EDUCATION

Redefining Online Education: A Strategic Policy Approach

Education Policy as we know it has been reverberating in the last few years and what we have come to know as Face-to-face teaching and learning is gradually becoming unfashionable. This disruption, which has been occasioned by the COVID-19 outbreak, has raised calls for the necessity of getting policy right towards the effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of online education. A new policy for online education must address several critical areas: infrastructure, accessibility factor, curriculum development, teacher trains and education and quality issues. In this article, the author discusses the main stages of creating such a policy and its purpose – transformation of online education.

1. Infrastructure Development

A good framework for digital operations is a prerequisite for any efficient system of online education. The new policy has to focus on creating and improving the conditions of digital communication in urban and rural regions. This includes:

  • High-Speed Internet Access: For all student and educators to have access to a dependable and high speed internet is important. One of the ways that the government and or other private sectors can come in and we fund the expansion of broadband networks to these areas.
  • Digital Devices: Availability of cheap or low-cost devices like laptops and tablets that the students especially the economically challenged ones can afford to buy or perhaps are provided by the government or other funding bodies.
  • Technical Support: Setting up of help desks that would offer support to learners and instructors in matters that have to do with use of technologies can help avoid instances where learning is disrupted.

2. Accessibility and Inclusivity

This means that, the devised policy must be able to allow students involved in online education to have equal access to their education regardless of their ability to pay for it, their location or disability statuses. Key measures include:

  • Financial Aid and Scholarships: Provision of online education to poor students through loan facilities, scholarships and other grants.
  • Special Needs Accommodation: Offering and creating materials and instruments for teaching that are appropriate for any student, including students with (Special Needs / Learning Disabilities ). This can include text to speech software, or what most people refer to as ‘the talking rate’, people who use sign language as their mode of communication, and other forms of software that enable the partially blind to ‘see’.
  • Multilingual Content: Developing educational content in different languages for students to eliminate the problem of language barrier in the process of learning.

3. Curriculum Development and Adaptation

The location-based education policy should therefore stress the need for an appropriate, fit-for-purpose, good and service that can only be offered via the digital mode. This involves:

  • Interactive Learning Modules: Embedding video contents and quiz, simulation, games elements into the teaching content and activities to better engage and facilitate student learning.
  • Regular Updates: They must ensure that the curriculum gets to be reviewed periodically in regard to current advancement in different fields of study, the technology, as well as methodologies used in the different fields of study.
  • Personalized Learning: Through data analysis: using the best tools in the application of analytics, and incorporating potentially advanced artificial intelligence to promote customized learning to the student participants, including their learning preferences, rate, and methodologies.

4. Pre and In-service Teacher Education

Teachers can be considered as the important machinery of the education system and its success in delivering the online education mainly depends on teachers. The policy should focus on:

  • Professional Development Programs: A constantly providing professional development opportunities so that teachers engage themselves in training that is needed to be a successful online teacher. Examples of professional development are knowledge of the information technology skills, and instructional methods necessary for online education, and learner interactions.
  • Certification and Incentives: Developing certification courses for distance education and offering rewards like increased remunerations, appreciation, and promotions for the teachers who take those courses.
  • Support Networks: Providing the opportunity for educators to connect to other educators and groups that are interested in the common practice of turning learning into play.

5. Quality Assurance and Evaluation

Continuity of quality assurance and evaluation for education portals is a challenge hence the need for high standards of quality. The policy should include:

  • Accreditation Standards: Aspiring to set the quality accreditation for online courses and institutions then attempt to meet such quality accreditations.
  • Continuous Assessment: Incorporating the practice of formative assessments and feedback systems to check on the learners’ progress and the e-learning strategies being employed. This could consist of daily to weekly tasks, quick tests as well as checks, reviews by fellow students or the teacher and feedback given by the teacher.
  • Feedback Systems: Developing effective feedback mechanism through which the students and the parents will be in a position to give their opinion regarding the online education system so that necessary changes may be incorporated.

 

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