(The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Al-Fanar Media).
In mid-March, I started informally documenting the uptake of online learning during the Covid-19 school and university closure in Lebanon. Mostly, I talked to different people affected and listened to their experience. Here are some of my early findings and thoughts, with more to come as the situation continues to unfold and I collect more information. Please get in touch via the comments section below if you find any of the below inaccurate or if you have more feedback and information to share.
The government—trying its best, but will that be ‘remotely’ enough?
In the last couple of weeks, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education launched a National Distance Learning project to provide e-learning support for public schools. Also, in its most recent circular, it announced plans to use our good old national TV channel to air public lessons, complemented with an online form where students can send their questions. The content is now being developed in partnership with the Center for Educational Research and Development and also available on YouTube. Priority has been given to developing content targeting students expected to take the high-stakes national exams very soon. There is no decision yet about if and how these exams, and exams in general, will be administered.
The ministry invited educators from private and public schools to volunteer their time to record lessons. Moreover, it invited education providers to benefit from Microsoft’s offer to use Microsoft Teams, for free, as a tool to engage their students. I found that a bit strange because Microsoft Teams is not a learning management system specifically designed to help educators and students interact in courses. Still, it is an effective collaboration tool to communicate with students, upload relevant documents and files and perhaps even have teachers collaborate among each other.