The challenges faced by schoolchildren have been well documented. Schools were closed; instead lessons were delivered online for some or coursework was handed out with parents required to act as surrogate teachers. Children with over stretched working parents were disadvantaged, children with no internet access were excluded. Many children, mostly in poorer households, received no education at all for the period their school was closed, widening existing social divisions.
The general approach leaned towards trying to deliver existing teaching methods, lessons and coursework, to children at home. Yet here was an opportunity to completely rethink the process.
Emma Duncan, writing in the Times on 2nd January, observed that her daughter had taught herself advanced data management using YouTube. My own son has done the same with CAD/CAM. Many professional bodies have provided online learning content for years. Often these have built-in assessment questionnaires to test comprehension. These results could be channelled back to a teacher who can easily monitor individuals’ “attendance” and comprehension. A lot of this content can be viewed on a mobile phone making it much more widely accessible than computer based learning.
At the moment learning content on video platforms is unstructured, it is there to answer specific questions rather than deliver a set syllabus. But the power of the video platforms is that if the DoE, Ofsted or Exam Boards had (i) produced very detailed syllabi, lesson by lesson, and (ii) approved course content as it became available, then the need for material would soon have been filled by entrepreneurial educators, teachers and schools who can raise their own educational credentials, as well as earn revenue on many platforms from advertising. And competition between contributors will quickly see standards climb to build a world class resource.