Quality Education in A COVID-19 Era: Formative Assessment Challenges and Worries of E-Learning
Globally, educational systems have been affected by the corona virus, resulting in school closures in all the affected countries. By March 28th, 2020, it was estimated that over 1.7 billion students were out of school. According to UNESCO monitoring, over 100 countries have implemented nationwide closures, impacting nearly 90% of the world's student population. The worldwide closure of schools has led many schools to introduce the e-learning platform. The worst hit in these categories are women and especially the girl-child who are more susceptible to losing out on education due to poverty, early child marriage, sexual abuse and domestic violence. In the ensuing discussion, I intend to assess the possible disadvantages of E-learning that defeat the purpose of formative assessment, and provide possible solutions to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on quality education.
Education is the process of facilitating learning or the acquisition of knowledge, skills values belief and habits. UNESCO classifies education to be a means of empowerment and transformation. Assessment is at the heart of the teaching and learning process. Formative assessment can be achieved through processes such as sharing criteria with learners, effective questioning and providing constructive feedback. To achieve quality and inclusive education there is the need to consider the impact of teacher use of formative assessment during the teaching and learning process with e- learning.
E-learning is utilizing electronic technologies to access educational curriculum outside of the normal classroom environment by delivering teaching through online platforms. The disadvantages of e-learning are that the feedback students get is limited compared to the normal traditional classroom settings that students get when in class. Another disadvantage of e-learning is that it requires strong self-motivation and time management. In the use of formative assessment in the formal classroom, students are motivated especially with peer- to-peer activities. In order for students to get feedback regarding their performance during the teaching and learning process, teachers need to be proactive for the use of formative assessment to be effective. E-learning is a welcome idea for most people because it provides access to a wider audience.
Child poverty is a universal problem and the use of e-learning is taking over the norms of the normal traditional classroom. E-learning is inaccessible to the less privileged and to the computer illiterate population, particularly the girl-child. How can the mandate of “Leaving no Child Behind” in this era of e-learning be actualised to increase education achievement generally and raise the performance of all students? This is applicable in the Nigerian context as the statistics on out-of-school children and poor completion rates of girls continues to be worrisome.E-learning is limited to some private schools and few privileged government schools where there is internet availability. Many schools in the rural and urban areas suffer from the lack of technological support and lack of expert guidance.
According to the World Bank Report there are millions of children out of school. Acknowledging this impact on girls, the national High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in a statement, stated that “girls globally have less access to the use of internet and cell phones than boys”. Teachers and students should be introduced to the offline e-learning platform to supplement the normal classroom teaching and learning process so that students who do not have access to the internet can benefit. Teachers and students especially the girl-child should be taught how to effectively use technology for instructional practice in the wake of such challenges in our educational system.
For e-learning to be sustainable, provision should be made on how the less privileged can get access to the use of a computer and afford the expenses involved particularly in data accessibility. This can be achieved by sustainable approach to poverty reduction, teacher training to appreciate use of technology and perhaps increasing access to computers and internet by the creation of telecentres.
Blessing Onuora-Oguno holds a B.sc (Ed) from the Ambrose Ali University Ekpoma Nigeria, she is currently an MEd. Student in Assessment and Quality Assurance in Education and Training at the University of Pretoria.