It reminds a scenario of the worst horror movie, when all the world is captured by the deathly virus and all the economy is in collapse, just rare people dare to go out in masks hoping to get something to feed themselves and their families.
If we were told a few years or even months ago that we are going to live it, nobody would believe. How comes? The whole world, the whole economy just stopped in a blink of an eye, people leaving their works and being afraid to take a breath, searching in panic for more proofs of the coming disaster and the number of the deaths which are expected to increase every coming day.
Everything looks like frozen, stopped – education, work, production, communication, we all keep social distancing, “Stay home or you will die” that is the slogan of nowadays. Just from different corners of the world news about closures is coming, and we try to check out our friends and family members on their health and the matter of facts in their places.
Well, in this situation of the world closure what are we ready for and what to look for in our future?
Work and Social Security
The global closure proved that no business is secure, no matter which sector you are working in, everything can come to collapse all of a sudden by the decision, coming from the above in one day.
The mechanism of inflaming global panic is much more stronger than any war or economic embargoes in its ability to ruin everything, or to bring something on the top and to diminish others.
This is the most powerful mechanism to evoke our inner biological fears and instincts, serving to protect our lives. To run or to kill, – empathy and compassion are from the other story which is not about us today. According to Maslow’s hierarchy they refer to the upper levels, yet, if the lower levels for security are satisfied. Inflaming global panic refers to our lowest biological needs and evoke our basic needs and instincts, in this state people are ready for everything to protect themselves, to get their piece of bread. Rational thinking cannot be expected in this state, the actions which are unthinkable under normal conditions e.g. attacking, fighting for the tinies things, can easily burst out if the “enemy” is pointed, if the one to blame is showed to the crowd. With the mass pressure on minds from media people get more in panic, following the imposed patterns of behaviour and following the mainstreams of the decision-making.
It is hard to predict what is going to happen tomorrow but this forced break in the world’ economic relations will doubtfully bring benefits to our well-being.
No need to say that the topic of e-learning has been widely researched, developed and implemented for many decades already. But is it enough to turn all schools to online learning? Are our teachers, school managements and our students ready for it?
In a wink of an eye we have been forced to start distance education or online teaching, pushed out from our traditional classroom settings. Are we really ready for it? It is rather no, than yes.
As a temporary measure for one week or so to deliver some assignments, get them done and sent back for the evaluation can be a solution to cover the gap. But surely, with such kind of learning there is nothing to say about the quality and consistency of learning.
In this state of emergency we have to realise that we still lack competences of using technologies, interacting online, designing efficient content materials, which would be applicable for the ample teaching online.
Despite all the attempts to introduce online education as widely as possible there is still resistance among all educational stakeholders. It is caused by the fact, and we have to admit it, that current models of distance education and online learning are still unable to compensate alive communication and interaction between teachers and students. That is the area where we should work at, exploring the technological potentials to assure every student’s personal involvement in learning process. Otherwise, lack of the personal contact, and consequently, loss of the learning motivation bring to the failure of all endeavours of the best content developers.
Skills We Need to Look for Future
The situation which we all experience now is helpful to realise who we are, where our place is in this life and in this world, and where we are heading.
First of all it is crucial to stress that in spite of all political borders our world is the small village where everybody is connected, and no problem is the problem of one people or one country. We are all connected environmentally, economically and politically. We live in the same space and should become fully aware of the responsibility we carry for each other. We can take measures of social distancing, visa restrictions, economic embargoes or political boycott, but it does not mean that these measures won’t affect third parties, seemingly not involved in the problem.
Therefore, the responsibility and awareness of a global citizen is a must to bring up within ourselves and our students. With this, the empathy and compassion for others is a indispensable feature to nourish and keep up, no matter what is going on in the outer world. It is important to remember that any time we can be in the place of those who suffer now, and they need a hand to battle their troubles and survive, the same as we would need someone near us for help.
Critical thinking is another important skill to develop. Its importance has been stressed widely but its real significance remains to be underestimated.
Trainings and techniques for the skills of critical thinking, if not neglected and regarded as important, have not been yet developed and implemented enough to teach our students to be able to analyse the situations and conditions objectively. Being influenced and brainwashed by masses of media posts people tend to follow the flow without critical analysis of the reality and the sources of information.
Entrepreneurship skills are the ones to develop, no matter which sector we work it. These skills involve abilities to analyse economic situations, market needs and predict the outcomes of the current situations as well as their affects upon local and global economies.
Based on the analysis of the economic situation and changing conditions it is important to be able to produce an offer which would meet the needs of the market, either locally or globally. In this sense it is crucial to develop such an offer which would be based upon a clear business plan, considering its economic effects, risks and possible solutions to avoid the failures.
Flexibility and adaptability is another must to develop. As we are living in the world which is constantly changing, we must learn to adjust our skills and abilities to the current needs, or to learn new things to add to the present competences and to enhance our abilities to survive.
Nowadays traditional education is being criticised for its rigidness, the professions, which our students are trained for, are no longer in need due to the changing economies, markets and industries.
After graduation, university students cannot get employed to work according to their diplomas, – with wasted time, energy and financial resources they cannot find a place to apply their knowledge and skills gained in the universities. In this sense the whole system should undergo significant changes as well as our students need to be trained to be ready to cope with the challenges of present economies and markets.
It concerns not only young generations of the university students but it is even more important for the middle-aged and those who are coming to the age of the retirement. Trainings for new skills for updating their competences up to the modern societal and technological changes are crucial for revitalising their work engagement, social involvement and life satisfaction.
And the last to mention, but surely not the least in the list is the technological competences. The skills to communicate, collaborate and to work online are vital for nowadays. If some years before a set of skills to cope with the computer and social media were enough, today we face the necessity to develop much more sophisticated skills of using available technologies, searching for new technological solutions, abilities to adjust them to life and work settings, skills to develop original e-contents, and communicate them to other communities.
Instead of Conclusion
Being all affected by the current world processes in our life styles, economies, careers and relations it is a wish for all of us to stay strong, being able to look at the situation realistically.
We all hope that conditions will stabilise soon, at the same time giving a lesson for us to be more prepared for the global challenges in future.
Prof. Dr. Iryna Sekret