COVID-19 and School Closures, Will Online Learning be an Effective Solution?
As the fourth school in Australia closes due to the potential coronavirus spread, it’s been revealed that online course delivery and virtual classrooms are a key part of the government’s contingency plan for educators, if the virus continues to escalate.
Although Australian schools aren’t fully impacted yet, countries around the world are closing their schools as a precautionary measure to avoid the further spread of coronavirus. In preparation for possible school closures, the Australian government is looking at potential online learning solutions to ensure students can still access their education from their own homes.
But exactly how effective will online learning be for students in terms of motivation, access to good technology and access to wireless networks? Teachers will also need access to extra resources and training to aid in the proper delivery of online lessons.
“If we are looking at longer-term school closures, then the delivery of a teacher’s entire curriculum for students online will require the department to provide additional resources in terms of the IT [Information Technology], but also in terms of professional learning. That is something that could not be rolled out across the state overnight.”
– Senior vice president of the NSW Department of Education, Amber Flohm
Certain communities and students will also be disadvantaged over others in terms of accessibility to technology and internet speed.
There will also be some challenges for primary educators with online learning. Primary education is more difficult to be taught without the attention of a teacher who can ensure students that are less capable are understanding the curriculum.
Australian Primary Principals Association president Malcolm Elliott said, “We’ve got questions with monitoring student leaning … We’re dealing with children across a broad spectrum of ability.”
Although there are some great online learning tools available, student development may be deeply impacted, as students not under the care of a specialist teacher who can monitor their development.
To combat these issues, there are a number of measures the education department is planning to put in place:
The Department of Education believes that they are ‘well prepared for what may develop’, but they are unable to predict how badly the crisis may impact schools and students’ performance.
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