The coronavirus, COVID-19, has arrived to Antigua and Barbuda. A woman traveled here on a flight from the United Kingdom carrying the virus on March 10, 2020. Since her arrival, she has remained in self-isolation at her family’s home, but fear has spread on the island.
With recommendations from the Ministry of Education, my university suspended classes for the next seven to ten days. Primary and secondary schools are now closed for at least the next month to prevent an outbreak. The shift to eLearning has started.
ELearning involves using computer-based training, mobile applications, social platforms, instructor-led online classes, and other technological methods to teach students.
As schools close around the world, this is the time to use eLearning technologies to meet the needs of online education options. Families without internet access in their homes will need alternative resources to supplement their education. I am hopeful that schools will rise to meet the challenges of this infectious disease.
Last month I shared a post explaining my utltralearning adventure with instructional design. One of the samples in my portfolio derives from my work as a faculty member in the Education Enhancement Department at the American University of Antigua College of Medicine. After speaking with my department's chair this week, I am confident that additional instructional design projects are coming soon.
Last Friday evening, an email message from my university’s provost conveyed our preventative actions to reduce the chances for spreading the coronavirus on the campus. He informed the students, staff, and faculty about the suspension of lectures and small group classes. Students cannot arrange study sessions with more than four students at any time in the library or at any location on campus.
Despite social distancing, teaching and learning will not stop. Remote options begin next week. We are rising to meet the coronavirus challenge.
Google classroom is one of the eLearning resources available to provide tutoring and general instruction. Through the Google classroom platform, teachers can create assignments and provide real-time feedback. Students can submit assignments and interact with their peers. Administrators can observe the learning process.
During this season, as classes remain closed, I am creating virtual instructor-led classes for students enrolled in my course. These online classes will use the Microsoft Teams’ platform to cover the materials that we planned to address in-person. With internet access in the privacy of their homes, students will continue along with the course objectives outlined in our first meeting and the syllabus.
I am sure that teachers around the world are adopting a similar model to prevent students from falling behind in the curriculum.
Despite the impact of the coronavirus on our schools, educators must use their creativity, talents, skills, and the internet to prevent additional delays in teaching and learning. We must send our students home with books and assignments. When internet access is available, we can provide links to educational videos, online quizzes, and other resources to supplement in-class instruction.
My long term plan in case Antigua schools close for the year includes using Articulate’s authoring tools to build additional courses. I have experience with Studio, Rise, and 360 Storyline to create a computer-based curriculum. Building from the PowerPoint slides created in previous semesters, I can edit content for synchronous, live online classes, and asynchronous, web-based or pre-recorded learning options.
I am determined to serve my academic and martial art students despite the pandemic. The eLearning mentioned above options will meet the needs of the university. Students I teach in Capoeira have access to free Facebook Live videos and these digital instructional lessons.
Benjamin Bloom, the deceased educational psychologist, is responsible for creating the learning model that many teachers use to organize their lesson plans. Each pier of Bloom’s Taxonomy expands on approaches to improve teaching and maximize learning. The goal within the Bloom model is to move students from remembering facts to a position where they can create new forms of knowledge and apply their skills.
Whether online or in-person classes, creating learning objectives guided by Bloom’s Taxonomy can enable knowledge application among students.
Here in Antigua, the Ministry of Education has recommended several platforms to provide a remote school experience. Google Classroom, IXL Personalized Learning, and Edmodo are among the eleven options. Each of these options has strengths and weaknesses in providing engaging and informative lessons.
I saw a meme this week that read, you want my professor who can't stop the autoplay loop on YouTube, to now teach online classes- this may be interesting! This meme is funny, but a serious challenge for educators with limited experiences in technology. We need to offer virtual training to help instructors provide valuable teaching to a virtual community.
Patience is mandatory for students and educators during this transitional phase.
I hope that students will be in a position to take advantage of eLearning options. The majority of the students enrolled at my university have families in the United States and Canada. Reports of limited food, toilet paper, disinfectant products, and other essentials in US stores have some of our students concerned about the well-being of their families.
I have received reports of some students leaving the island to be with their families in their home countries.
For students remaining on the island, they are occupied with stories of their families back home and in the current circumstances of their lives abroad. In addition to schools, public gatherings, including sports events, parties, and other recreational activities, are banned in Antigua. The store shelves are not as full as the pre-coronavirus days.
Stress influences our abilities to learn. Research has proven that when we are stressed out or concerned about things other than learning, we do not do well in absorbing new information. Negative emotions produce negative learning outcomes.
It is always best to deal with personal and other issues before sitting down to read, watch a video, participate in class, or engage in other learning activities. Putting yourself in a good mood and being mindful of your learning goals can increase the quality of your knowledge and skill acquisition endeavors.
To modify the late legend Bob Marley’s words to fit our conversation, don’t worry about a ting, be happy, and learn more. Emotions influence our abilities to learn.
The way we feel and think are interrelated.
Mindful meditation, prayer, writing, talking with a friend, and exercising are among the healthy options you possess to manage stress. Your goal in alleviating stress to learn should not include ignoring the situation. Acknowledge the coronavirus, do your best to control the fear and other emotions; take a moment for yourself and return to learning.
Despite the reporting of only one case in Antigua and Barbuda, families throughout the county are taking precautions. My wife is homeschooling our children. We have adequate food, but my wife and I are eating less to conserve resources and support our children's nutritional needs.
Our island depends on imports. According to one report, Antigua has a ten-day food supply in the event of an emergency. If the border becomes closed like Canada, a significant number of products, food, and other goods will not get re-stocked.
In spite of the coronavirus, we are hopeful our borders will remain open without adverse health effects to the population.
Educators, students, administrators, and other members of the community must combine resources to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We must unite to work towards creating multiple education options and providing comfort during this challenging season. If you’re in education, do your best to provide an eLearning option.
Stay healthy wherever you are in this world. Find a senior citizen to ask if they need anything- seniors are the most vulnerable population to contract the coronavirus. My positive thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. God bless you, and thank you for reading.
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