There are those who think, and defend, that the 21st century began in March 2020. If we analyze this assertion from the educational field, we can conclude that it is not going wrong. We lived (and we live) in the communications, information and technology society, with a multitude of resources at our service (telematics platforms, videoconferencing applications, multimedia resources, etc.) that were not being used in a generalized way until the pandemic arrived.
A terrible global health crisis, and a home confinement of several months, have forced educational institutions and, above all, the different agents of the educational community (teachers, students, families, etc.) to adapt to the era of technologies.
If we add to this the need to assimilate, since last year, endless school protocols full of indications about safety distances, bubble groups, access and exit times from the centers, limitations and prohibitions, sanitation, etc., we have to assume that post-pandemic education has brought many changes. Changes from which many lessons can be drawn, some of which should help us to improve everything that was not done correctly before the pandemic.
How has the educational community adapted?
If a classification were to be made on which educational agents have best adapted to the changes assumed in post-pandemic education, without a doubt, boys and girls would take first place. Although it sounds cliché, the minors have given us a lesson to teachers and families regarding the assimilation of norms derived from the pandemic.
Without complaints, assuming it as something intrinsic to the new school normality, and understanding that it is the best for their teaching-learning process, the little ones have endured hours with the mask, have adapted their games in the playground, have normalized hygiene of hands at all hours, they have done work online if required, etc. In short, they have continued their schooling with a certain normality.
The shock of teachers and families
However, both teachers and families suffered a strong shock, especially during the confinement stage. It was necessary to adapt from one day to the next a completely face-to-face teaching to a 100% teaching online, something that supposed great tensions.
In the case of teachers, confinement revealed different degrees of deficiencies in digital competence. Having to use ICT resources (Information and Communication Technologies), LMS platforms (English Learning Management System) or videoconferencing systems to teach classes, and change the traditional methodology for active methodologies, among other aspects, have revealed the lack of training of teachers in digital skills.
During the past course, they also had to stoically endure many hours with masks, be constantly aware of compliance with standards and protocols, attend specific anticovid training and assume the uncertainty of vaccination with AstraZeneca (which was stopped for several weeks by the health agencies). To which was added the tension experienced with respect to the positive cases that occurred in the centers. All this made teachers arrive more tired than in other years at the end of the course.
Multitasking taken to the extreme
For their part, families found themselves, during the first phase of the pandemic (home confinement), with the obligation to increase their workload, losing, in many cases, family support networks (grandparents, uncles, etc. ) with which they had and which were a magnificent support in many of these situations. This meant that parents, in addition to facing their daily chores, had to become private teachers, computer technicians, health experts, etc., also being forced to turn their homes into classrooms and offices.
Households, unaccustomed to spending so many hours together, faced mounting tensions. This last year, although the children have attended school, the families have also had to abide by protocols focused on the times and places of access to the center, safety distances at the doors, sanitation of materials and clothing, etc.
Despite recent tensions and difficulties, several issues have improved thanks to the pandemic. Improvements we should keep.
In the first place, the training of teachers has improved, which in a few months had to be updated to improve digital competence. We must continue to have as one of the main objectives that all teachers are up to date with respect to the use of ICT and active methodologies, and not wait for a new limit situation to arrive to do so.
Second, the optimization of time and resources. How many unnecessary meetings have been avoided due to not being able to be physically? Meetings and tutorials online with the families they have been very well received.
There must also be continuous hand hygiene, the organization of accesses and exits from the centers, the prohibitions for parents to access the centers without control, etc.
Post-pandemic education will undoubtedly be more personalized, technological and adapted to the 21st century.
Álvaro Pérez García, Associate Academic Coordinator of the Degree in Pedagogy. Faculty of Education UNIR, UNIR – International University of La Rioja
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original.