Thanks to the pandemic, we can see the future of education by Uliana

Uliana's entry into Varsity Tutor's May 2020 scholarship contest

  • Rank:
  • 44 Votes
Vote for my essay with a tweet!

Thanks to the pandemic, we can see the future of education by Uliana - May 2020 Scholarship Essay

You wake up, brush your teeth, walk to the kitchen to get a cup of freshly made coffee, and you know it will be a good day as long as you stay home and have a more meaningful reason to open the laptop than Facebook or Netflix. Your physical safety and mental well-being are heavily dependent on having a remote job and a stable Internet connection, and, despite missing your friends and social activities, you are thankful to the universe for having what you have now. You know that everything could have been worse if you didn’t go to college and weren’t able to land that job that still pays your bills unlike many other occupations that do not require a degree - waiters, bartenders, cleaners, and many others who lost their jobs due to COVID-19.

The coronavirus outbreak has made us rethink our daily routines and the way we perform our jobs. Businesses realized that they may not need to rent expensive Manhattan offices because employees do get it done working remotely. People have never been so fast to apply the most recent IT-solutions to deal with the challenges of the new norm. During the current crisis, technologies, with all their flaws, including cybersecurity and privacy issues, have been proven to be more of a friend than an enemy. This gives us a unique chance to glance at the future of both workspace and education.

Not long ago, general skepticism about online education was commonplace among all involved parties - parents, students, and educators. But since we don’t have much of a choice during the pandemic, we try to focus on what can be done to improve the process, and this brings a change in attitude towards the idea of remote classes.

The mandatory closure of universities and schools have taught all students in New York City what Zoom meetings are, including 5-year-olds who are still memorizing the alphabet. “I need to scroll down” or “Can you help me to zoom in?” - these are the phrases a kindergarten teacher, tutor, or parent frequently hears these days trying to do their best to avoid interrupting the learning process.

When the pandemic is over, we will have the tools and techniques that will allow us to improve online education even further. Moreover, we will have a generation who is used to it from a very young age, and this is why it is likely that the market will try to adapt remote learning at a larger scale. Of course, the transition will not be easy. It is true that the efficiency of online classes is heavily dependent on students’ motivation and self-discipline, but this experience may teach students how to be more mature and responsible before they become adults.

There are also many positive things about remote learning. For example, it is a great way to save time on the commute. It may be an hour or two per day, but if you think of a whole academic year, it is a lot. Students can spend this free time working on their own projects on their own schedule, and understanding how to both manage your project and your own time will be handy later on in life.

I also believe that a median level of IT-literacy among the general population (and students in particular) will skyrocket after the pandemic, and, with time, it will bring changes to standard school and university curriculums. Coding, cybersecurity, and graphic design will become a big part of any type of education. These areas will be seen more as another must-have universal skill set rather than a particular area of expertise. Then, of course, a person who knows both coding and, for example, social studies or journalism will have better tools to create an innovative product at the intersection of these two previously unrelated fields.

It is furthermore inevitable that education will become even more customized than it is now. The limitations on what you are allowed to study and in what amounts will be abandoned, which would allow every individual to obtain truly unique interdisciplinary specializations, which lead human kind to greater scientific progress.

Overall, education will be focused more on understanding the matter rather than on memorizing the details one can easily look up on the Internet. One may say that this massive change will significantly diminish the role of human professors in such an atomized society of the future. But I propose this suggestion would be fundamentally wrong. Even if reduced in quantity and changed in form, human-to-human communications will become more important than ever in education. The more sophisticated the world becomes, the more information we have to digest on a daily basis, the more valuable guidance is. Moreover, in the world where most unskilled work will be performed by robots, critical thinking and creativity will be more important than ever, and these qualities cannot be developed without a proper mentorship provided by teachers or professors.

To conclude, 50 years from now, we will have more tech-savvy students and professors since computer science will become an inalienable component of a curriculum, regardless of a particular discipline one aims to master. But this will not put technologies before humans. Instead, we will learn how to incorporate them better into our daily life, education, and work-related processes, and this will add new dimensions to the analysis of every phenomenon we witness.