Asynchronous education and preparing for future
THE EDITOR, Madam:
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has, among other things, highlighted the disparities in access to Internet and Web-based education. This is particularly concerning since COVID-19 has led to a significant shift to online teaching and learning. As teachers across the Caribbean, especially in high schools, sought the tools to mirror the synchronous (face-to-face) mode of education, challenges faced by students, especially from marginalised families and their inability to access Internet facilities, cannot be overlooked.
The realities on the ground range from:
1. A number of students being unable to access synchronous (real-time) classes via online platforms; and there is a number of these students who have Internet issues, have access from time to time, but at no set schedule;
2. Problems with some students sharing devices with their parents and which creates challenges for both to use the device at the same time;
3. One device being shared among siblings, the challenge being who takes priority to use the device.
These observations are corroborated by my colleagues and are clear indications that a paradigm shift in education is critical. While synchronous Web-based technologies are preferred and used, there needs to be thoughtful integration of asynchronous tools in the planning of lessons going forward, where online teaching and learning tools require no real-time interaction. Teachers could introduce learning-management systems to upload course content, such as presentations and videos, as well as the integration of online quizzes and discussion forums. These would be done in collaboration with the face-to-face and online methods to ensure that most students can benefit.
The planned and thoughtful introduction of asynchronous Web-based tools also present immense possibilities for the development of course content by teachers across the Caribbean, which will be beneficial for the students.
No child should be left behind, and every child must get educated.
Teacher and adjunct lecturer
of information technology