During an ordinary life, it often feels like we’re living the same day over and over due to the structured routines we’ve all implemented over time. But when we least expect it, a paradigm shift can take place, and life as we know it can suddenly change forever.
A paradigm shift is anytime an event occurs that changes the way we think and act as we move forward throughout our lives.
Past examples of paradigm shifts include major events like the assassination of JFK or the terrorist attacks on September 11th which drastically altered people’s thoughts on safety, politics, and peace.
And now the COVID-19 pandemic has become the latest paradigm shift that has affected every aspect of our lives, including how we all see education.
Before the pandemic hit, we took many things in our lives for granted. We assumed we could leave our houses each day, we assumed we could go to work, and we assumed our children could go to school. We made these assumptions because these actions had become rote for us, and we had no reason to question whether or not they would continue.
And although enrollment in virtual education had been growing steadily year after year, for many of us, it wasn’t a daily part of our routines until the pandemic hit. But once it did, the pandemic itself became the paradigm shift that changed how all of us would start to see the role of education for teachers, parents, and students.
There are several benefits of virtual education that we now know as a result of this pandemic:
- It can be very effective with the right virtual classroom software and the right training for teachers
- It can increase student engagement through multimedia presentations, hands-on activities, and small group projects and assignments
- It can provide important learning analytics data to teachers in real-time
- It eliminates the risk of getting exposed to viruses, bullying, and school violence
- It saves a ton of money that no longer has to be spent on building maintenance
- It can be done from home without the need for transportation
So while many school districts are pushing for a return to the classroom this fall, teachers, parents, and students are asking themselves whether things really should go back to normal or whether we should use this information to create a new normal.
If one were to return to the classroom this year, he or she may face continued social distancing, stringent sanitation practices, mask-wearing, and vaccination requirements to ensure the safety and well being of everyone.
Utilizing virtual classrooms is an alternative to going back to brick and mortar. If schools choose to move to virtual, ensuring that teachers are trained on the virtual classroom software and how to teach virtually makes a significant difference in the success of the educational experience for everyone. Using the right virtual classroom software also plays a huge role in the success of virtual learning. Products that were built for corporate meetings such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom do not meet the unique needs of students and teachers because the level of engagement and learning analytics are limited. Live virtual classes are effective and includes the critical social learning aspect that students need for brain development.
It’s certainly not an easy decision to make for anyone involved. But what is certain in a post-pandemic world is that we’ve now realized that we have far more options when it comes to education than ever, and we need to explore all learning opportunities that will benefit all students. This includes traditional schools offering a virtual learning program with dedicated teachers so students who will excel better in a virtual environment have the option, and parents can make decisions on their children’s education based on the health and safety needs of their kids.