Post COVID-19: Where does education go from here?

COVID-19 has had an indelible impact on education management, policy and administration. As we looked into these topics further this week; we opened up an interesting dialogue about where we go post COVID-19. Do we go back to pre-pandemic times or have we learned a valuable yet costly lesson and look to build a new and better educational infrastructure? It is my sincerest hope that we build back with improvements. The pandemic has brought many concerns to the surface that need to be addressed.

Management improvement through Teacher Training Programs This phase has two separate considerations; new teachers and teachers who are already in the field. In addressing new teachers, there needs to be an emphasis on true distance education theory and methodologies. This can be achieved by adding a distance education component to each educational degree and to teacher certification programs. The other aspect is to equip teachers who are already in the field with robust training in distance education. This can be accomplished through a vigorous professional development program that leads to certification extension or micro-credentialing. Teachers are already required in many states to complete professional development credits to uphold their certification; by integrating distance education training into the program; not in addition to other development, veteran teachers will be able to more fully develop their skills, extend their certificate areas, and receive higher salaries or bonuses.

Policy improvement through Infrastructure There is a significant digital divide across most nations. We saw this inequity in the United States as school districts clamored to get laptops, Chromebooks, and WiFi to households so students could carry on with remote learning. Buses provided hot spots to areas where there is sporadic or no internet access. We must address this infrastructure issue if we are to expect to launch tech savvy students out into the world. This needs to take place on the National policy level.

Administration improvement through Pedagogy We have seen a move to personalized educational lessons for our students through the use of methods such as differentiation, personalization, active learning strategies, etc. The students of today are tech savvy and display more independence in learning. They often take on learning new skills or delving deeper into subjects they find interesting through blogs, YouTube videos, and social media platforms. If anything can come out of this crisis response with remote learning is that there needs to be collaboration of the parts of the schools, parents, and students. Schools need to build in more opportunities for independence and ownership of students' own educational goals. Teachers and parents need to have support in helping their students reach these goals. We often talk the "guide on the side" talk but now is the time to actually put this into our pedagogical practices. Teachers need to become facilitators, curators, and guides.

We stand before a unique opportunity for change. In most cases, for change to happen we must break down the "old" to make room for the "new." In this case, we have been forced to see what has worked and what has not worked. We do not need to throw away sound pedagogy or methodology. We need to move forward with a renewed vision and passion to transform our educational system to meet the needs of the globalized society we live in.

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