Students´ challenges during pandemic

By Angelica Mazarí Pineda

Usually, an educational innovation proposal takes at least one semester to be implemented. Due to the health emergency that was unleashed, March 2020, in Mexico, significant changes in education had to be implemented in less than a week. Change immediately all procedures so students could stay at home; use the technology so that teachers and students stay in contact and have parents as a fundamental part of this process. All these changes without a pandemic could have taken years to implement.

The students who are used to onsite education feel secure with what is stable and repeatable, their schedule, their scheduled subjects; attending classrooms, seeing their teachers face to face, are all fundamental parts of their learning. Therefore, making immediate changes to do everything remotely, led the students a feeling of anxiety; lack of security and of course it took time to adapt.

They had to respect their schedules with accuracy, establish sequences in their assignments, plan the delivery of their homework and activities; to make their assignments stable and predictable helped; the student to feel less pressure, following a routine to help both, students and teachers in order for them to adapt faster. By ending the semester in this format from middle March to June; can be affirmed that online education was consolidated, in a certain way, in universities where education was for many years only onsite.

Once this process had been lived, from the beginning of fall semester 2020 a new “normal life”; was already taken as part of the education, that we will all have from now on. Regardless of the processes, authorizations, and systems that are implemented in the different government entities; to grant the necessary licenses to provide online education, the reality is that safeguarding students ́ health will continue to be a priority.

The main concern of teachers and administrative staff at the universities is to continue the emotional connection with the students. That the students feel that they still belong to a group, even though they are no longer in physical contact.

Teachers wonder: How do I connect emotionally with my students? How do I make them feel part of a group when physically they are not in one?

What has to be emphasized is that they continue to be an integral part of their community, that because of the fact of being apart doesn’t ceased to belong to their group, they are made to know that they are missed; that, although they are separated, isolated, there are different ways to be close.

The great effort that the students have made has also been recognized, adapting to work from home, doing their assignments alone and in many cases, they do not have at hand who to ask any questions directly, that is why different channels of direct communication between teachers and students were established, online platform to have the resolution of doubts, deliveries, uploads, etc., so that the students know that they have the support that they have in the classroom.

Now they have a virtual space of expression, this is an alternative, the students still have to be listened; a special space of expressions such as discussion forums, less time for “direct” classes and a greater volume of material, help them to invest their time in an effective way. Based more on a self-learning, changing the paradigm of having to learn directly from the class dictated by the teacher. The guys have also acquired other responsibilities by being now at home or outside of their normal study environment to which they were used, flexibility in schedules and time management for various activities is a competence that they will gradually acquire to continue with adaptation towards a learning environment that will not be able to be face-to-face again, at least in the short term.

The use of online educational platforms is a reality that even institutions that have never taught online programs now have to adapt to change, there is still no clear guideline towards higher education institutions by the government in their educational areas such as “SEP Federal” or state, so the private initiative will continue to create learning experiences, it is not prudent to stop offering quality education, with teachers who share their knowledge, experiences and great content to students so they become prepared professionals, which is what is still needed in the country, with the tools to give their best version of them in the progress of humanity.

Also derived from the pandemic, there are students waiting to go to another country to continue their professional studies. The consequences derived from isolation go as far as the closure of official authorities such as embassies and other entities to be able to process visas for example.

Adaptation and creativity have been the engine for not stopping education,there are students who also carry out their studies online, but now adding a higher degree of difficulty, the difference in the time zone, which makes monitoring even more difficult, however, this has not been an impediment to fight, from the student’s trench, and continue with their professional education.

Investing in education is the future and now we all could improve it, to make the best effort. It is unfortunate that we are in a country that puts any topic on top of education. In some countries there are already open bars, discotheques, make parties, but no one can enter schools, investments in public education has never been enough to have a Mexico with more culture, with advances in education. If we wait for that to happen definitely we will not make any progress in educational issues, so it is up to private education not to lower its guard, continue to design new educational models, react quickly to a new lifestyle as long as we do not stop sowing the best seed we can have to be a better nation, which is education.

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