From forced measure to common practice: A leap forward by distance learning

Image by Julia M Cameron: Pexels

Thursday, 23 September 2021, was marked for IITE by hosting a webinar for Russian-speaking teachers, entitled: ‘Ensuring Effective Distance Learning during COVID-19 Disruption’. The live event was well-orchestrated and smoothly held by the Institute in tandem with the Russian State Pedagogical University, St. Petersburg (Herzen University). With over 150 registrations, the online session gathered participants from Belarus, China, Egypt, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Malaysia, Spain, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and Russia.

The webinar initially intended and further managed to handle two key issues impacting the effectiveness of distance education: to identify and review significant factors for effective distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to reveal prerequisites for mitigating the complications of teacher-student online interaction.

The welcoming addresses by the Chair – Dr. Valery Monakhov, Head of the UNESCO Chair at Herzen University; Mr. Fengchun Miao, Chief of the Unit for Technology and Artificial Intelligence in Education at UNESCO HQ; and Ms. Natalia Amelina, Senior National Project Officer in Education at UNESCO IITE, set the positive and encouraging tone of the meeting.

The keynote speech by the honorary guest, Mr. Fengchun Miao, on The Futures of Schooling Models: Building the Neo-Infrastructure for Effective Digital Learning enlightened the webinar participants and attendees on the peculiarities, capacities, and advances of tech-enabled open school systems, while drawing on some insightful realistic country examples to give special priority to dedicated efforts towards ensuring equity and inclusion of distance learning.

With their engaging, consistent, practice-based reports: ‘Teacher-Student Online Interaction: Lessons Learned’ and ‘Effective Distance Learning: Ingredients for Success’, Dr. Aleksandra Kosheleva (Chair of Occupational Psychology) and Dr. Elvira Rebko (Associate Professor, Chair of Social Security) of Herzen University captured the audience’s attention to key distinctive features and benefits of digital education models, to effective micro-, mobile, and personalized learning, and accentuated on the revealed or highly probable challenges, worries, and pitfalls of distance education. With their instantiated appealing presentations, the experts encouraged the audience to exploit all feasible opportunities of technology and distance learning solutions to ensure continuity and improve quality of education not only through, but beyond the pandemic.

The outlined topics were addressed and discussed with due regard to the UNESCO publication: ‘Ensuring effective distance learning during COVID-19 disruption. Guidance for teachers’, developed by the UNESCO Unit for Technology and Artificial Intelligence in Education in collaboration with the Smart Learning Institute of Beijing Normal University. The Russian translation of this comprehensive document had been ensured by meaningful cooperation of UNESCO IITE and Herzen University and shared with all participants right after their online registration.

At the close of the online event, Dr. Valery Monakhov opened the Q&A session to give pride of place to questions, comments and feedback from the webinar participants and attendees.

The outreach event was live streamed on the UNESCO IITE YouTube channel, where the recording of the webinar is now publicly available.