Jun. 18, 2021

Education in a Pandemic

As Covid 19 continues to have a grip on much of the world, formal classroom education is never certain. Here in Cyprus, we have seen schools closed, reopened, individual classes and teachers sent home and now, with summer holidays upon us, many young people ruefully think back on a year's serious disruption to their individual learning journeys.

It is at times like these that online learning becomes more than an additional teaching resource. For many school children, and indeed all learners, the only way they have been able to continue studying is by working online from home. A few weeks ago, I took the decision to stop using the Moodle platform to host my own online courses. Although it has perfectly adequate technology for video conferencing with groups of people, I have consistenly found that learners on my courses feel they are much better looked after on a one-to-one basis. Consquently, we have shifted our delivery to shared folders on Google Drive or something similar, and I have been using Zoom for personal interaction on a regular and frequent basis. People have never felt the need to feel personally looked after more.

I have also arranged a moratorium on assessed teaching practice while actual classroom attendance is doubtful. Our main awarding body, CPD, has been very understanding about the needs of students at this time and certification is not an issue. When classes do finally return to normal (whatever normal will mean in a post-Covid world) then we can revisit the subject and return to assessed teaching practice by observing videorecorded lessons.

I am also conscious of the financial effect the pandemic is having on everyone. Anyone taking one of my courses via the main platforms of Udemy, Uplyrn and Course Central, can apply for a free e-certificate if they successfully complete a programme. Moreover, anyone who has taken the Udemy teacher training course and wants to complete the full, UK-certified programme, can now do so for a total fee of 300 UK pounds, instead of the usual 450.00.

I can't end without a minor gripe about the misuse of language by the mainstream media. If a disease spreads throughout a community, or even a whole country, we call it an epidemic. If that same disease spreads throughout the world, it becomes a pandemic. Why then, must the BBC, CNN, Sky News and anyone else continue to refer to Covid 19 as a "global pandemic?" The fact that it is global makes it a pandemic by default. Sloppy thinking and poor use of the English language will always get reported and critcised here. Maintenance of rigorous standards is not the same as pedantry.

Keep safe everyone, wherever you are.