Another dot in the blogosphere?

14 days vs 14 years

Posted on: January 28, 2020

Singapore has a 14-day advisory leave-of-absence for students and teachers returning from trips to China. This is a measure to curb the spread of the 2019-nCoV or Wuhan coronavirus.

My tweet links to a Today article, but this CNA article is more detailed.

Side note 1: It is frustrating to find so many news and “news” returns when Googling for sources and nothing from official sites. The ministries needs to learn about search engine optimisation.

Side note 2: I drafted this reflection yesterday and so my claim is accurate as of the tweeted news release. Official sites may have been updated by now, but then that is still too late.

Back to the 14-day leave-of-absence. While inconvenient, it is a prudent measure given how not containing the disease is worse. So my mind wanders away from the possible social, geographical, or economic impacts of such an advisory.

Instead I recall an educator who shared how he had tried to push for online and e-learning in his school in Thailand. His peers and higher-ups saw little need because schooling was still valued as a face-to-face act.

But when the region he was in suffered severe flooding, his “blue sky” efforts suddenly became a lifesaver for less interrupted schooling. At the time, I think he jokingly called it calamity-based learning.

In Singapore, we now have the Student Learning Spaces (SLS) for home-based learning. But it is still peripheral instead of core; exceptional instead of mundane. The SLS in no way competes with or replaces bread-and-butter classes. If it did, we might question why kids need to go to school (other than to socialise and share disease).

This year marks my 31st as an educator. In the last 14 years I have had the qualifications and work in the area of online and e-learning. It has taken that long to see a small but important blip on the schooling and educational radar.

Viruses spread fast (as do falsehoods about the same) thanks to technology. But people learn and respond much more slowly, if at all. What is 14 days compared to 14 years?

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