Monday, May 25, 2020

Monday Forum - what are the possible longer term changes from the covid-19 pandemic?

I have let the Monday Forums alone in part because my posting and hence my audience has been right down. Time to resume I think, if in a limited way. I miss the red-herrings!

Back in the 1970s I was quite addicted to the TV program, The Good Life. Now the ideas of sustainability, then so 60s and 70s, appears to back driven by covid-19.

Here I must admit to a continuing sense of pique. I cam back to Armidale intending to develop my veggie garden.

My arrival coincided with level 5 water restriction which prohibited even the use of even buckets or watering cans for use on gardens. While I accepted the need for water restrictions, I thought that the Council had gone over the top at least in in terms of the composition of the restrictions. Now eight months later with winter dawning, with four months of above average rainfall and more rain forecast, with the main dam above 50% with other water supplies in place, the restrictions are still in place. I look at my little veggie patch and think about just how much water I have imported via the vegetables bought and all the costs involved in transporting them. So much for self-sufficiency!

Leaving aside that personal gripe, there has been much media coverage about the changes in behaviour patterns brought about by covid-19, changes that are meant to be long term. I wonder. As a trainer, i used to comment that most training programs had limited effect because people went back into their organisations and normal life and then dropped the new things that they had learned where these conflicted with existing patterns.

Now as covid-19 restrictions begin to ease, I think that we can see the same pattern. Still, I may be wrong, so here is the topic for today's Monday Forum, What longer term changes do you expect to flow from covid-19?   


Thomas said...

Within my current bubble (teaching), the discussion has already started about what will stay part of 'regular practice' that we have 'gained' from the COVID-19 experience. I am certain that some teachers have developed new skills and acquired greater knowledge about technology to assist in the delivery of teaching and learning programs (I hesitate to say 'improve the delivery') and that, as a consequence, some (many?) will integrate ICT with more frequency into their teaching. Some of these tools will simply facilitate better and / or more immediate communication and act as a way of archiving, preserving and organising learning material.

As an example, the Department of Education in NSW has had - for a long time - licensing agreements with Google. All NSW public school teachers have had access to a raft of online tools which has been sporadically implemented (the should read: implemented by teachers 10 years or less into their careers, for the most part). The main 'hinge' that keeps all of these tools together is Google Classroom - a kind of digital platform similar to Facebook in nature whereby there's a class 'stream' where a teacher could post announcements, work, material, etc. This integrates fluidly with other Google Tools (like Docs, Sheets, Forms, etc.), but the necessity for paper-based records and the primacy of face-to-face delivery probably saw Google Classrooms and other associated tools as being 'in addition' to the day-to-day practice of teaching (aside from school that are Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and / or cater to wealthy clientele).

With the COVID-19 lockdown, there was (within my school) a necessity to up-skill and implement these types of online delivery platforms and all teachers gained varying degrees of awareness of more effective ways to approaching delivering quality teaching and learning through all of this.

However, the education system is not very welcoming of quick, rapid and (this is key) untested changes. I mean, we know that later start times would benefit a raft of learning and welfare outcomes for students, and yet we still drag kids in at 8:45am. We know that the HSC is a pretty blunt instrument in assessing student outcomes, but the vested interests seem to feed the addiction to it (and summative assessment at-large). The only changes we see in this system are incremental and slow, and require a lot of evidence and data to back it up (and even then ...). So while the education system changed overnight for two months or thereabouts, I think that the only longer term changes from the pandemic I'll see are in the individual choices and actions from teachers and not system-wide or structural changes.

Jim Belshaw said...

That's very interesting, Thomas, and feels intuitively right. I hadn't known about Google Classroom, but from my experience in a corporate environment where somewhat similar tools were available there was resistance to use because they could be clunky and required IT support to make them work. Covid-19 has forced changes at the margin, but in so doing has actually overcome barriers to implementation.

Schooling is a little different because of differences in learning styles. When TAS was in lock down one boarding student came back because he could not learn properly remotely. As I understand it, teaching was still done remotely, but he participated from Armidale where he had access to back-up resources. At UNE which was already geared to external delivery, internal students who had gone home used remote delivery but really missed the social interaction with peers.

One issue that emerged in the state system in particular was the digital divide. Some kids struggled because they did not have effective internet access either because it was not available or for equipment reasons. I suspect that we will see action here.

Another issue is the reactions of two income parents suddenly faced with home schooling. Some may continue that, more will want normality. Teachers have long complained about the school role as babysitters (this first came up in at least the 1970s) for working parents. I think that this episode has highlighted that school role. We cannot maintain workforce participation rates without the schools.

None of this detracts from your points.

Anonymous said...

I see Blogger has announced some enhancements to their platform which are optional until end of June, but then will become fixed/mandatory.

The explainer blurb notifying this contains the following sentence:

The legacy interface will still be optionally available.

- and I thought to myself, what a perfect metaphor for the world in which we now live.


Nithya said...

I feel that our lifestyle is going for evolution along with our mind and body. Our professors at one of the Top IAS coaching centres in Chennai have evolved a new learning technique where we are the owners of our education. Learning had always been seen as an external process where one had to be "taught", but covid has changed everything.