A reflection on the first non-face-to-face learning

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The existing online learning resources for K-12 education, Home of Learning and Television for Education, have been mandated to support the policy. The Home of Learning hosts thousands of learning objects supported by the association of Indonesian teachers and educational practitioners. In addition, a number of prominent education startups also offer free access for K-12 students. For university, the government offers a number of online learning schemes including the public access learning management system and the opportunity of student’s virtual mobility by taking online courses from other universities.

Responding to the COVID-19 incident, Education and Culture has enacted a series of policies to ease the learning process of K-12 education and higher education. Those policies include the cancellation of school national assessment for K-12 education and the support of study-from-home for all students including the university. The K-12 school and university have been given more freedom to take necessary actions to deliver the quality of learning process on one hand and the prevention of the COVID-19 outbreak on the other hand. Online (distance) learning is the only available method to be used for supporting the study from home policy.

However, student, school and university capacities to take these opportunities are divided and limited to those who have experienced blended learning. Few universities have experienced blended learning using their own learning management system. The K-12 education profile is quite similar or even less. Furthermore, digital literacy only covers little percent of the population, meaning blended learning would be unlikely to provide the equitable access and privileges to online learning. As the majority of student and education institutions still rely on the face-to-face method, this sudden shift would not be easy for them.

Aside from these challenges there are remarkable opportunities for schools to adopt online learning due to its major benefits of flexibility, effectiveness, and efficiency in terms of resource allocation. However, there is still a concern regarding the advancement of psychometric and affective domains that need hands-on learning experiences and personal engagement. Nonetheless the COVID-19 incident has created an opportunity for online learning to promisingly become a widely acceptable pedagogical method.

The COVID-19 pandemic is certainly one of the most devastating problems that we face today. Everyone is affected by the pandemic. The difference is how and to what extent you are affected. Education is key to the long-term solution that we need. Yet, we are facing issues particularly with young children in poorer countries who must stay out of school with very little support. Life is certainly different where the infrastructure enables you to continue, diversify, and innovate your day-to-day task online. Here lies the challenge for ensuring access and equity to every individual. The government has an important role to play.

The government has taken some good measures by ensuring: greater transparency with regard to data and measures taken; efficient communication and enforcement, varied support that promotes greater economic equity. Likewise, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education are working towards introducing measures to ensure that the education process is not disrupted. Children at all levels from early childhood to university students and adult learners are studying from home through various mechanisms. (There is a concern for the support in the rural areas, but currently there is not enough information for now).

Meanwhile, the experience at an individual level whether you are a student, an academic staff, or a support staff depends on several factors such as personality, home environment, work situation and others as all of us are now working from home. If you are a student, you would also need to study from home.

This suits some and is challenging for others as individual need for space and social interactions differs. The situation at home can also be different, comfortable for some and challenging for others. At the university, the work environment is certainly not the same. Academic staff are faced with additional tasks of conducting additional synchronous forum sessions and creating additional learning material to support learners. This is important. What is clear is that the need for support and assurance among staff is equally crucial as it is among learners. By LILIBETH ESCALO

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