The recent sudden and far-reaching shift to online teaching came out of the blue, but was carried out in a rather smooth way. We are somewhat blessed with technology in this matter – even 10 years ago that shift would be unthinkable without modern infrastructure. The whole system would have staggered and then frost. Millions of people in schools and universities, teachers, and students would have had to go on sabbatical, suspend their studies and postpone graduation – all because of the lack of technology. All that would have had an awfully detrimental effect on the world a decade ago, but now it’s different.
While more and more experts now foretell us the future where the distance rules the day. 1.5 meter / 6 feet rules would span groceries and shops, hair salons, and restaurants, not to mention offices and schools. Whereas some firms quickly adjusted themselves to the new reality, their methods of functioning can’t be applied across the board. Especially when it comes to education. We can see that the first steps of lifting quarantine measures in many countries have been the reopening of schools.
Video conferencing is undoubtedly a boon for mass(-scale) education now. While the question of whether it is sustainable in the long run is still open, we can ruminate on how it changes century-old practices of teaching.
It’s worth noting though, that there’s nothing wrong with online teaching per se. Quite the opposite, it is a wonderful thing. It not only rescues us in dire times, but it is also quite helpful in the normal run of things. It bestows people with great flexibility and connects to the sources of knowledge those who don’t have access to traditional education. But as it is still something novel, there are certain challenges posed by the virtual nature of online teaching.