Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The World Is Not Ending... (How Fast a Month Can Change Everything)

Last month I wrote about how great 2020 was so far. Fast forward a month into the future and the world is going crazy. A fast spreading virus is scaring everyone into reacting. Large events around the world are being postponed or canceled. Education Exchange (E2) which I was suppose to attend in Australia was postponed. Then SXSW canceled this year's event. Even Harvard is moving all classes online and students were given less than a week to vacate the campus.

Schools across the globe are currently working on contingency plans if they need to close the buildings. Four local districts closed for a week after a local pediatric doctor tested positive meaning he may have infected his patients (yikes).

As someone that works in the educational technology industry, you may think that I've been waiting for this type of moment, but far from it. Cyber/distance learning has its place, but it's not a replacement for the physical classroom. I think the social aspect of education is just as, if not more important, than the content itself. Teaching students to collaborate and work together can have some of the greatest results in a classroom.

I am working with schools to train their staff on remote learning options, but the pedagogy cannot be taught or learned overnight. Teachers at cyber schools have spent a lot of time training for their specialty and working remotely with students. Additionally, this crisis is further illustrating the inequality of education. Not all students have access to devices and internet at home. So how are schools going to reach these students?

Leonard Nimoy as Spock giving the Vulcan greeting.
Image Source: Buzzfeed
I am not a doctor and I'm not going to pretend to know how truly widespread this virus is or how long it will take for our medical experts to contain it. It's better to overreact than under-react but I hope that we are all overreacting and things will get back to normal soon.

At least us geeks around the world are finally "cool" because we're giving the Vulcan greeting instead of shaking hands.