COVID-19: Reflections by the ASPnet community

On 12 May 2020 UNESCO Associated Schools Network (ASPnet) and UNESCO IITE jointly conducted the global webinar “COVID-19: Reflections by the ASPnet community”, which gathered students, teachers and parents from the ASPnet community as well as education experts from the Division for Peace and Sustainable Development at UNESCO, International Center for UNESCO ASPnet (ICUA), UNESCO IITE, and UNESCO’s Education Research and Foresight Programme. Over 620 global learning community members from different parts of the world joined the webinar and discussed the experience of remote learning and teaching during lockdown, and reimagining the future of education based on this experience.

The first session of the webinar “Experiences of teaching and learning during lockdown” focused on sharing observations, feelings and lessons learned in regards to how teaching and learning has been kept up during lockdown and how it worked (or not) for students, teachers and parents from different contexts and countries. Students from Indonesia and Argentina shared their feelings about distance learning: what tools they use, what challenges, drawbacks and advantages they find in e-learning, how they communicate with teachers and other students and what they miss the most being out of school. Teachers from Mongolia, Lebanon and Kenya followed the discussion with their thoughts on how they as educators cope with the remote learning: what they see as the biggest challenges and how hard they work on providing equal access to education for all students despite of poor Internet connection, lack of basic equipment or ability to learn at home.

The second session of the webinar “Going back to school, reimagining the futures of education” was dedicated to share observations, feelings and lessons learned in regards to moving from confinement to de-confinement, to the new “normal”, and to think what the future education will be like. Student from Nigeria highlighted the importance of not leaving out-of-school children behind and ensuring that every child realizes one’s right to education during and after the crisis. Following this, teachers and parents from the Netherlands, China, France and Iraq expressed their views on harnessing the potential of ICT to organize education, necessity for social and emotional learning, open discussion within learning community, efficiency of face-to-face communication and classes, role of global values and human rights in shaping the future of education.

The speakers, including those from UNESCO and ASPnet team, emphasized that remote learning with the use of ICT tools and artificial intelligence (AI) can immensely contribute to the teaching and learning and can provide new opportunities for out-of-school children, however it doesn’t mean that advanced technologies will completely replace the traditional ways of teaching and that human interaction will be depreciated.   

More detailed information about the webinar is available on the ASPnet website.