EDUCATION AND LEARNING POST-PANDEMIC COVID-19

While education can be considered a sector in a process of constant evolution, the unprecedented and somewhat jarring closures of schools around the world, as a result of the new coronavirus, officially known as Covid-19, has caused a severe and sudden disruption in the current education model. The pandemic triggered immediate need of new teaching and learning methods for teachers and students around the world. In Qatar University, faculty altered their existing curricula and transitioned to virtual learning, which for specific fields, such as medicine where hands-on learning is essential, proved to be a challenge.

This is a confusing time for everyone globally, and while the negative impacts are clear, this time can also be seen as an opportunity, as it has forced educators and education leaders to reconfigure the educational system in the short-term and potentially long-term as well.

Reevaluating

Covid-19 has forced the education sector to conduct global experiments in education to achieve distance learning. There are many indications that this global crisis will change many aspects of life, and education can be one of those changes if distance learning proves itself effective. The question is – how do we understand if distance learning is indeed successful or not? As part of this crisis-driven experiment, collecting data and placing a focus on quality higher education and access is essential.

The education sector has turned to institutions and researchers to offer insight into how we may navigate this period. Their expertise will also be essential for policy-making, addressing social and economic issues and leading intellectual discourse. In April, the university conducted a virtual conference on the challenges and perspectives of Covid-19 with a group of speakers from Qatar University and beyond.

Technology

Qatar University was quick to facilitate the use of the latest technologies and harness virtual platforms for its faculty and students in line with Qatar’s efforts to keep the education and learning process effective and on track. These efforts also come as part of the university’s keenness to provide a highly qualified level of education and because Qatar University understands the challenges of adapting to distance learning through digital means and the environment of learning that this creates. Qatar University was also quick to equip faculty, staff and students with a unique hotline number for remote technical support and requests.

Accessibility and reach

As part of Qatar University’s concern to continue providing education for the term for all students to achieve necessary learning outcomes, the university enabled graduate students in their final year to conduct their thesis discussions. In addition, the university also allowed for officials and staff to continue their meetings remotely in all colleges and departments, so that university life would continue as normal but through virtual platforms.

Communication and Response

In the present situation, because continuing distance learning is necessary, Qatar University provides students with essential direct access to their faculty and online resources. The university’s website offers a number of applications, which eases the process of distance learning for students. The university also offered its employees with high-tech computers to insure that they are able to work from home with no complications, making it possible to achieve university requirements for students and faculty alike.

Future Implications

Although it is too early to understand and judge the effects of this health crisis on the education system in Qatar and around the world, there is reason to believe that the pandemic will have changed the course of education and its transition into the digital world positively, showing us that quality education isn’t distinguished by classrooms or lecture halls. Alternatively, it may have accelerated inevitable and necessary change. This generation and generations to come have proved they have an advanced handle on technology and are more willing to work collaboratively than their predecessors are. Covid-19 has widened the scope of how we can educate and show us that flexibility is key in educating future generations.

Covid-19 was also a test of the emergency preparedness plans in place for education systems across the globe. Through data collection and analysis, it is our collective responsibility to reassess existing contingency plans to lower risk in the future.

 

Source: Qatar University