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By Alessandra Montini

In the face of so many uncertainties, we have a certainty: technology has become paramount in the lives of all people. The pandemic accelerated the digital transformation and in a short time we were studying, working, consuming and informing ourselves through digital. We are living in a new reality since the pandemic settled around the world.

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The new directions traced by Covid-19, seek effective solutions to “keep our lives”. One of the most affected areas was education. After all, the side effects of this crisis took the student out of the classroom and placed him in a digital universe that, for many, had not been experienced before, as in the case of children who are in the literacy. The great difficulty for most parents is: How do I hold my 5-year-old son for three hours a day in a chair facing a screen and still require him to acquire all the knowledge?

On the other side we have schools struggling to learn to swim in this new tide. This was a reality that was outside the plans of many educational institutions. After all, education in Brazil, be it basic or higher, has always faced gigantic challenges and difficult to be solved. Technological tools, for example, that helped the student inside and outside the classroom were already part of an old discussion. Suddenly, teachers and students had to resort to technology to maintain the school year, the only alternative left to schools in the midst of social distance. Is distance learning the new trend in the post-pandemic world?

We want to find the ideal dose to keep your studies in the healthiest way. It is not enough to have technological devices if the IBGE's National Household Sample Survey (PNAD) shows that 30% of households do not have access to the internet - that is, a lot of people. And this is the first problem that must be solved. We have a serious limitation for both students and teachers who do not have access to computers, mobile phones, software and internet of good quality. All of this makes it difficult to find an answer to what education will look like in the coming years.

Many private institutions have a number of resources, but if we think about public schools, we still need several government initiatives for EAD to be a reality without increasing social inequality in the country. This should be the government's priority, but even before the pandemic we have seen countless cuts in the educational area.

It is a fact that technology is an ally in educational success and minimizes the negative effects imposed by social isolation. For this reason, regression in the post-pandemic cannot be an alternative. We need to expand what we offer to students because we are in the midst of a digital transformation that also affects Brazilian education. The challenge that schools of basic and higher education will face from now on is to maintain a balance between face-to-face classes and the use of technological tools. The integration between the face-to-face world and the digital environment will be part of the education of the future. The reality proposes us to bring a mix of traditional education with the tools that help in all processes.

According to the Brazilian Distance Education Association, the number of students enrolled in this modality was 9 million by 2019. It is predictable that EAD will occupy a much larger place in the coming years, but that does not mean that face-to-face education will leave scene. On the contrary, it will continue to exist, especially for those people who have that preference. The novelty is that the courses may be offered partly in person and another through digital platforms.

An important part of maintaining the integration of this process is the previous training of the faculty. Many teachers have been resistant to this model for years and will now need this new adaptation. The effort must be joint so that it is not a traumatic experience.

The certainty we have is that, sooner or later, the apocalypse will pass and we will keep the classrooms and the digital world integrated. This is the future of education: screens are already becoming environments that allow students and teachers to connect creatively, with focus and quality. Times have changed and so has education, but we can only gain from the transformation that is coming!

* Alessandra Montini is director of LabData, FIA

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