Digitizing K-12 Education: Capturing the COVID-19 Experience and Imagining the Future

COVID-19 has exacerbated structural inequities and revealed gaps in pedagogical knowledge and infrastructure to support the use of technology for instruction. From this Webinar, we will hear the impact COVID-19 has had on education and instructional strategies in primary and secondary education that can support online teaching and learning - in the US, Kenya, Turkey, and globally.

July 22, 2020

Emergency remote education during COVID-19 has exacerbated structural inequities and revealed gaps in pedagogical knowledge and infrastructure to support the use of technology for instruction. From this webinar, we will hear about the impact COVID-19 has had on education and instructional strategies in primary and secondary education that can support online teaching and learning - in the US, Kenya, Turkey, and globally.

Program Moderator:

Dahlia Hamza Constantine – Doctoral candidate in Curriculum & Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University



Dr. Detra Price-Dennis – Associate Professor of Education at Teachers College, Columbia University

Saliha Aslan – Head of School, Üsküdar SEV Schools

Mary Muriuki – Regional Representative of Cambrilearn.com


Webinar Highlights:

Dr. Detra Price-Dennis – Due to COVID-19, educators are now expanding their instructional strategies to engage in remote learning. However, as Murugi mentioned earlier, many of these educators have not had sufficient professional development about online teaching or tools or materials to use during remote learning and find it difficult to translate their face-to-face pedagogies across different mediums during this time. Pre-COVID, the majority of professional development opportunities often created silos between content area expertise, equity-oriented practices, and integrating technology. Unfortunately, this approach did not create an infrastructure to support K-12 educators and developing curricula that centers digital tools as a means to mediate and amplify equity-oriented approaches to teaching and learning. These experiences coupled with the emerging narratives from classroom teachers during the past 15 weeks about emergency remote learning indicate that we can no longer have separate conversations in teacher education about technology on one end and then curriculum and pedagogy on the other. So at this moment, we desperately need a paradigmatic shift the merges these conversations to fully understand how teachers can move between face-to-face and online or remote instruction in ways that account for how issues in our socio-political context have merged with the digital landscape that most educators and students are now spending the majority of their time both academic and socially navigating. (Time frame from minute 05:38-07:06)

Mary Muriuki – Over the last five years or so, in Kenya, there has been a surge of an interest in online learning. Many parents have now been asking, “Can I get an online program instead of importing books or having to rely books that come from overseas?” (Time frame from minute 22:33-22:50)

Mary Muriuki – So what happened was a lot of school created like an emergency online platform or started using online tools depending on how much they know and how much access they have to online tools. So we have a large disparity of what should schools be doing and some of the schools continue to provide education up to now to some of the students that have been in their schools through digital learning. Other completely shut down and they don’t have any way of actually providing that. So, in Kenya, we find majority of these children who are in public schools and local schools are the ones who are affected mostly because they actually stop learning because their schools are not able to digitize. The best they could do is teachers sometimes bring materials to their home or they use WhatsApp and send some documents from WhatsApp or email. (Time frame from minute 23:52-24:53)

Mary Muriuki – What they [the people who she knows of] did was that they incorporated all the community into their farm life. So they created a program which I still call homeschooling, but not a typical curriculum for school. They’re actually teaching their children how to farm, how to take care of animals, how to treat animals who are sick, how to milk cows, milk goats, how to sell. Basically, they have integrated their children into their pastoral farm life and actually incorporate them in their business. (Time frame from minute 27:02-27:37)

Mary Muriuki – So many parents are beginning to realize there’s a difference between learning digitally in a group and learning digitally on a one-on-one tutorial-type education. (Time frame from minute 32:17-32:27)

Mary Muriuki – One of the things that I advise parents to do is use a blended-learning method where you limit the time that a child is actually spending time on the screen learning the content and move the child away from the screen and have a discussion with the child away from the screen and then create activities that are outside, like hands-on activities that are outside or around the home where the child is using manipulatives. And then just reading a physical book and also a lot of handwriting. (Time frame from minute 33:15-33:49)

Saliha Aslan – Most of the independent private schools had their own resources. When the teachers being able to make use of all the PDs [Professional Developments], all the technological tools. So almost all private schools took immediate action by using commonly known apps like Zoom, Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, etc. While some of them had their own tailor-made learning management systems that they could immediately reach their students. (Time frame from minute 39:46-40:12)

Saliha Aslan – By mid-March, they [Turkish Ministry of Education] introduced EBA [Education Technologies Network], which was already in place, it was already a system established in 2012, mainly for sharing teaching materials after the FATIH project, which is the EdTech kickoff in public school sector in Turkey. This www.eba.gov.tr is currently widely used because it is widened with the addition of national tv network in Turkey in order to reach remote regions as Mary said. Radio and tv are easier ways more widely used to reach more population so with people who are with people who are in the remote regions and people with limited access to internet. This was a practical solution because from the statistics, we know that, in Turkey, 98% is tv usage compared to 60% internet access. So without trying to impose the internet or the virtual web access, tv and radio was a good means to reach out to the less advantaged groups and to reduce this gap caused by inequality and access to internet because we know that all around the world we’re talking about how this inequality was amplified with this remote learning systems. (Time frame from minute 40:28-41:57)

Saliha Aslan – The Turkish Ministry of Education, which might be translated as remote teaching close follow-up program, where there was this social and emotional support to the students, to the teachers, or even to some parents who are in need. (Time frame from minute 44:15-44:31)

Saliha Aslan – Hybrid education that provides physical presence and remote learning together seems to be the future of education because we will continue to have physical contact restrictions obviously and we all experience that remote learning provides flexibility and a lot of convenience to many users. (Time frame from minute 46:22-46:42)

Saliha Aslan – Flipped learning can be considered. Students may watch lectures before coming to class while class time is devoted to applied learning activities or higher order thinking skills activities that develop the child in a more sophisticated way. Differentiation is also possible because the remote learning enables better and easier approach to individual differences. We can prepare tailor-made materials for each student and it can be enhanced via artificial intelligence to tailor the needs of individual students and individual age groups. (Time frame from minute 48:15-48:52)