10 February 2021

Research pick: Educating in the time of Covid - "Web-based community-supported online education during the COVID-19 pandemic"

The Inderscience Research Picks this week will focus on how online resources are helping people cope in different ways with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Each day, we will highlight and discuss a paper from the publication the International Journal of Web-based Communities (Issue 1, volume 17, 2021)

Education has in many ways suffered terribly in the wake of the pandemic. Students have been forced into remote learning situations often in environments that are not entirely conducive to learning. This is particularly acute where the housing is crowded or access to the internet and technology such as computers is limited. Commonly, both problems are present for the same students. Young people can often bounce back from problems in ways adults might not, but too many problems in their path can nevertheless lead to long-term issues.

Nataliia Morze of the Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University in Ukraine and Eugenia Smyrnova-Trybulska of the University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland, have looked at the initiatives of private firms, society, and communities in Ukraine and Poland in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and with regard to secondary and higher education. They write that the effects on students and the opportunities available to them or otherwise are very different depending on their position in society in terms of economics, family situation, housing, and health. It might be said, that those in a more “privileged” environment will be able to adopt the alternative learning opportunities more readily while those from economically vulnerable sections of the population may not be so fortunate. The detrimental effect of socioeconomics could ultimately widen the educational divide and thence the economic divisions in society.

The new work looks at how, given access to the internet, how web-based communities might mitigate the lack of face to face meetings between students and their teachers. They ask whether we are in a time of transition that might help us work through the current pandemic and make us more prepared for the next similar crisis that emerges.

Based on their analysis of practices and experiences, the team has found ten core elements they suggest are crucial to effective online education in an emergency of the kind the Covid-19 pandemic, and future pandemics, presents.

  • Ensuring reliable network infrastructure
  • Using friendly learning tools
  • Providing interactive suitable digital learning resources
  • Guiding learners to apply effective learning methods
  • Promoting effective methods to organize instruction by adopting a range of teaching strategies
  • Providing instant support services for teachers and learners
  • Empowering the partnership between governments, enterprises, and schools
  • Allowing the crisis to drive innovation
  • Developing online and blended learning
  • Making online education a strategic priority

Morze, N. and Smyrnova-Trybulska, E. (2021) ‘Web-based community-supported online education during the COVID-19 pandemic’, Int. J. Web Based Communities, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp.9–34.

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