Education system against the challenges of Pandemics

The conference “More than learning: Challenges of a new normality”, where experts discussed the organization of the remote learning process. In the new long read, Andrew Bates, head of the Center for the Development of Educational Technologies, will describe the main barriers that arise in the process of distance learning. When studying remotely, many students faced numerous troubles with academic writing, so they may want to pay for research paper online.

The coronavirus pandemic created serious challenges that educational institutions needed to respond to promptly to continue the process of effective education. In 2018, BMC Medical Education specialists published a study on common barriers that arise in the process of distance learning. The study was conducted in the period from 2006 to 2016 based on a full-text analysis of scientific articles. As a result, the following key barriers to distance learning were identified:

  • Distrust of the remote format on the part of all participants in the process;
  • Weak technical and digital competencies, imperfect IT infrastructure;
  • Lack of time for training;
  • Problems of organizing practical work in a remote format;
  • Lack of communication and feedback from teachers.

There are solutions for each of these barriers. Today we will share real examples – cases of College programs, as well as the experience of experts from the College and corporate education on the first 2 barriers.

Barrier No. 1. Distrust of the remote format

I note that distrust can come from both teachers and students. Teachers may feel incompetent when working in a digital environment with unusual tools. 88% of teachers were skeptical about the distance learning format and believe that it is better to conduct classes in a standard attendance format. Among the specific methodological difficulties, teachers who worked in synchronous mode noted difficulties in maintaining attention and involving students in the educational process. Thus, 65% of teachers believe that conducting lectures in a remote format rather does not allow to control the involvement of students in the educational process. More than 70% are afraid of an increase in practices of dishonest behavior among students during exams, which are more difficult to control remotely. In addition, teachers are skeptical about the effectiveness of online learning.

Only 15% of teachers believe that the quality of education with the use of educational technologies online is effective. However, almost 60% doubt the quality of online learning and do not plan to continue its active use in the future. A negative response from students is also possible, both due to beliefs in the low effectiveness of the distance learning format and due to a lack of interaction with teachers or classmates.

During the implementation of the six-week remote program “Mindfulness: Development of Mindfulness practices”, experts also noted that additional efforts are needed to create trust within the group and remove communication barriers. What should be done in such a situation?

  • Establish and systematically maintain close contact with students and between students;
  • To build communication with students through the question “Why?” through learning, thereby stimulating reflection;
  • To help students set specific goals for development;
  • Show possible trajectories of skill development;
  • Create an environment for development and support with the help of group chats;
  • Test your solutions, be open to new approaches, and not be afraid to make mistakes.

Barrier No. 2. Weak technical and digital competencies, imperfect IT infrastructure

In distance learning, it is critically important how well teachers and students know digital tools. The speed and quality of the teacher’s work, the level of satisfaction of participants in the educational process, and the motivation of students depend on the skills of working in a digital environment.

But it is worth noting that before starting to work remotely, most higher education institutions did not have the infrastructure to deploy full-fledged distance learning, and every tenth College did not even have the minimal infrastructure (there was no high-speed Internet access, there were no specialized data storage systems for hosting information systems). Only 11% of universities had a digital infrastructure sufficient for the full organization of online education and the placement of content in their capacities. Almost half of the teachers (47%) reported that they needed help.

More than a quarter (26%) said that they lack the skills and knowledge to switch to online mode and effectively conduct distance learning. Also, this problem is closely related to the availability of IT support and the level of technical equipment. It is important to resolve the following issues in advance:

Are there any staff to whom you can contact in case of technical problems (for example, problems with the Internet connection), or will they have to be solved independently?

Do all participants in the process have unhindered access to training materials (for example, are there no restrictions at the provider or company level)?

Have detailed instructions for working with the tools used been prepared?

Have there been developed programs for the development of digital tools and digital content necessary for the organization of effective training using innovative formats?

Teachers can send students the necessary short step-by-step instructions on how to interact with electronic means: how to connect to the webinar, how to register for the training program, how to fill out a feedback form, etc.

IT support specialists may be employed in this difficult situation. They can work at the College, and conduct group and individual consultations with everyone on the implementation of best practices in the learning process.

In addition, it is worth noting that since January 2020, with the participation of the Center for Academic Partnerships, the Academy of Technology and Data, the Far Eastern Bank, the School of Economics and Management have implemented a project to teach students digital skills.

To do this, 600 graduate students in the fields of economics, management, trade, business informatics received access to the distance learning programs “Modern Digital Technologies”, “Python for Data Analysis”, “Big Data“, and “SQL Basics” on the educational platform of the College “Virtual School”.

This opportunity allowed teachers to improve the quality and relevance of educational content through the introduction of approaches and technologies used at the College in the disciplines of higher education institutions. As a result, due to the close interaction of the educational institution with the business, a stable training model is being formed that allows training specialists in demand on the labor market.

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