The next normal for education will be a blend of online and traditional learning, experts say

COVID-19 has made a huge impact on our society. Not only has it heavily challenged and strained our health workers and healthcare system, but it’s also interrupted education and the continuation of academics for many. So many children have had to drop out of school because of lack of internet access, increasing the rate of drop-outs and further dividing those who can afford to learn and those who can’t.

Because of this interruption of learning, many students will not be able to complete their studies on time or will likely not return to school at all depending on how long the pandemic stretches–and this is just unfair to those who don’t have access to the internet and digital learning.

A good portion of Europe and the United States have internet access, but many third world countries do not, stripping them of information and opportunity. Learning doesn’t have to happen only in the classroom (or virtual classroom), of course, but many students and families rely on schools to teach their children because of different circumstances that can complicate their situations. School is where they’re equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to prepare them for what’s next. Many are stripped of this right and are, instead, left without the opportunity to further their learning.

According to Dr. Lucia de Callale, Chairwoman of IE Rockets, during a webinar hosted by IGNITE on what’s next for education, we have to look forward to the next normal where education blends the traditional way of schooling (i.e. going to an institution and physically being present) and relying on digital infrastructure for learning (where we rely on technology). Leaning towards either extreme may either endanger a student’s health or deprive those who don’t have the resources for online classes. “We need to digitize,” she says during the webinar. “It’s impossible to satisfy with the traditional system given everything that’s happening.”

COVID has truly changed the way we perceive digital infrastructure in contemporary times–according to Dr. de Callale, it will soon become a necessity and public policies have to become more supportive of it. With the rise of digitization in terms of employment, as well, tech skills are needed now more than ever. She projects that over 75% of jobs will be digital, highlighting the urgency of learning more technical and digital skills.

Which is why we need, more than ever, to blend the education system. Kids can learn traditionally, sure, but there needs to be an accompaniment of digitization because of how the world is progressing–especially after the pandemic. It’s fantastic that many children are a click away from education, but not all children have that same luxury. There needs to be an effort in terms of public policies to make that available to them, as they will need to equip themselves with those skills in the future, too. The next normal should have little pieces of both types of learning in order to best take advantage of digital infrastructure and what it can offer to accelerate and encourage learning.

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