Education is going to have to change in the world of COVID-19. Here’s what I think it should look like when things have stabilized.
It’s not really COVID-19 that’s the motivator; it’s just the proof that we should have changed education a long time ago. And I’m not an educator, unless you count my experience homeschooling – but that experience isn’t really useful for what I see education becoming.
What it should look like
The goal is to be as in-person as possible, without adding unnecessary risk to being in a classroom.
I think what should happen is that every classroom become a hybrid in-person/distance learning environment.
By this, I mean that students should be able to attend the same class both remotely and in-person.
The infrastructure for this wouldn’t be too difficult: you’d need a reliable internet connection, a monitor dedicated to broadcasting remote students’ video and audio to the entire classroom, and two cameras: one pointed at the teacher’s station (presumably around a whiteboard) and the other pointed at the in-person students. You’d also possibly need a monitor dedicated to the teacher, so the teacher would be able to filter or mute as needed.
A student would have the option of attending in-person (obviously), or – if they’re feeling ill – remotely. If they’re feeling poorly enough, absence is also an option.
The actual classes conducted would be recorded (for future reference, primarily by students unable to attend at all).
The conference software would have to be able to broadcast as many feeds as were available; the teacher would also have to be able to control the conference (imagine a dog barking in the background of a student’s home; the teacher would need to be able to mute that student temporarily.) The students would have to have a way to ask for attention in such a way that it was difficult to miss without being disruptive.
We have the technology for all of this today. We may need better infrastructure, but I don’t think that would be too difficult.