How Has COVID-19 Impacted Education?

‘Of all the changes we had to embrace one significant shift, especially in the lives of us youths, was our approach to education.’


Source: Pixabay

To put it as positively as possible, 2020 has been eventful. And there is certainly no need to list all the details. This year chucked all kinds of change at us – right in the face, too. The months stuck indoors with your siblings may not exactly be the best of memories. Goodbyes to beach holidays had to be said, and garden barbecues became the new normal. However, these lockdowns definitely taught us to appreciate our privileges in life: food, shelter and the company of our families. More importantly, it really allowed us to slow down and take some time for ourselvesDuring this period, we could really sit down with a book and enjoy our daily doses of Vitamin D from the exceptionally bright sun. Of all the changes we had to embrace one significant shift, especially in the lives of us youths, waour approach to education. 


With the implementation of social distancing measuresmany schools reopened in time for the beginning of the new academic year. Marymount, in particular, has adopted a set of effective (and yes, some annoying) steps to ensure students and staff stay safe on campusIn spite of this, many of us were probably glad to finally return to real classrooms and see the faces (or only eyes) of our friends again. Most importantly, all of us, students and staff alike, were probably relieved to say goodbye to the never ending Teams calls.  


Even before the government announced the closure of schools back in Marchmany international students left the UK to return to their home countries – this was very much the case with Marymount. However, it wasn’t until over a month into the first national lockdown that schools finally devised a system for students to reconnect with their teachers and mentors online. A platform for them to continue pursuing education. But was that really the case?  


Firstly, there were the technical difficulties. I used to consider myself to be pretty good with my devices. Lockdown proved me wrong. I am sure I was not the only one sitting in front of a black screen, helpless, when there was supposed to be a video playing about the Combustion of hydrocarbons. Next up was the awkward silence every class. No kidding. The bar for teaching is raised to an all-time high: a model teacher in the New Decade not only needs to be an IT expert but also capable of analyzing blank faces and vacant looks to decipher whether they meant “yes, we understand” or “huh? What are you talking about?” Finally, if there is one thing online learning taught us, then it must have been the temptations in the real world. And practically everything around you counted as one. When you were sat in front of frozen PowerPoint slide about the Imperfect tense in Spanish, look at me in the eyes and tell me that your phone and you were two meters apart 


All complaints aside, we have to acknowledge that online learning platforms were well-intentioned: to make education more accessible to students no matter their location in the world. It set out to give everyone an equal opportunity to approach their academics and seek support from teachers while physically away from school. It was a brilliant idea. And a necessary one in such times of maximum effort to reduce human contact. Yet it only complicated learning: so many students missed out on lessons and fell behind in courses because they had limited access to electronic devices or the Internet. While the online education system aimed to create seamless communication between students and teachers, the distance between one another in a Zoom class, with microphones muted and cameras off, never seemed greater. Despite the convenience of high-speed devices, students’ productivity plummeted. Emails sent by teachers chasing work were like needles dropped into the ocean –  no one ever heard a sound. 


Of coursepandemic or no pandemic, it is our responsibility, as students, to keep up with our own academic aims over the course of studying. However, when lack of motivation became frequently associated with online learningand courses had to be slowed because entire classes struggled to maintain progress, was it not reasonable to question the efficiency of online learning as a system of education?  


With the second national lockdown announced yesterday, another round of online school seems to be around the corner – in fact, it has already happened to me and the rest of Grade 10. Therefore, even if schools continue to be exempt from closure, it is highly likely that groups of students at Marymount will face the need to isolate at home and attend classes remotely. Indeed, we are the youngest generation. And yes, it looks like our future is only going to be more digital. And if that is the case with our education, it should not be something that we will one day regret.