The COVID Education Alliance (COVIDEA) was created in response to one of the most important shortfalls in our society laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic: the educational system(s) is/are not fully adapted to the digital transformations nor equipped to respond to external shocks. The purpose of this initiative is to address the shortcomings of the current education systems made evident by the COVID-19 pandemic and to help those systems adapt to the requirements of a rapidly changing world.
Education communities around the world are working, hand-in-hand, with the technology/engineering communities to devise new curricula and digital solutions adapted to the new conditions. However, it is unclear whether the digital tools and technological options that are being developed are affordable and accessible, nor whether they are targeted to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
By gathering together education and technology experts from all around the world, COVIDEA, an international alliance co-convened by FOGGS and the Platform for Transformative Technologies (P4TT) with the help of the International Science Council, seeks to respond to those questions by creating a platform that gathers, “under one roof,” the best digital educational tools, curricula and technological options available to assist education systems and institutions in adapting to the constraints posed by the pandemic. The initiative also seeks to select the options that are best targeted to the achievement of the SDGs by taking into account considerations such as gender and racial bias, inequality and human rights perspectives, among others. Once identified, these resources should be directed towards processes and initiatives that could potentially have the greatest impact in terms of increasing society’s overall resilience to external shocks and future crises by developing competencies such as adaptability, critical thinking and collaboration, among others.
While digital technology undoubtedly enables communication, collaboration and online education, a more permanent shift to remote learning could exacerbate inequalities if adequate digital tools and technological options are not affordable or easily accessible. The COVIDEA transformative platform aims to make these tools and technological alternatives more accessible within an ethical framework to ensure that they do not undermine the rights to privacy, education and freedom of expression and self-determination of peoples and individuals.
In view of the fact that artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics are advancing very rapidly and they could be used to substitute jobs that require repetitive actions, education must be geared to developing competencies beyond those that were required during the industrial age. Now that we are in the digital age, other capabilities have to be developed including critical thinking and analysis to deal with increasingly complex problems in ways that are ethical and beneficial to humanity.
Overall objective of this initiative
The purpose of this initiative is to leverage digital technologies to better prepare people for a rapidly changing world in the digital age with the purpose of ensuring that learners at all levels obtain the skills, competencies and knowledge needed for happy and productive lives in a sustainable future, including by strengthening learners’ resilience through critical thinking, adaptability, self-awareness, reflective learning and collaboration. The initiative aspires to build on the opportunities new technologies offer, as well as on the latest advances in education and related sciences, with a view to contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as they relate to universal education, life-long learning, promoting innovation, and beyond.
Knowledge and technological tools are available to reinvent learning. COVIDEA aims to provide a road map for possible areas of development and innovations that are fit for the advancement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development despite the enormous hurdle that the COVID-19 pandemic entails. This initiative is particularly relevant in view of the devastating effect that the pandemic-related lockdowns have had on education whereby 90 per cent of all students were kept out of school. These difficulties were compounded by the fact that remote learning remains out of reach for at least 500 million students around the world. The initiative also aims to strengthen solidarity among peoples and nations through the use of digital technologies for increased collaboration and coordination to overcome the crisis jointly.
Work in progress
This initiative is still at a relatively early stage. The Primer was released on 8 October 2020 and explains its goals and the approach taken. For updates go to the dedicated COVIDEA website. For any questions or suggestions please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org