Journalist John Tolley of BTN.com interviewed Liz Kolb about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on education. With sudden closures and shifts to online learning, some students have been affected by a lack of digital access in their homes, while educators face planning and teaching lessons in new ways.
Dr. Kolb explained that the pandemic has shed light on the digital divide, brought forth concerns about student mental health, and led parents to wonder how to best facilitate their children’s learning from home.
This situation is rather unusual for teachers, said Kolb, because it wasn’t something that most public schools or collegiate education programs have trained teachers for. “Very little professional development for in-service or preservice teaching has focused on how to design instruction for remote learning,” she explained.
When asked about flaws in the educational system exposed by the pandemic, she said that social isolation has brought awareness to the digital divide issues that already existed in schooling. She posited that time away from the traditional classroom could also increase the “summer slide,” meaning that students could begin the next school year with academic deficits.
Fortunately, she said, students will be able to see teachers as positive role models by showing students that they are “flexible, creative, and developing new ways to teach old things.”
Kolb suggested that the future of education remains bright, and the opportunities for teacher professional development in areas of technology are vast. “It is an opportunity to rethink how we teach and the tools we choose to teach with,” she said, adding that parents should feel comfortable keeping it “light and fun” for now. “Encourage reading, trying new things, getting outside, watching educational shows, and yes, extra fun screen time is perfectly fine, too. If they miss their teachers or friends, they can email, call, text, or even video conference with them,” she said.