The REFAD Grand Gathering 2022 was opened with a conference by Cathia Papi, Professor at TÉLUQ University. His lecture focused on the importance of distance learning in the world of education and work. She explored the history of distance learning and presented the main challenges of this practice.
In fact, prior to the pandemic, distance learning was considered a choice that certain institutions and organizations opted for. However, during the pandemic, this proved to be the only way to maintain the connection between the educational institution and the learners. Few people were prepared for such an abrupt paradigm shift, Mrs. Papi recalled.
Cathia Papi identifies four major areas that have fundamentally changed as a result of distance learning:
During the health crisis, several teachers and educational stakeholders faced a lack of equipment or skills to use it. Some found it difficult to learn new tools and use them for teaching purposes. For learners, the difficulty was also felt in applying new technological tools for learning purposes.
Since the pandemic had taken everyone by surprise, the staff responsible for training did not have the necessary perspective to very quickly adapt their usual practices to the remote context imposed by the pandemic. This affected the work of teachers. The lack of guidelines given to learners at the beginning of the pandemic created inequalities in learning, leading to a lack of autonomy on their part.
This aspect was probably the most neglected in the beginning. Because contact was only made at a distance, teachers found it difficult to stay in constant touch with learners and meet their more individual needs. Some learners who are already struggling have seen their chances of success diminished by this lack of closeness with their teachers and sometimes even with their peers.
Being conducted remotely, the assessments have lost their reliability. In fact, the teachers had no view of the learners, who might mismanage their time or simply cheat. The lack of face-to-face teaching has limited teachers in their assessment methods and, for some, has become redundant.
Although the pandemic has had its share of unforeseen events, it has been a major turning point in so-called traditional educational practices. In fact, teaching staff have been forced to adopt innovative digital practices to encourage learning while maintaining learners’ motivation and openness to learning. Online training has been granted to learn the maximum of things in the shortest possible time. Distance learning has now become a normal form of learning, allowing people to juggle multiple jobs without having to travel, argued Ms. Papi in conclusion.
The 2022 REFAD Grand Gathering, presented June 7-10, 2022, welcomed distance learning stakeholders such as instructional designers, online course design managers and media specialists, but also students and teachers, members and non-members of REFAD. The virtual event was presented as a meeting of distance learning stakeholders in French-speaking Canada to reflect on current issues in the field, particularly related to overcoming the health crisis.
To review Ms. Papi’s presentation. His presentation and chat notes are also available on the event website.