With an increasing number of states, provinces and even whole countries closing institutions of learning as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 363 million learners worldwide are being impacted (UNESCO, 2020). How can we ensure that valuable time is not lost and our learners at all levels continue to learn wherever they are?
Many countries are planning to offer online learning as an alternative. COL’s experience shows that open, distance and online learning, if done well, can have the same outcomes as campus education without requiring teachers and learners to be in the same place at the same time. However, we recognise that not all schools, colleges and universities are currently well-prepared to fully utilise these approaches, and COL stands ready to share its expertise and resources to enable stakeholders to keep the doors of learning open for all.
In this time of crisis, a suitable response requires a renewed commitment to sharing and re-using open educational resources (OER); exploring novel ways to enable interaction between learners and other learners, learners and teachers, learners and content using online platforms; and to use appropriate technologies so that no one is left behind.
Some guidelines to consider include:
- Institutions should take emergency policy decisions to adopt alternative ways of teaching, including online learning.
- Ensure that learning is delivered using ICT tools such as radio, TV, mobile devices so that no learner is disadvantaged.
- Identify and use existing OER to provide quality learning.
- Develop and implement strategies for synchronous/asynchronous approaches.
- Encourage teachers to use free resources such as MoodleCloud to conduct online classes.
The Commonwealth of Learning (COL), an inter-governmental organisation headquartered in Burnaby, Canada, is committed to promoting learning for sustainable development. It does this through the use of distance learning and online learning technologies. For more than 30 years, COL has used innovative approaches to open the doors of learning not just for formal education but non-formal and informal learning that is accessible, affordable and available to the last person in the queue.
COL will provide technical guidance and support to ministries and institutions seeking support in this effort. Please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources and Tools
COL has compiled a selection of resources and tools as a first response to this crisis.