Challenges and opportunities for teaching and learning practices from the Covid-19 pandemic

"We saw a spectacular growth of teachers' ICT skills. What normally can be achieved in 5 to 6 years, we have reached in the Netherlands in about 7 months", Eric Welp, Kennisnet.

While 2020 is gone, the operation of schools across Europe is long from being back to normal in the beginning of the new year. Ministries and regional authorities definitely face challenges with the question of how to organise school attendance safely and efficiently but there have been positive opportunities deriving from moving towards alternative teaching and learning methods. The European Schoolnet webinar organised for policy makers on this topic put a particular focus on first lessons learned in the Netherlands and Spain.

In many European countries a huge effort is made to keep schools open and operational as much as possible. Generally, three different scenarios are to be put in place, depending on the current numbers of corona cases. The first scenario is that all students are in school, the second is a blended learning scenario that combines face-to-face and remote teaching. Finally, the last is distance learning with school premises being closed and online teaching and learning. Usually, primary schools are kept open as much as possible and hybrid learning scenarios are more likely to be offered at secondary school level. .

However, even where and when schools are open, many new questions arise as both teachers and students can be in quarantine or sick at home. Other challenges include the difficulty to find replacement teachers, the fear of being infected, and the lack of digital skills.

The way teaching is organised has rapidly adapted in many countries, like in the Netherlands. The use of tools like Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom has risen rapidly and is now also integrated in teaching. Moreover, both formative and digital assessment are on the rise, and there is a growing awareness of GDPR issues. However, big differences persist between schools and even between teachers, and sometimes teachers still have trouble in reaching individual students.

Ministries provide a lot of support to the school communities by purchasing electronic devices for schools in need, providing websites and resources for remote teaching (such as the lesopafstand website of the Netherlands and the Ministry of Education website of Croatia), as well as providing training via online webinars.

@Kennisnet poster on how to use cameras safely in classrooms.

@Kennisnet poster on how to use cameras safely in classrooms.