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How the Pandemic Has Changed Education Around the World

The global pandemic has undoubtedly drastically affected education.

Whether you’re a university student in your final years, an educator in secondary schools, or a parent of pre-schoolers, disruptions have upended almost every aspect of school life.

The Dramatic Shifts in Education

Physical distancing and mandated quarantine measures have pushed up internet use. Connecting remotely has been and will continue to be an important part of all our lives. But have such changes found their way into education as well? According to UNESCO, over 800 million learners are still affected by partial or full school closures. From interrupted learning and social isolation to challenges in assessments and a rise in dropout rates, the adverse consequences of school closures are plain for all to see. Add to that the two-thirds of an academic school year lost on average globally, and building a more resilient education system becomes a must. This is where innovation and digitisation come in.

As more teaching is done remotely and e-learning finds its place, it seems changes are here to stay. Some of these include:

1. Shift Towards Online Learning

The forced transition to online learning has become inevitable. Although not a permanent change, schools have had to shift courses and classes online so that students can complete their education as planned. This means that teachers and lecturers have to change their approach to how they do things. From familiarising themselves with different media and tools, to experimenting with innovative methods for engagement, educators no longer have the benefit of always being physically present to manage the classroom.

2. Increased Parental Involvement

The increased need for parents to supervise their children has been a massive learning experience. Beyond parents expressing their struggles of juggling work and helping their children with school work, other forms of parental involvement have been necessary. For one, parents in Singapore were asked to submit feedback online amidst rising concerns about infections in schools. Understanding the pressures parents face, MOE has also launched a parent-focused Instagram account called parentingwith.moesg to better connect and engage with parents. By providing tips and resources, the platform has created a supportive community where parents can share experiences and celebrate small wins.

3. Increased Education-focused Partnerships

There’s been a huge increase in partnerships specifically related to education changes. Coalitions between governments and online learning platforms, publishers and tech providers and many other businesses have come together.

Education Changes in Singapore

In Singapore, there have most certainly been a number of revisions in how we learn:

1. Home-based Learning (HBL)

In Singapore, the blended learning approach in primary education involving online learning is something educators have recently employed. Compared to Home-based Learning (HBL) when students are completely off-campus for extended periods and only learning through online mediums, the blended approach is now the norm, with a split between HBL and in-school activities.

However, this has also posed some challenges. For example, students are often given a refresher of online classes when they return to the classroom. With lessons continuing as per usual, students will have to keep on task with newer topics even if they are unsure of previously taught chapters. But blended learning isn’t all that bad given the flexibility students are offered to customise their learning experience. Educators often use online platforms such as Singapore Student Learning Space (SLS) to track progress and provide differentiated instructions for students. The Ministry of Education (MOE) has also addressed that blended learning will develop students into self-directed learners and is even planning to implement blended learning in secondary and pre-university levels in 2022.

2. PLD for Secondary School Students

Understanding the need for increased off-campus learning, Singapore’s Ministry of Education has rolled out an initiative to provide either a laptop or tablet to every student in secondary school by the end of 2021 to help them learn online and at home. These Personal Learning Devices (PLD) will support students as blended learning is fully implemented in 2022.

3. SkillsFuture

There has been a substantial push for the MySkillsFuture initiative, which encourages Singaporeans to continue learning and develop skills. The MySkillsFuture for students platform is not only open to young adults in pre-university and tertiary institutions, but also to primary and secondary students. With a range of educational guides and courses for students to explore, it is a one-stop online platform that provides students with the opportunity to take their own education into their own hands.

Journeying Through the Challenges of Online Learning

Increased flexibility, self-motivation, and adapting to new technologies are some of the greatest advantages of online learning. However, other challenges it poses are not to be taken lightly either.

1. Data Privacy & Security

As schools move lessons online, there's been an increased concern over privacy. Outside of school-run platforms, there are other applications individuals may turn to. However, these platforms may not be designed specifically for children or even require personal information. For example, remote proctoring platforms have raised privacy concerns due to their ability to record students’ screens, track searches, and even monitor eye movement.

There have also been instances where students attempt to hack into programmes on Kahoot! with programming bots to spam their quizzes. With students sufficiently fluent in technology able to pull off such tricks, imagine what a sophisticated hacker could do. Of course, a next-generation firewall would be one of the best solutions. But at home, consider M1’s Cyber Guardian for added protection. Filtering out internet security threats and 24/7 network protection, parents can rest assured that their kids are surfing the internet safely at all times.

2. Proper Time Management

Using a computer means that students have instant access to apps like Facebook, YouTube, and Reddit, which can distract them from the class. There are lockout apps to prevent this. Cyber Guardian also allows users to limit screen time and manage online activity remotely.

3. Mental Health

Students can feel quite isolated from teachers and classmates, which may impact their mental health. The lack of social cohesion and reduced interaction can be difficult for many. While businesses can implement collaboration strategies through Dropbox, Trello, Slack, and the like, students and teachers can increase communication via channels such as email, instant messaging, and video conferencing.

Sign Up for a Fast Internet Connection

It is said that for “those who do have access to the right technology, there is evidence that learning online can be more effective in a number of ways.” Therefore, instead of thinking about the challenges and disadvantages of online learning, it may be to our benefit to focus on having access to the best home Wi-Fi solution. To better improve you or your child’s learning experience, tap into the great fibre broadband plans we offer for a fast internet connection.

At M1, we stand our exceptional home Wi-Fi solutions. On top of delivering lightning-fast internet connection speeds, you’ll be impressed that we’re also one of the cheapest fibre broadband providers in Singapore. Check out our fibre broadband plans today!