schools and move to a remote learning approach was not a correct move as it was a rush and an overreaction to a virus that was not particularly dangerous to children The move resulted in more harm to students Globally, the world was not prepared to adopt and implement a remote learning approach For instance, some areas had the challenge of electricity and internet connectivity At least 31% of the learners from pre-primary to upper secondary schools cannot access education because of a lack of policies supporting electricity and internet connectivity (UNICEF, 2020) In addition, there is a lack of policies that support digital and broadcast remote learning and also a lack of household assets required to receive digital learning Learners in rural homes are particularly affected individuals, and they represent a huge percentage of learners who were disadvantaged from online learning Such students cannot access teaching and learning materials Also, low-income countries have a higher number of students who cannot access education because of poor electricity connectivity and internet connectivity Research shows that three to four learners who cannot be reached live in rural areas (UNICEF, 2020) Therefore, there have been many concerns that online learning is only available to children from areas that can access broadband connection at home, which is fast enough to support online learning Even though many areas have successfully implemented and supported internet connectivity, there are still many other geographical areas and groups of populations which are underserved and unable to access online learning materials Besides, for effective learning to be realized, learners need to have access to such devices as computers and other necessary software However, the lack of such important devices has made the remote learning experience unsuccessful in most geographical areas.
More importantly, the closure of schools and moving to online teaching and learning has been dangerous to learners in that students have not received a sufficient number of hours of instruction. For instance, in the United Kingdom, 68% of public learning institutions through online learning mode have exposed students to only less than one hour of daily online learning In the United States, 70% of the students who learned online do not receive sufficient time required for them to meet contact hours (Gorey, 2021) Therefore, education policy makers need to understand the factors needed for children to receive sufficient learning instructions The absence of adequate preparations in schools and among teachers is a major contributor to poor outcomes of online learning during the pandemic Because of that, many major learning institutions have realized poor quality learning outcomes among the students as compared to the traditional physical learning approaches.
Besides, the closure of schools and moving to online learning was not correct in that there was a lack of digital skills preparedness among the learners and teachers The COVID-19 occurrence was an emergency and left many learning institutions unprepared to go online Reports from the WHO demonstrated that by the time the virus started ravaging the world, many schools lacked adequate technology to implement online learning as an alternative to the traditional face to face learning Therefore, students who were not conversant in using technology for their learning were disadvantaged Besides, teachers who did not have the skills to provide teaching and learning materials to the students also made the online learning experience difficult and unattainable in some quarters For instance, some teachers might have struggled to adapt to online teaching because they lack adequate digital skills (UNICEF, 2020) That also contributed significantly to the poor quality of learning among the students To ensure the success of online learning, it is of great significance for the government and school principals to support teachers in incorporating online tools for the effective issuance of instructions and also for fostering teachers’ pedagogies aimed at offering learners guidance and motivation toward active learning Additionally, it is significant for the education stakeholder to collaborate strongly in promoting online teaching and learning.
Moreover, in some areas, there has been a lack of attitudes among students toward online teaching and learning. Research shows that students’ strong attitudes towards learning are strong drivers of their academic achievements at regular times. Indeed, that might be crucial in sustaining learners’ motivation towards positive learning outcomes; However, with regard to the online learning approach, motivation has been down (Gorey, 2021). Many students, while at home, spend much of their time doing other things rather than concentrating on learning activities. Poor attitudes and lack of motivation for online learning are major factors contributing to negative learning among students. To ensure a positive attitude towards online learning, parents ought to take part in promoting effective skills development in a digital environment. Parental involvement in education is a precursor to the promotion of education.
Conclusively, the closure of schools and the adoption of online learning is an important opportunity to ensure continuity of learning among students during the pandemic With online teaching and learning, all the students, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds have an opportunity to continue with their education while in their remote areas In addition, the closure of schools adoption and implementation of a remote learning approach is a significant strategies to contain the spread of the virus among students and the vulnerable individuals With the remote learning approach, students can develop their learning skills, complete their learning and become important people in the community Besides, remote learning is a significant way of continuing with the development of digitalization and the online learning process When the students have effectively developed their digital learning skills, they will continue with their education in the future without any interruption, even if there is another pandemic.
Gorey, J. (2021) Teaching in a pandemic: How educators are handling the sudden shift to distance learning Earthwatch https://earthwatch.org/stories/teaching-pandemic-how-educators-are-handling-sudden-shift-distance-learning?gclid=Cj0KCQiAyracBhDoARIsACGFcS65z7mDgpH0j97ywh3OzXf4THWeP-H9xu2eGLGwhb_uYus_xj7G1QsaAgqLEALw_wcB
Goudeau, S., Sanrey, C., Stanczak, A., Manstead, A., & Darnon, C. (2021) Why Lockdown and Distance Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic Are Likely to Increase the Social Class Achievement Gap Nature Human Behaviour, 5(5), 1–9 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-021-01212-7
OECD (2020, September 24) Strengthening online learning when schools are closed: The role of families and teachers in supporting students during the COVID-19 crisis OECD https://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/strengthening-online-learning-when-schools-are-closed-the-role-of-families-and-teachers-in-supporting-students-during-the-covid-19-crisis-c4ecba6c/
The World Bank (2020) How countries are using edtech (including online learning, radio, television, texting) to support access to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic World Bank https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/edutech/brief/how-countries-are-using-edtech-to-support-remote-learning-during-the-covid-19-pandemic
UNICEF (2020, August 26) COVID-19: Are children able to continue learning during school closures UNICEF DATA https://data.unicef.org/resources/remote-learning-reachability-factsheet/