Covid-19 is shaking up the entire system of education and not just for students and teachers. They and many others who comprise and support the education system are being confronted by measures to ensure the containment of Covid-19 and ensure that schools are safe. And so they should to avoid schools becoming sites of contagion – the next versions of long term care facilities.
Universities and colleges, kindergartens and high schools, as educational spaces, are congested and interactive. They are ideal breeding grounds for anything contagious like Covid-19. And while youngsters are unlikely to succumb, their older teachers are definitely vulnerable.
The August 8-14th issue of “The Economist” published an article entitled “Uncanny University” that highlights Covid-19 related troubles facing colleges and universities. The article cites the impact of declining registrations and tuition’s especially for those that rely heavily on foreign students facing travel restrictions and outright bans. System adaptations include: increasing of Online program delivery, restricting campus usage, and increasing emphasis on delivering employment related programs and those for higher wage earners. The article concludes that the golden age of extraordinary growth for universities and colleges is over. FOR MORE PLEASE READ HERE
The closing of K-12 schools in the spring exposed the many vulnerabilities of the public school system:
Teachers – individually and as a unionized profession have spoken out. Covid-19 is dangerous; they do not feel safe to return to the former classroom.
Parents – are anxious about having their children return to school – unless it is safe to do so and learning can continue. Also, so they can get back to work, resume earning a living, and heal the economy.
Service Suppliers – of which there are many, are out of work: janitors and administrators, bus drivers and librarians, and others who supply services and materials for schools.
What can be done and who is to decide? Teachers are reluctant to return. Parents generally agree. The higher-ups are scrambling, most seeking some version of the past, the familiar – kids in the classroom with a teacher. Until Covid-19 is no longer a continuing threat that is just not going to happen. Many are of the view that education as we have known it may be in for a significant transformation. As chaotic as it has been for so many, perhaps Covid-19 is the trigger for reforming public systems established for the student but designed for the supplier.
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Introducing Telepresence in Education
What follows is a somewhat futuristic scenario employing robotic technologies to restore safety to education.
Consider telepresence – robo-teachers in the classroom providing personal audio-visual rendition of the teacher who is elsewhere. In this scenario a teacher – of any age or vulnerability, can “virtually” return to a full classroom and it is safe to do so. Advanced telepresence also gives the teacher mobility in the classroom to personalize their interaction with each student. Discipline is maintained. The curriculum is sustained. Education suppliers resume.
Some progressive differences to former educational practices can be anticipated. For example, each school would routinely monitor individual learning progress and arrange for tutouring, supplemental support, when special circumstances dictate. Some schools may opt to have a single teacher serve multiple classes simultaneously. Those teachers freed up would join the supplementary support cadre – advancing the teaching profession to a whole new level…a commitment to learning. Schools would assign designated assistants to be on hand for extracurricular activities: toilet breaks and lunch, recess and emergencies, come first to mind.
Introducing telepresence to education is more than fanciful. Covid has already triggered examples in education where telepresence is being employed. FOR MORE visit https://www.doublerobotics.com/stories/ Also of interest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_iYM1nD9u8 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdm4hLM7_fo
Please contact us with your comments. We are particularly interested to learn where and who are shaping the future of education.