Emergency Remote Teaching: make the most of it

Image: Daria Nipot / Adobe Stock

According to UNESCO, one and a half billion people are deprived of education due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and society is shifting from traditional education to different versions of online education at a frenetic rate.

Owing to this massive demand to adopt innovation (which vastly exceeds the rate of Rogers’ curve of early adopters), some mistakes are inevitable. Many instructors are not aware of the pedagogical shift related to distance education.

Certainly, nobody can predict the outcomes of this pedagogical shift with accuracy. No one was able to predict instructors’ and students’ high level of self-organisation and the immediate setup of supportive groups (which also include parents).

What is happening worldwide in the educational field is known as Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT) – a temporary shift to an alternate delivery mode due to critical circumstances. ERT should gradually lead to mature distance education, fulfilling educational needs beyond the current crisis.

We should build an ERT mechanism to act as first responders in areas challenged by manmade or natural disasters. So, if a location is suffering – let’s say from floods – ERT can be activated to restore the education process instantly. Obviously, investing in ERT is a win-win scenario for everyone, as we build teams of experienced instructors in each country to take over in case of a crisis. Such teams of ERT instructors can also support the teaching process in very isolated areas, where the physical presence of an instructor is almost impossible (absent a specific crisis). Therefore, ERT can create new job positions for instructors but also improve educational services at a national level.

Let’s be positive inventive and optimistic, focusing only on the benefits of this pedagogical shift, and retain the best practices to improve our planning for the future!

Dr Tsinakos Avgoustos is a Professor and Director of the Advanced Educational Technologies and Mobile Applications (AETMA) Lab in the Department of Computing Science at the International Hellenic University in Greece.