BASED on experience and observational studies, it is concluded by leading educationalists that in response to the Covid-19 closure of schools and universities, the learning institutions were, and are, basically practising emergency remote teaching (ERT) and not e-learning.

It is because ERT is a practical, temporary and short-term transition of delivering education to deal with the crisis situation without much change in pedagogy. On the other hand, e-learning requires careful deliberation and the formulation of institutional policies and frameworks for course design and specialised training of teachers to become familiar with state-of-the-art online teaching tools and sites. This is to enable them to execute good-quality engaging outline for students in the academic year and semesters.

More than that, it requires effective and streamlined collaboration with the information technology (IT) department and the pedagogues so that the education delivery and term assessments are not compromised at all.

Many educational institutions in Pakistan are already familiarising and assisting their teachers with interactive teaching tools, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Jamboards and Google Classrooms, ensuring that education and learning is not disrupted at any cost.

More than that, they are also conducting digital assessments on forums such as exam.net through comprehensive training and assistance to the teachers and students. This means that in the midst of challenging times, teachers can become facilitators and responsible educationists who strive to preserve the future of their students by ensuring that they do not slack at any point.

Even though it is undeniable that the rapid shift to the use of technology in classrooms is without difficulties and obstacles for instructors, embracing e-learning, and not ERT, is the code of future education and learning.

Even if the schools are physically functional, the possibility of future lockdowns still looms over our heads. As the future of education stands blurred before us, it is imperative that the government and the private sector collaborate over the implementation of e-learning.

This would require careful design, planning, research, investment prioritisation and resource allocation, training and assistance to faculty members, and hiring learning designers who are responsible for integrating pedagogy with technology and relearning the modes of teaching and instruction.

But what is more important is that students should be engaged in the process as their learning experience must be at the core of all pedagogies.

Hadia Mukhtar
Karachi

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2020