The digital world or how the coronavirus encouraged us to enter into the space of digital education.
Last week exposed us to a real test of our values, philosophy on life and creativity. The introduction of a state of emergency in the country challenged many people to take a stand for or against the measures. Miles on end of “expert” opinions and advices were being written. The free regurgitation of speech is more prominent than ever, for social media allow us to express our opinions and our competencies (regardless of whether we have them or not).
One measure is especially interesting among all the measures undertaken by the government: the fast transition to online education
I am extraordinarily impressed by the teachers who showed hard work and had to self-teach and start working in a few format in just two days. All of this comes along with many new rules, including the self-control and self-reporting to the department of MON). It is not just a question of preparing the content and materials in a manner adequate to the conditions of online classrooms. Presentation skills are also important because they are different from those used in face-to-face work. It is also important to develop a method for working with so many people and keeping their attention. The latter is difficult enough in face-to-face teaching, which speaks to how much more difficult it is to keep one’s attention in an online environment when each person has at least 55 more interesting distractions in their house amidst their favourite objects.
Props to those people who have been nearly forced into virtual rooms and did not resign because this is not part of their professional obligations and nobody has required such skills when hiring them. Hats off to them because we have been speaking about reform in the education system for ages. We’ve been abusing this theme for ears now. We’ve been trying for years to speak on how to use modern digital tools, which are used by children non-stop anyways. And here we go now: in just one week we are about to enter into this new era of education- digital education.
Of course a big part of the results of this experiment are going to emerge through trial and error. Of course we are just starting to look for good and effective practices. A lot of teachers will enjoy them. Others won’t. We have yet to see how students will like them. At the moment the most important thing is that these people are trying to rewire themselves and to be useful, for now more than ever we are realizing how important educated and knowledgeable people are for our common humanity. We are realizing how much we want to have someone who can immediately the vaccine for each new illness, and who knows how to protect us or help us if we are infected.
Applause from the crowd to the medical workers involved in the fight against the virus was heard from the terraces of the apartment buildings in Italy. In Bulgaria we saw the same thing a few days later. I believe that we should also applaud teachers who have shown us that indeed learning never ends and includes each one of us. I strongly believe that young people who are now experiencing this transition will one day be able to see the massive leap that we are taking at the moment. And I really hope this will change education.
These days I saw another occurrence in another part of the world, Tanzania (Central Africa) – namely, how young people are trying to negotiate changes related to their education. The news came from a friend of mine in Tanzania who works locally to digitalize schools in the area through her small organization. Perhaps you do not know this, but in Africa each megabyte one uses is to be paid. There it is a luxury to use the resources that we receive with just a click of the button. I am happy to see Cathy (Catherina Kimambo) pursue her calling. I spent 6 months with her in Bulgaria thanks to the “Erasmus+” program. Believe me when I say those were not easy days. She is intelligent, stubborn, with great potential, but it is hard to crack open her walls. Today I see her courage in attempting to create her own organization and in developing her ideas, but also her fight for the state-wide implementation of good models who have proven potential in helping people grow and develop. Cathy is one of those people who really shows genuine interest in things. She studies them in detail. She is not afraid anymore of inquiring if something is unclear. And she shows courage in trying to help young people in her country learn and grow. The program which she started in Tanzania aims to spread knowledge about the history and heritage of Africans, about their contribution to the development and progress of humanity. It aims to incite interest and motivation for education, but also to create conditions which will help this process. For a population, which lives in extreme poverty, internet access can be a serious resource and help in combating poverty by educating people.
The digital world is just one step away from us here in Bulgaria. In other places it is a question of a lot of money. Today’s situation with the corona virus is putting us in a position of needing to act creatively and looking for innovative solutions. Creativity is one of the most interesting human characteristics. In an emergency situation we showed that we have it.