Education has continued throughout the UK’s COVID-19 lockdowns and in light of the government’s plans to bring all pupils back to the classroom on March 8th in England, I’ve spoken to a Science teacher about the challenges posed and opportunities provided by online learning.

Dr Naorin Sharmin is a Science teacher, Year 12 tutor and Learning Leader. She has been one of the many teachers who have been working tirelessly to move education online. 

With all lessons now being run through Google Meet, Dr Sharmin spoke about the ways in which she has changed her style of teaching in order to adapt to this new medium of education: she engages students by asking “lots of questions”, which makes for a more interactive online experience.

With the introduction of new technologies and software to improve the interactivity of online learning, Dr Sharmin believes that this has “changed my teaching” as everything becomes “like one massive book which everyone’s working on together!”

Even though interactivity amongst students has improved since its introduction, remote education is not a permanent phenomenon: “I don’t think you can ever replace the 1 to 1 - it’s not just about learning science, it’s about learning social skills, and this is something which I don’t think that we’re really getting through an online learning environment”.

Nevertheless, positives can be taken from the online experience - Dr Sharmin says that she has been interacting with parents and students, which has added to a great sense of “community” spirit and togetherness. 

Also, Dr Sharmin speaks about how lockdown has encouraged her to transmit the “bigger picture” to students - “we want students to get the best results in their exams… but it’s not just about the exams - my language has been changing when I’m teaching”. For example, Dr Sharmin explains that instead of using the word “examiner”, she encourages students to think in the context of when they “will be working in the pharmaceutical industry”.

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a colossal challenge to education, the founding principles and purpose of education remains distinct - online teaching is not just about learning, but a place where students can share ideas and feel “enthused about learning”.