The Just ordains bad things for some good, Do not think He does it for evil. Let us see what Allah does, whatever He does, he does it well.
Ibrahim Hakki Erzurumi Hadhrat
For a long time, we were watching coronavirus from afar, with some anxiety and fear.
It had been around us but had not reached us. Then finally, the virus, as expected, spread to our country. There seems to be nothing to fear for now. But it will not stay that way, there will be other cases over time, and this will do great harm not only to human health but also to the economy. But no matter what, we need to project calmness and restraint by avoiding exaggerated approaches.
Bahrain’s government took a wise decision and suspended all educational institutions, including schools, universities and colleges for two weeks to prevent Covid-19 from spreading across the country easily on February 25. Otherwise, it would have made the situation terrible in Bahrain like in Europe.
For example, action to prevent contagion was taken very late in Italy, so things became really critical. Then, the suspension of all private and public schools and universities was extended by two more weeks until March 29. It was a right and vital decision to close all schools and universities in time.
Moreover, online teaching models by using different kinds of applications such as TEAMS and Zoom have been applied across the country, and teaching and learning have not stopped and it has brought the classroom environment to our homes. Lessons have been broadcast to students via a national TV channel and are also uploaded to YouTube. So, students are able to continue their education in the home environment.
It is also very important to have the necessary equipment and good Internet connection to implement such a system all over the country. Of course, there have been some problems regarding connection and not having enough equipment such as computers or laptops. Despite all these problems, all students, teachers and educators have been doing their best to teach and learn.
I strongly believe that online education can strengthen students’ individual accountability because it is based on constructing their individual learning. This will reinforce students’ ability to do something in their own interest. Contrary to common belief, a home environment will not decrease students’ concentration, it will increase it as well as the motivation.
Students should concentrate more to understand because they will learn to ignore the stimuli around them. This will develop their ability to control their minds which will be very useful for their lives. In addition, these students can acquire important skills about using technology including mobile technology without going to schools or universities, with their personal efforts – of course, they can consult their teachers/instructors whenever they need.
They can mobilise to learn all the sources of knowledge and ultimately reach their goals. Actually, this is exactly constructivist approach to learning. This system will change the roles of traditional education methods in which students are passive learners, and will make them active learners constructing their own knowledge.
Moreover, online learning from home will eliminate some issues such as transportation, eating, and taking rest. I believe that students will be less stressed and tired – maybe at the beginning they will feel exhausted – but more comfortable and healthier. One of my students said: “It is awesome to learn in bed”. Online education can provide less hierarchy, fewer rules, restrictions and less anxiety and pressure. In other words, there is more freedom, more experience, more mobility in online education. In addition, since many of expenditures made in schools will decrease, the more effective and less costly online education will contribute to the country’s economy too.
We think and hope that online education will not continue the whole year. But of course, it also has disadvantages. However, all these negative sides can be solved. For example, some students may not have the minimum facilities required for online education. I strongly believe that the government will offer permanent solutions.
This is a good chance to test a future online education system.
Dr Funda Ornek is Associate Professor in Science Education and Head of Maths, Science and ICT Ed Department, at Bahrain Teachers College, University of Bahrain