.
T

he historian Nicholas Mulder has written about the ways in which the global economic response to COVID-19 are comparable to wartime economics. Mulder identified five key similarities around productivity, sacrifice, reform, solidarity, and inventiveness. Those could also serve as a framework for the key themes that came up in the first World Innovation Summit for Education / Salzburg Global Seminar online conference ‘Education Disrupted, Education Reimagined’.

The scale of disruption that the pandemic has caused to education is unprecedented. Manos Antoninis, the Director of the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report, showed that in the 100 days prior to the conference, 90% of learners worldwide had their education disrupted and 188 countries had shut down their school systems. Usage of the word ‘unprecedented’ has surged in the first half of this year, but there really hasn’t ever been anything comparable to this in the history of education.

Education Disrupted, Education Reimagined had three main objectives to try and help with the global education response:

- To exchange ideas and practice across different education systems around effective responses to the disruption the pandemic is causing.

- To help stimulate global conversations about how education can be part of the ‘build back better’ narrative and what might change within education systems when a ‘new normal’ emerges post-COVID-19.

- To help document, narrate, and analyze responses at all levels—school, institutional, and multi-lateral in figuring out what has worked, what has not worked, and what still needs to be reimagined so we can adjust our responses now.

Here we summarize some of the key themes and recommendations from across the two days. All of the sections of the conference are available to watch here.  

Education for the Whole Child

The importance of compassion, kindness, empathy, and understanding, as well as resilience, self-regulation, and responsible decision making—all core social and emotional skills—came up repeatedly as being crucial for students and adults during the crisis. Schools, teachers, and families all have a key role to play in supporting young people to develop these behaviors, skills, and competencies. These are not new trends in education, but their importance has never been clearer.

Schools are hugely important in their communities and in the lives of their students. Vishal Talreja, in the opening keynote, said that it is not only their education that has been disrupted, for many children being out of school has also meant the loss of their sense of routine and community and, in the case of the most vulnerable children, access to nutrition and a safe environment away from an abusive home.

Schools play many roles, in addition to the transfer of knowledge, in young people’s lives. Many of these roles are highly visible now because of their absence. Creative ways of recreating them were a consistent characteristic of some of the most powerful examples of responses to the shutdown. The importance of the relationships between schools, teachers, and families is taking on greater significance. Developing new ways of engaging parents, whenever possible, in students’ education, both now and moving forward, is a clear priority in many systems.

Equity of Opportunity and Access

A key challenge for schools is how to create equitable remote or distance learning opportunities. Technology is only a solution in some contexts and can take many forms; there are creative examples of ‘low tech’ solutions already being rolled out using radio and text messages. Many school leaders and policy makers are concerned about inadvertently accentuating disadvantages or inequalities.  

There is a growing body of evidence showing the disproportional impact the pandemic is having on minority and vulnerable populations. There are significant concerns about the potential post-pandemic increase in student drop-out rates for a variety of reasons.

The pandemic has also revealed a range of positive changes that could have happened years ago had there been the commercial or political will. The introduction of free Wi-Fi across many cities to help with remote learning being a case in point. These positive changes need to be preserved.

Education Reimagined

Crises can act as fuel for the imagination and in the most challenging environments innovation can occur in dynamic ways. New ways of working are put together incredibly quickly and old ways dropped.

It is increasingly becoming more and more obvious that the purpose of education needs to expand to embrace learning powered by concern for the physical, mental health, and emotional well-being of every student and every teacher. This crisis is an opportunity to rethink the very purpose of education so that it is more supportive of building better and happier societies. Our collective understanding of where and how learning takes place is changing and it feels very unlikely that we will go back to the pre-pandemic way of working.

Much of the demand for this is going to come from students. As Andreas Schleicher, Director of the Directorate of Education and Skills at the OECD phrased it “You’re going to have a lot of young people who have experienced different forms of learning in this crisis, learning that was more fun, more empowering. They will go back to their teachers and say: can we do things differently?”

The next Education Disrupted, Education Reimagined event begins on June 23 and will focus in part on the data and metrics that we have and we need in order to understand the effectiveness of different education responses during the first phase of COVID-19, and how, in turn, this can help education systems and individual institutions be better prepared for future crises.

About
Dominic Regester
:
Dominic Regester is Program Director at Salzburg Global Seminar and Executive Committee Member, Karanga.
About
Omar Zaki
:
Omar Zaki is a Senior Research Associate at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), where he supports the activities and programs of the WISE research team, including the Agile Leaders of Learning Innovation Network (ALL-IN).
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

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Education Disrupted, Education Reimagined

June 15, 2020

T

he historian Nicholas Mulder has written about the ways in which the global economic response to COVID-19 are comparable to wartime economics. Mulder identified five key similarities around productivity, sacrifice, reform, solidarity, and inventiveness. Those could also serve as a framework for the key themes that came up in the first World Innovation Summit for Education / Salzburg Global Seminar online conference ‘Education Disrupted, Education Reimagined’.

The scale of disruption that the pandemic has caused to education is unprecedented. Manos Antoninis, the Director of the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report, showed that in the 100 days prior to the conference, 90% of learners worldwide had their education disrupted and 188 countries had shut down their school systems. Usage of the word ‘unprecedented’ has surged in the first half of this year, but there really hasn’t ever been anything comparable to this in the history of education.

Education Disrupted, Education Reimagined had three main objectives to try and help with the global education response:

- To exchange ideas and practice across different education systems around effective responses to the disruption the pandemic is causing.

- To help stimulate global conversations about how education can be part of the ‘build back better’ narrative and what might change within education systems when a ‘new normal’ emerges post-COVID-19.

- To help document, narrate, and analyze responses at all levels—school, institutional, and multi-lateral in figuring out what has worked, what has not worked, and what still needs to be reimagined so we can adjust our responses now.

Here we summarize some of the key themes and recommendations from across the two days. All of the sections of the conference are available to watch here.  

Education for the Whole Child

The importance of compassion, kindness, empathy, and understanding, as well as resilience, self-regulation, and responsible decision making—all core social and emotional skills—came up repeatedly as being crucial for students and adults during the crisis. Schools, teachers, and families all have a key role to play in supporting young people to develop these behaviors, skills, and competencies. These are not new trends in education, but their importance has never been clearer.

Schools are hugely important in their communities and in the lives of their students. Vishal Talreja, in the opening keynote, said that it is not only their education that has been disrupted, for many children being out of school has also meant the loss of their sense of routine and community and, in the case of the most vulnerable children, access to nutrition and a safe environment away from an abusive home.

Schools play many roles, in addition to the transfer of knowledge, in young people’s lives. Many of these roles are highly visible now because of their absence. Creative ways of recreating them were a consistent characteristic of some of the most powerful examples of responses to the shutdown. The importance of the relationships between schools, teachers, and families is taking on greater significance. Developing new ways of engaging parents, whenever possible, in students’ education, both now and moving forward, is a clear priority in many systems.

Equity of Opportunity and Access

A key challenge for schools is how to create equitable remote or distance learning opportunities. Technology is only a solution in some contexts and can take many forms; there are creative examples of ‘low tech’ solutions already being rolled out using radio and text messages. Many school leaders and policy makers are concerned about inadvertently accentuating disadvantages or inequalities.  

There is a growing body of evidence showing the disproportional impact the pandemic is having on minority and vulnerable populations. There are significant concerns about the potential post-pandemic increase in student drop-out rates for a variety of reasons.

The pandemic has also revealed a range of positive changes that could have happened years ago had there been the commercial or political will. The introduction of free Wi-Fi across many cities to help with remote learning being a case in point. These positive changes need to be preserved.

Education Reimagined

Crises can act as fuel for the imagination and in the most challenging environments innovation can occur in dynamic ways. New ways of working are put together incredibly quickly and old ways dropped.

It is increasingly becoming more and more obvious that the purpose of education needs to expand to embrace learning powered by concern for the physical, mental health, and emotional well-being of every student and every teacher. This crisis is an opportunity to rethink the very purpose of education so that it is more supportive of building better and happier societies. Our collective understanding of where and how learning takes place is changing and it feels very unlikely that we will go back to the pre-pandemic way of working.

Much of the demand for this is going to come from students. As Andreas Schleicher, Director of the Directorate of Education and Skills at the OECD phrased it “You’re going to have a lot of young people who have experienced different forms of learning in this crisis, learning that was more fun, more empowering. They will go back to their teachers and say: can we do things differently?”

The next Education Disrupted, Education Reimagined event begins on June 23 and will focus in part on the data and metrics that we have and we need in order to understand the effectiveness of different education responses during the first phase of COVID-19, and how, in turn, this can help education systems and individual institutions be better prepared for future crises.

About
Dominic Regester
:
Dominic Regester is Program Director at Salzburg Global Seminar and Executive Committee Member, Karanga.
About
Omar Zaki
:
Omar Zaki is a Senior Research Associate at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), where he supports the activities and programs of the WISE research team, including the Agile Leaders of Learning Innovation Network (ALL-IN).
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.