There have been opinions in the media that the corona crisis is a backlash to globalization and digitalization. Could that be true?
When I read news about the amazing profits of Amazon, Apple, Alphabet/Google, Facebook and Microsoft, the biggest global enterprises, I have my doubts. They have increased their sphere of influence around the world. More business, more people involved.
What if it’s quite on the contrary? Globalization and digitalization are making fast progress, not regress. Companies around the globe have adopted real-time online sessions on a large scale. The amounts of users of online platforms have grown rapidly.
One of the main effects of the prolonged corona crisis is that digital means are being called for help in education too. During the highest waves of COVID 19 distance education has been brought into use in schools of many countries.
Opposite to what some may say digitalization has jumped onto a higher level – even in education.
This was true in my home country Finland where schools made a digital leap last spring. Because of corona virus there were only two choices: distance education or no education at all. Teachers chose the previous alternative. Appreciated!
Teaching, studying and learning are processes of highly social nature. How is it possible to bring such processes into effect over distances virtually?
Compared to teaching on premise, real-time online education has more challenges. In many cases it’s not what teachers were educated to do. The lack of knowledge and skills can be a threshold. But thresholds can be abolished.
CREATING AN AUTHENTIC LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
One has to accept the fact that online teaching is a multitasking approach. In addition to questions of content and methods there are technological issues: connection, platform, extra tools with many details.
Beside that, the social aspect of process demands that every individual should be noticed and kept involved. For that virtual facilitation is needed. Therefore, those who coach real-time sessions online are also called facilitators.
Especially at the beginning of the development digitalization of education was understood as migration, a kind of superficial change of technology whereas substance and methods of teaching stayed as they had been.
Overhead projectors, products of analog technology, were replaced by digital document cameras. A lecture given to the audience in the classroom was transmitted to the students over the Internet. Technology is different, but what do you think is the change? That was not the true essence of digital education.
Unlearn to allow learning
These days swans gather together here in the north and fly over forests and villages. Soon they will fly to the south. Swans are migrating birds. When they come back next spring, migration has not changed their behavior. They do the same things as always before, just the same way.
Quite a different change happens in the metamorphosis of a butterfly. It’s an amazing transformation from a caterpillar to a butterfly. It’s also a good metaphor to describe transformation which happens in education when digitalization comes true.
It’s not only pandemic but also the challenging situation of the planet which requires distance education. For me it means project-based learning across the borders. How could we fight climate change if the whole global audience could not be spoken to? Teachers and all influencers have a crucial role in that battle.
More and more schools have introduced distance education in their school practices. Will everything return back to the old on-site practices after the crisis is over? I am optimistic enough to predict that a lot of distance education will stay. It will transform education and the world.