The pandemic holds an enormous impact on students and teachers in our school system. Most articles and observers focus solely on the negative consequences of education during COVID, and rightfully so, but there is also is an interesting balance of discovering the silver lining during the unprecedented chaos. This lining takes on many different forms and requires a different sort of perception. As I have spoken to teachers, there is an inevitable focus on the issues surrounding their new teaching circumstances, but there always comes a time in our conversations where they reflect on the unexpected moments of hopefulness.
The sense of community rises amidst global tragedy, and that is especially potent in schools. The comradery I briefly referred to in the last blog is certainly present in classrooms of every shape and size. There is nothing like mutual suffering to bond a community. Schools, and more specifically classrooms, hold an inherent bond of togetherness. Educators have spoken about the sense of comfort and relief students have in being a part of a school community in whatever way they are able. Those who are in person, especially, have conveyed their positive reactions to being able to see and speak to students. In our world safety and normalcy are difficult to acquire, and a school can be that haven for many students.
In order to achieve this sense of community, there is a need to utilize technology in ways that have not been used before, which can be scary. Technology’s grip on our society is undeniable in this day and age. It has complete control over our perception of the world and ourselves. Within technology’s control over humanity, it is important to understand and utilize it as well. Learning and teaching online allows for a great opportunity to harness some sense of control over this impending source of power that is technology. There have been so many incredible resources that teachers and students alike are discovering to benefit themselves and their education. Most are much more in tune with technology, or at the very least more aware of the potential it can hold. Teachers have reflected on how much they have been forced to learn through these times, willing or unwilling. The exposure to the newfound tools of education through technology has been largely positive, even though the process and circumstances are not.
The willingness to embrace technology also has a great impact on the transition to this brand new realm of learning. My own experience with online learning this past spring reflected the role that the professors’ willingness to change had on the success of the course. That is not to say that an educator’s technology skills have anything to do with their capabilities as a teacher, but amidst this chaos, those who are more accepting of technology have seemingly been able to make a smoother transition to our new reality of education. For many new educators, technology was already fully incorporated into their classroom, so this new reality was slightly more similar to their own before the pandemic. Whether on Zoom or a form of socially distant classroom, it is now necessary to branch out beyond the traditional classroom setting. Once again this does mean that those who are comfortable with technological learning are superior teachers, only that our new world is more similar to their own before the pandemic. Technology can be quite intimidating on many fronts, but the ability to harness and utilize it is invaluable.
Modernity and technology are one in the same, one cannot exist without the other. Technology is an inevitability in our modernity and that truth has only grown stronger throughout this wild year. It allows for a unique sense of community and access to an infinite source of information. With this comes a dependency that is quite frightening on many fronts. It is impossible to quantify the success, or the harm technology is having in our schools, but the impact it has is undoubtedly complex and no one, let alone a twenty-something college student, is going to uncover a definite answer. Exploring education in technology is a journey without a destination, a journey that demonstrates the intricacies of being an educator. And amidst these complexities resides a persistent sense of hopefulness and community moving towards our future.
Thank you for taking the time to read and please leave any thoughts below!