Changes in education are usually very slow. That is the feeling of most people who work in this field. Is it really true? Nowadays, due to the pandemic, this can be viewed from another angle. Life proved us wrong. The pandemic made changes in schools overnight.
In one day we had students in classrooms everywhere and the next day we had them learning online. With some mistakes on the way, but using resources available, many schools made impressive changes in ways to attend to students’ needs.
Without time to make organised changes, plenty of schools and teachers showed great capacity of adjustment. Emergency climate ruled the way. The distance learning started, with or without technological equipment, with or without Internet access, depending on the reality of each country.
Teachers from all over Europe prepared courses online, videoconferences and TV classes, sent activities by mail, used the local authorities, and any other means available to deliver tasks to the students. They showed a courage never seen and are leading students from the present to the future.
Are they using the same methodologies? It depends, but all over new ways of teaching in new environments are being used.
How does this relate to Active Learning? Which new methodologies are being used?
All over Europe, teachers have the objective of ensuring that all children and students continue to learn whether they are at home or at school. Schools have organised themselves to define strategies to overcome the difficulties of the moment and methodologies to use were one of the focuses of their work.
This could entail for example:
- Improvement on collaborative work between teachers.
- Opening of new communication channels.
- Designing a model of distance learning adapted to each school's reality.
- Designing monitoring plan and changes in the assessment process.
- Debates around methodologies, choice of online platforms, offline strategies and equipment to be used.
- Involvement of stakeholders within the organization and from the community (parents’ associations, municipalities, fire department, social associations, equipment companies, sponsors, NGOs, etc.)
- Strategies to address children with special needs.
- Changing dynamics: this is a new path and has to be analysed through the whole process and according to changing events, which requires constant improvement.
For most teachers this means realising that changes had to be made in the tasks they sent to students, methodologies to keep them working collaboratively, flexibility in the learning process and differentiation, and new ways to access students work.
All these areas are those that active learning is all about. So, yes temporal school closures has given schools and teachers the opportunity to apply and evaluate their advantages and disadvantages. This will allow them to prepare new ways to work on learning strategies and lead us to the future.
Written by Cidália Marques, Deputy Headmaster at the Agrupamento de Escolas Fernando Casimiro Pereira da Silva (AEFCPS), Portugal. Cidalia is also a primary school teacher, educational instructor and researcher. Nowadays she is teaching coding and robotics. Her specializations are ICT in education, E-portfolios, ICT in special education and safer use of Internet.