A look into the not too distant future: Point of view from a Bahraini Academician.
In December 2019, two global pandemics emerged. The first one is of course the COVID-19 outbreak with so far over 13 million reported cases around the world and around 575,000 deaths. The second epidemic is no less serious, having disrupted the lives of over 2 billion students around the world. It is the ‘epidemic’ of internet-based online distant learning – a shift from the traditional teaching in closed classrooms. Both these pandemics have changed lives everyone around the world forever. We are unlikely to ever go back to the way we used to live, work, think, communicate and study before the COVID-19 era.
Recent reports suggest that the Coronavirus pandemic is likely to reach its plateau in most countries within the coming few weeks and as in all previous outbreaks, it will start to fall. However, in my opinion, the online teaching epidemic will continue to rise and rise and may never decline again; as educational institutions have discovered that in comparison to classroom, face to face lectures, teaching via internet is in many circumstances more effective. It increases the retention of information and is perceived to be more fun by students, resulting in long lasting educational changes that are here to stay, not only during the COVID-19, era but even beyond.
So where do we see the current use of technology taking us in the post COVID-19 era? My prediction is that lectures will be converted from face to face to online delivery techniques. Webinars will be used to deliver interactive lectures, seminars, workshops and tutorial sessions. Similarly, assessment and evaluation tasks for the students will be transformed into suitable online formats.
The irony is that the survival of educational institutions in the aftermath of the COVID-19 era will largely depend on their ability to cope with the technological challenges needed for this online learning paradigm. Blended learning will be a strategic priority while digital transformation of education will redefine the vision and mission of every educational institution.
In Bahrain, just like the rest of the world, educational establishments which can keep pace with these changes will survive, while those who cannot will remain in the past and never be part of the future.
Dr. Khaldoon Al-Roomi
Department of Family and Community Medicine,
College of Medicine and Medical Sciences,
Arabian Gulf University,
Kingdom of Bahrain.