Wednesday, November 10, 2021

How do we make sure we learn from SARS-Cov-2, unlike SARS-Cov-1?

Greetings from EDUtech Asia 2021 where Martin Dougiamas, founder of Moodle was the keynote today. Unlike 2018, when I bumped into Martin in Singapore, this is all online. Naturally much of the discussion this year is about the online experience due to COVID-19. But the SARS-Cov-1 virus closed classrooms in 2003, just as SARS-Cov-2 did in 2020. How do we make sure we learn from history this time, and so do not repeat the mistakes again?

Reading media reports from 2003, sounds remarkably like the present. Back then a disease "SARS" had closed classrooms and forced study online from home. Some Singapore educational institutions, notably NTU, prepared for e-learning during future pandemics, after their SARS experience (this was pointed out to me when I was giving a talk in Singapore a decade ago). But 2020, this lesson seemed to be forgotten, and institutions had to scramble to switch online.  My suggestion is to make online teaching upward compatible with the classroom.

"Over the past two months, schools throughout Beijing, Hong Kong, and Singapore looked like mini-ghost towns: empty, silent classrooms, deserted hallways, and vacant playing fields.

The steep escalation of people contracting the potentially fatal respiratory illness known as SARS forced many government and school officials in Asia to close school for more than 2 million students. Schools are gradually reopening, and, surprisingly, many students aren’t behind academically.

That’s because while school buildings stood empty, students still attended classes—virtually. Their experience, a U.S. observer says, could hold lessons for American educators as they make contingency plans for a host of different emergencies." 
From: Online Learning Fills Void in Nations Coping With SARS, By Rhea R. Borja, Education Week, May 21, 2003 

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