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5 Ways the Way We Learn will Change Post Covid-19

It is no well-kept secret that all of us, who are fortunate enough to have the technological capabilities, are reverting more permanently to online solutions for most of our daily activities.  From shopping, to our daily entertainment and connecting with others almost always happens now through the medium of screen.  For many home businesses, this is nothing new – many introverts thrive working from home and do so successfully.  

This current lockdown will indeed change how we learn.  The question is how?  Children of all ages, however, are not seamlessly integrating into online learning.  Schools are each implementing various methodologies for disseminating relevant age-appropriate information but are faced with a variety of issues from student access to appropriate hardware and affordable internet.  There is most definitely something to be said for face-to-face teaching and its benefits.  In addition to technological difficulties, schools and teachers are required to assess learning and growth of the learner with often-inconsistent connectivity.  Parents, especially of younger children, are forced to take on the supporting teacher role, without any of the pay.  This Lockdown hasn’t been easy for anyone.  

Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom; students are surprisingly adaptable.  Change isn’t necessarily easy for anyone, however students, especially children, have an uncanny ability to adjust to new routines.  Research concluded by the Colorado State University states that even children with emotional ill health, demonstrated resilience assuming certain factors such as support were present.  

We can say with some measure of certainty that most students, regardless of age, will be forced by COVID-19 Lockdown situation to develop a host of additional skills and strengthen certain personality traits.  High School and Tertiary students will certainly develop some measure of responsibility and self-efficacy.  Now the question is, what are these skills, and will they benefit us post COVID-19?  

In other words, how will the Lockdown change the way we learn?

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 1. Force Us to Find New Solutions

New solutions to unforeseen problems will not only propel web- and app- developers but will also force students to seek solutions to problems.  Don’t have a printer at home?  Find a way to edit online documents.  Don’t have access to a computer to complete assignments?  Find an app that allows you to use your smartphone to complete assignments professionally.  Where there is a will there is a way and the situation is driving students (and of course their educational counterpart) to seek solutions that were not required from them just a short couple of months ago.  Thinking out of the box and solution-seeking also changes the physical structure of the brain and creates further learning opportunities.  

2. Improve Time-Management Skills and Self-Organisation

Life under lockdown is very different.  Teeth-brushing has become optional.  Students are required to cultivate their own time management skills and develop new routines that were previously foreign.  The most logical way to do this is to create a simple timetable for weekdays and leave weekends more flexible for leisure time.  The problem that I have always found with students and timetables, is that schedules are one of the least loved and followed instruments for self-organisation.  So, what do I suggest?  The timetable of course.  There is no other planning method that I have found that works as well.  The Lockdown serves as an opportunity for the student to develop a reasonable and revisable schedule that allows for learning (through the various mediums such webinars, online courses, reading from a textbook or notes and completing assignments).   Unfortunately, adult life is filled with responsibilities, it is therefore an opportune time for older students to take initiative and plan their own daily schedules.

3. Paperless Environment

I can almost hear advocates of recycling cheering this on!  One undoubtable positive from the commonplace remote learning activities is the massive reduction in paper wastage.  In addition to landfill reduction, students are learning to navigate new applications that require online activity completion.  Online skills will not go amiss in the world clearly headed for the 4IR of Artificial Intelligence and Globalisation.

4. Powerful Research Skills

Young adults are particularly adept at navigating the realms of social media and online shopping.  They can find the best deal for a pair of lit sneakers so that it maximises their pocket money reach.  No corner of the internet is too far when motivated enough.  These research skills have become useful and can be homed in on and improved when it relates to searching for information for learning and development.  Gathering relevant data and transforming that data into useful information that can be analysed for learning and study purposes is an essential skill as we uncertainly step forward post Lockdown.

5. Thrive or Dive

As the Lockdown is forcing us to change and adapt to new ways of learning and become largely self-reliant, it all comes down to whether we swim or sink.  Concepts such as perseverance and grit will be tested and become synonymous with successful learning.  Students will be required to collaborate with each other for project work and communicate through various platforms that will teach them adaptability and test their communication skills (and often patience).   We will see skills that are usually learnt later in life (and mostly through so-called ‘life experience’) become commonplace in a younger person, namely, networking, problem-solving and taking initiative. 

As we progress through lockdown and into the post COVID-19 era, we are likely to see a development of skills that students would have acquired during the lockdown.  These skills, if repeated through practice, will greatly benefit the learning process going forward.