29 May 2020

IFTE experts answered, what should education be like in a pandemic

A film was made specifically for the forum about how education should develop in the current situation of switching to a distance learning format.

Education systems around the world have taken steps to reduce the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) on education. An interactive mapping “Global monitoring of school closure in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic” is presented on the UNESCO website, which displays the development of the situation of closure of educational institutions in various countries, from February 8 to April 20, 2020. As of April 20, 2020, their number was 1,575,270,054, which is 91.3% of the total number of students worldwide. Currently, educational institutions are officially open only in 4 countries: Belarus, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Nicaragua.

Alternative educational solutions have become a top priority for ministries of education in all countries. At the same time, quarantine closure of schools leads to widening inequalities in education and causes disproportionate damage to children and youth from the most vulnerable groups.

When it became clear that the situation in the world violated the format of the usual scientific communications, and all communication went online, the director of the Institute of Psychology and Education, one of the organizers of the IFTE International Pedagogical Forum Forum, Aydar Kalimullin invited the forum participants to reflect on the main problems teachers, pupils and parents faced in their country in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and what lessons the teacher training system should learn from the situation created.

The topic of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on education has become one of the most discussed worldwide in recent months. Each country during this time has accumulated both its own problems and the solution of problems. 20 international experts in the field of teacher training and digitalization responded to our request. Each of the experts shares their experience in creating distance learning in their countries.

Student television channel Univer TV edited the videos in two videos on the changes in teacher training during and after the pandemic: in Russian and English.

Foreign experts of the forum spoke about training during the pandemic: Conor Galvin (Ireland), Ian Menter (Great Britain), Zdenka Gadushova (Slovakia), Margery McMahon (Scotland), Cheryl Craig (USA), Andreja Istenic Starcic (Slovenia), Loredana Perla ( Italy), Marta Kowalczuk-Walędziak (Poland), Julia Koinova-Tselner (Germany), Boncho Gospodinov (Bulgaria), Ulanbek Mambetakunov (Kyrgyzstan), Daria Hanolainen (Finland).

The speaker from Italy said that considerable difficulties arise due to low-quality Internet. Communication jumps regularly, increasing the already huge distance between the teacher and the student. In addition, in Italy, not all families have personal computers at home.

Most American parents, according to an expert from El Paso University, are confident that distance learning will adversely affect the quality of their children’s education. Professor Murat Choshanov (USA) shared his observations.

 – At universities, teachers were given the opportunity to switch to the grading system of assessment: satisfactory and unsatisfactory, and the schools abandoned traditional testing, explaining that the quality of the conditions created does not correspond to the required assessment format. In my opinion, the emphasis is shifting from the informational and organizational function in the work of the teacher to the structural design. Considering that US schools are skeptical of homework, now both teachers and schoolchildren have difficulty transitioning to a distance format, as children are not ready to study on their own. The lessons we learn from this situation allow us to say that we need to prepare the future teacher so that he can design an effective educational environment.

Maria Zhigalova, a professor at Brest State Technical University, believes that the situation with coronoviruses has helped teachers supplement the learning process with new forms of work, rather than replace full-time education with distance education.

Ludmila Bejenaru (Romania), a professor at Saya University, noted that, despite all efforts, during the transition to distance learning due to the pandemic, it became obvious that many schools were not even ready for a partial transition to online.

Miroslav Prochazka (Czech Republic) from the University of South Bohemia emphasized that the quarantine declared in the world in connection with the coronovirus pandemic forced the country’s educational system to switch to distance learning.

The Russian Federation is experiencing the same difficulties and problems in education due to the coronavirus pandemic as other countries. This requires responsible and correct decisions from all state structures, said Timirkhan Alishev, Vice-Rector for External Relations of KFU.

The Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation recommended that the regional authorities organize the work of educational institutions in such a way that children and teachers conduct the educational process at home using distance learning technologies. As a result, the Russian education system was “on the front line” with a large number of people: about one and a half school teachers and university professors, as well as 16 million schoolchildren and 7 million students. It was not easy to quickly build a training system and implement a curriculum in a remote format, which was felt by all participants in the system, including parents of schoolchildren.

All the speakers agreed that the countries that made the decision to switch to distance learning face many difficulties, starting with providing materials and support to teachers, and ending with providing recommendations for families in resolving communication problems. But at the same time, new opportunities arise – the main thing is to use an integrated approach to solving the problem of education during quarantine measures.