The REFAD 2022 Grand Gathering opened with a conference by Cathia Papi, professor at TÉLUQ University. Her presentation focused on the place of distance education in the world of education and the workplace. She reviewed the history of distance education and presented the main challenges of this practice.
Indeed, prior to the pandemic, distance education was considered an option for some institutions and organizations. During the pandemic, however, distance education became the only option to maintain the link between the educational institution and the learner. Few people were prepared for such a sudden paradigm shift, Papi said.
Cathia Papi identifies four major areas that have been profoundly changed by distance learning:
1. The technology
During the health crisis, many teachers and educational actors faced a lack of equipment or skills to use them. Some found it difficult to appropriate new tools and to use them for teaching purposes. For learners, the difficulty was also felt when applying the new technological tools for learning purposes.
2. The training
Because the pandemic caught everyone unawares, the staff responsible for training did not have the necessary distance to adapt their usual practices very quickly to the remote context imposed by the pandemic. This had an impact on the work of the teachers. The lack of guidance given to learners at the beginning of the pandemic caused inequalities in learning, resulting in a lack of autonomy on their part.
3. The accompaniment
This aspect was probably the most neglected at the beginning. Indeed, since contact was only made at a distance, teachers found it difficult to stay in constant contact with learners and to respond to their more individual needs. Some learners, already struggling, saw their chances of success diminish because of this lack of proximity to their teachers and sometimes even to their peers.
4. The evaluation
Since the assessments were done remotely, they became less reliable. Indeed, the teachers had no view on the learners who could mismanage their time or simply cheat. The lack of face-to-face time limited teachers in their assessment methods and it became redundant for some.
While the pandemic has had its share of unforeseen events, it has been a major turning point in so-called traditional educational practices. Indeed, teachers were forced to adopt innovative digital practices in order to foster learning while keeping learners motivated and open to learning. Online training has been provided in order to learn as much as possible in the shortest possible time. Today, distance learning has become a normal way of learning, allowing people to juggle several professional activities without having to travel," said Ms. Papi.
Held from June 7 to 10, 2022, the Grand rassemblement du REFAD 2022 welcomed distance education stakeholders such as instructional designers, online course design managers and media specialists, as well as students and professors, members and non-members of REFAD. The virtual event was presented as a conciliabule of distance education actors in French-speaking Canada in order to reflect on current issues in the field, particularly in the context of the end of the health crisis.
To review Ms. Papi's presentation. Her presentation and the chat notes are also available on the event website.