March 23, 2023

There is no question that things are different now. The pandemic has changed everything about teaching and learning. Students and teachers can try to recreate the previous learning environment, but that does not change the fact that essentially, nothing is the same. As Pulitzer Prize winning public health journalist Laurie Garrett said, “In the years after coronavirus, nothing will be as it was before.”
The changes in our educational system brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic require every teacher to re-examine the way they teach in the same manner as students need to reconsider the way they learn. As remote learning becomes the norm, it becomes harder to maximize student learning outcomes because the resources that foster learning in face-to-face environments are substantially diminished. Remote or distance learning oftentimes affect students’ experiences and success. Students are physically separated; thus, the resources and interactions available to students through faculty, peers, and offices at the campus may not be used or considered. This can result in a decrease of opportunities for academic and social integration, which, according to education researchers, are known predictors of student success.
Therefore, as teachers embark on figuring out remote or distance learning at scale, they must consider a variety of methods for engaging learners – calling students by phone, sending tutorial videos, allowing students to demonstrate their understanding through varied methods, and many other innovative ways aimed at giving the learners the best remote learning experience.
My premise as an educator is that remote learning in the new normal will not just be about operating in an environment that secures the health of students; nor will it be about completely transitioning to other teaching and learning modalities. Instead, it should be about empowering learners and communities to create positive learning environments in which the student can thrive and foster. It should not compromise quality but continue to provide equal opportunities, most especially to the marginalized and vulnerable sectors. It is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but one that is dependent on the needs of each learning community.
As we explore digital options and other platforms beyond traditional schooling, let us not also forget learners with special needs. Moving to totally different learning systems can be very challenging for many students but to students with learning difficulties, it can be very overwhelming. Likewise, it can be a monumental challenge for teachers as they need to find strategies to help these learners continue to learn throughout remote learning. — Pamela P. Estigoy