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Online anyone untouched by this at this point?

An isolated event in late 2019 has become so pervasivetwo years later that its consequences have reached us directly by entering our homes, daily (Maka Eradze). Online anyone untouched by this at this point?

Either you are a parent overseeing your child or you are a teacher delivering content online or you are a family member witnessing what your relatives are experiencing through online schooling.

Unified by the same problem

All around the world, we are experiencing the same phenomenon, at the same time. What better way to understand it than to talk about it! The online event Parental Engagement and the Role of EdTech held by the Tartu EdTech Community on May 10th, 2021 did just that! The four panelists brought their vast EdTech experience as educators about what occurred over these two years and married it with their observations as parents.

How did Education take the hit?

The fruitful discussion unearthed issues faced in Egypt, Estonia, Italy, Lithuania, Ukraine and Turkey among other countries. The discussion covered how education was (prior to) and how it is now (during the pandemic). For example, Estonian education moved from being focused solely on competency in academic content to including personal and social skills: “subjectivization and socialization” (Margus Pedaste) in education. EdTech allowed the integration of 21st century skill sets that were previously not as emphasized. On the other hand, there were other countries with schools that were not as technologically savvy (but had innovative pedagogical curricula) that faced a “transmission paradigm” (Maka Eradze) when online schooling became necessary. Being able to find the right EdTech tool to support their curriculum became a challenge that caused a temporary “regression”. Although the issues raised are being resolved, online schooling and its impact on students’ socialization is now a concern that needs to be addressed.

The Shadow Side of Traditional Education

Another facet of education that was discussed (but it existed before the pandemic), involves students who learn in ways that differ from traditional educational processes. In such cases, what does a parent do? Well, you can search for EdTech tools to help deliver the curriculum through homeschooling…although easy to say, it is not as easy to do. Another role of EdTech discussed was promoting the many ways to teach and learn. Therefore, in this “era of digitization and individualization of [the] educational process…some people learn at school, some people learn better at home. Everybody should find their ways and Educational Technology is the way to our specific ways to learn” (Varvara Suvorova).

The final role of EdTech discussed was its use in creating a tool to meet learners’ needs and as a bridge to connect learners with (oftentimes) linear, flat academic content in a fun, engaging and relevant way. To use “...what the students like/what they engage them with learning….it really increase[d] the level of engagement in my lesson” (Abiodun Stephen Ijeluola).

Moving from Education towards Learning: Using the true power of EdTech

In three of the testimonials given, EdTech was used innovatively to enhance teaching and learning, with the presence of a supportive environment “…not just technical…but also a positive cultural environment” (Margus Pedaste). However, the balanced discussion provided not only the advantages but disadvantages that can be associated with technology: “EdTech is not High Tech” (Anastasia Chuneva). Innovation occurs by using sound pedagogical practices, but when used effectively and meaningfully, EdTech will support innovation.

In the final analysis, it was determined that parental engagement and EdTech together with teachers/schools/governments is a necessary union required and should be explored to develop “ educational perspectives, fresh perceptions [and] alternative pedagogical sensibilities” (Emanuele Bardone). In so doing, learning (in its various forms) can be acknowledged, strived towards and continued innovation achieved.

You can listen to the complete event HERE

Primla Williamson-Munroe MA (EdTech), GDipEd, MSc, BSc, Dip (MT)

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