Teaching in COVID times

There are many impacts that this virus will leave on the ground. Among them, here in Italy is the impact that this massive social experiment in digitalization will have on schools and teaching.  We have been one month locked down in Milano, and most of Italy is now about to enter in the second week. Likewise it is estimated that around 2.5 billion people is staying home right now.

Clearly we were not prepared for this, but after the initial shock people started reacting, likewise our school teachers. Initially it was all about sending homework, videos to watch, parts of schoolbooks to complete, then teachers started to organize activities through online platforms like Weschool that in the past month has seen a huge spike in demand. Last week there were around one million people learning on the service per day.

weschool

Most interestingly parents were engaged in this, being home and having to help children in doing their tasks. An unusual experience but on the other hand great learnings seeing how teachers work with our kids and how much they actually to for their growth.

After a while it was clear that all of this was not sufficient, children were missing their schoolmates and their teachers, so many of them started to organize online live video classes. Kids there totally enthusiastic about it, excited and engaged. The first time it’s been a mess, everybody was talking at the same time and it was more of a social event than a learning experience. But right after it all started to go smoothly: teachers and kids learned how to manage communication, mute themselves and raise hands to talk and things got better and better. Online readings, question and answers, live lessons, interactive exercises. Hours were going fast, at the end of the first live lesson all children were disappointed and the main question in class was “Is it already finished?”, they clearly wanted more.

The teacher split the class in three in order have more quality time with each student and set times and groups to be online, now it has become a regular appointment and a great way to avoid isolation while keeping the children well engaged and checking status of their progress.

I think we are learning a lot in these times, and we’re all clearly seeing how some digital teaching tools can be much more powerful than traditional ones. For example math games are much more fun than books, provide instant gratification and engage much better providing a way to scale up learning capabilities by pushing children with gradually more challenging problems.

One side effect of this crisis is that we are running the most massive live experiment on digitalization in the planet and this is going to leave a lasting impact on society.

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