Distance learning – evident for hundreds of years, despite the mobile telephone only being created in 1984.
The concept of studying in a different location to the teacher began in the 1840s, with letters being posted back and forth to students wanting to learn shorthand (an abbreviated version of written English).
However, it wasn’t until 1960 that the first innovative computer platform was created; its legacy being the invention of instant messaging. Distance learning had suddenly transformed into online learning.
Since then, the thirst for both these types of learning has continued. From virtual schooling to training employees in major companies, the e-learning market will be worth approximately $325 billion by 2025 (Chernev, 2020). It seems that it has never been more important for educators to be able to access and use technology effectively, in order to develop professionally and to teach well. In fact, without that understanding, global teaching standards may widen beyond repair.
This prediction fails to account for the 2020 world pandemic that is Covid-19. To date, an estimated 47 million people have contracted this virus (Worldometer, 2020), leading to 131 countries worldwide closing their schools. An astounding 56% of students are still not currently able to access education – a staggering 1.3 billion learners (UNESCO, 2020). Where possible, education has gone online, but in many communities, this is not possible. This lack of worldwide schooling has resulted in an increase in global humanitarian disasters, including child poverty; child marriages; and gender-based violence, leading to multiple charities, including UNESCO and VSO, launching new projects and initiatives to help the most vulnerable.
Understandably, teachers want to return to the safety of the classroom to protect their students from these dangers – and of course, to keep them learning – but stability is prevented by the immediate health threat of Covid-19. Education remains in a state of limbo; whilst many schools are now open, further possible closures haunt society. Gaps in learning trouble both teacher and learner; the pressure to cover knowledge and skills missed feels insurmountable. Add social distancing into the mix and the outcome is an overwhelming battle for teachers – one that lacks direction and community; one that results in a sense of worthlessness. Put simply, the feeling of failing alone is isolating our best and most constant learning resources – our teachers.
Thankfully though, there is a device to unite us all, no matter the location: the smartphone. Over the first half of the year, many schools all over the world used their mobiles to support families remotely, even if it was just by sending a simple email. But is the smartphone really being used to its full potential, especially by our teachers?
Recognising that online learning through the smartphone is the future of low-cost access to high quality and contextualised professional development, we, The Commonwealth Education Trust (charity number 1119647), launched Teach2030 in 2018; our flagship digital programme that helps teachers develop their skills and model the growth expected in their learners. With success shown by average course completion rates standing at over 70%, our multiple personalised courses are closing teaching distances worldwide.
With this current world crisis, the launch of Become a Digital Learner: Using Your Smartphone (Beginner) has never been more timely. Our new course outlines how best to use the device, with clearly divided stages that support learning. Throughout, there is focus on how to improve standards of teaching through searching for information on websites, using videos to improve subject knowledge and reading classroom scenarios that shows how to put these skills into practice. Yet, most importantly in these troubled times, clear instructions are outlined on how to best build a digital network, so that teachers always feel both connected and fulfilled, and can share their practice as well as learning ideas, from others teaching in similar settings. By implementing tips on how to use WiFi to save money on data, feeling disconnected should be a thing of the past, especially after joining our professional community on our Facebook page.
Even once these first waves of Covid have passed, the benefits of the professional development teacher strategies that can be learnt now using the smartphone will help improve the lives of millions of children forever.
Travel with Teach2030 for that journey.
Bobby Chernev (2020)27 Astonishing e-Learning Facts Available at: https://techjury.net/blog/elearning-statistics/#gref
Explore Talent LMS (2020) The History of E-Learning Available at: https://www.talentlms.com/elearning/history-of-elearning
Unesco (2020) School Closures Available at: https://en.unesco.org/covid19/educationresponse
Worldometer (2020) Coronavirus Pandemic Available at: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/?utm_campaign=homeAdUOA?Si