Warren Buckleitner: What will change as a result of the pandemic
April 14, 2020
For Part 2 of the Voices on the Future of Childhood series, we asked experts to take a stab at predicting the future by offering their thoughts on “What will change in the coming months and/or years as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Better teaching, and rethinking Maslow’s Hierarchy
Warren Buckleitner is Founding Editor of Children’s Technology Review and Visiting Assistant Professor at the College of New Jersey.
I have good news and bad news.
Good news: Better teaching, better learning. It took a microscopic virus to accomplish what years of in-service sessions couldn’t—to move nearly every teacher in the world into distance learning mode in a few weeks. I’m one of those teachers now using tools like Zoom, Canvas, and Google Docs to engage my students in innovative ways, like including their pets in class and taking advantage of the expertise of parents who may have interesting insight on a topic. This new form of remote pedagogy, when mixed with traditional methods, will make back-to-school 2021 better.
Bad news: Coronavirus gives us a stark example of the digital divide. I was prepared for an extended quarantine with my family. My iPad was already loaded with apps for my 18-month-old grandson (his favorites are Sago Mini Forest Flyer and My Very Hungry Caterpillar), and my daughter’s robust cable modem handled the load of four busy professionals. The digital realm is keeping us entertained and connected. We virtually attended a library’s story hour and have been playing Animal Crossing on our Nintendo Switch; our Oculus Quest has been in constant use delivering immersive 360 videos, and my grandson plays hide-and-seek with great-grandma’s nose via Facetime. But we’re lucky ones. His other great-grandma isn’t so digitally adept, making her physical and social isolation especially harsh. And beyond providing community and entertainment, it is crystal clear now that staying connected means staying afloat: without a computer and Wi-Fi, gone are the options for working from home (and continuing to earn a paycheck), ordering groceries, paying bills, and staying in touch with family. This connectivity is a post-pandemic basic need, alongside such things as food, shelter, and safety, per Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
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