The global pandemic irrevocably altered every facet of our lives, compelling us to rethink the way we function and communicate. For education, the online platforms became an essential tool to interact with our students, and to maintain a degree of normality when all else was thrown into uncertainty. Now, with the world emerging cautiously from government-imposed lockdowns and travel bans, students in both school and higher education are once again beginning the more traditional practice of education. But, should we simply transition into our previous formats? Perhaps it is time to pause, reflect and take stock of the lessons we can learn from this unusual time in our world’s history. What can be salvaged, realised and understood from this time? It is in these lessons that we will gather details and data to sustain education in the future.
This issue adopts an appreciative lens, drawing together elements of education which could become the rungs of the ladder to lift us ahead. Undoubtedly, schooling during the pandemic revealed several inequities, exposing aspects of vulnerability and positioning others with privilege. It was overall a time of complexity and simplicity, and it is in this paradox that we find ourselves drawing out those pearls of wisdom. It was complex because of its heavy need on technology, the need for devices, an internet connection, and dedicated spaces to connect and engage electronically. It was simple because the home became a space of learning, parents became natural, surrogate teachers, and students began to engage with their learning in new and innovative ways. However, there were many points on this spectrum, which positioned some as fortunate, and others less so.
Importantly, it was a time to develop and draw on our internal reserves of resilience. Acquiring this resilience, is embedded in the words of former American President, Barack Obama, when he spoke of internalising excellence. As a race, humans are entrepreneurial, we strive to be and do better, competitiveness is built into us. It is this spirit that preserved us when the pressures of the pandemic became all too real and overwhelming. We preserved ourselves innately, sustaining our momentum as a people who remain essentially and deliberately, learners. In this issue of Studies in Education, we draw together ten articles, each referencing a different and varied aspect of educational resilience.
The issue coalesces around education in the contemporary age, focusing on the challenges and the joys of teaching and learning in the spectre of a global crisis.
In the first article “Online Higher Education: The Importance of Students’ Epistemological Beliefs, Well-being, and Fun”, Sujarwanto, Kieron Sheehy, Khofidotur Rofiah, and Budiyanto, present a mixed methods study which draws on both principal component analysis and thematic analysis to explore student’s epistemological beliefs about online learning in higher education.
Somasundar M reflects in the second article “Perceived Discrimination and Students’ Behavioural Changes: The Role of Cultural Background and Societal Influence” on how cultural background and societal influences could shape discriminatory beliefs about behaviour changes based on selected demographic variables.
In their article “The Effects of Learning Stations on Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Students’ Achievement and Self-Regulated Learning”, authors Reem Alsaadi and Adam Al Sultan investigate the effects of learning stations on developing academic achievement and self-regulated learning, among a group of Saudi Arabian students.
The fourth article, “Turkish Folk Music Lessons with Phenomenon-Based Learning: Preliminary Lessons and Results,” a Turkish study by Meltem Çi̇men, focusing on the use of Turkish folk music, utilises phenomenon-based learning to reveal that pedagogically strong introductory activities are significant with regard to anchoring effective lessons.
In their article, “Effects of Gamified Learning on Students of Different Player Traits in Malaysia,” Mageswaran Sanmugam, Anurita Selvarajoo and Jeya Amantha David reflect on the use of gamified learning, through a rumination on player traits, noting that positive changes could emerge to reshape education in the modern context.
The sixth article by Julia Tanabe “Sustaining Language Learning through Social Interaction at a Japanese National University” is a study looking into sustaining language learning through social interaction, demonstrating that characteristics like cooperation, interdependence and responsibility are fundamental in achieving education for sustainability.
In a critical discourse of religious representation in Indonesia “’Where am I?’ A Critical Discourse Analysis of Religious Representation”, Maretha Dellarosa observes that representing people accurately and appropriately in elementary school textbooks, aligns with social expectations and consolidates respect and dignity among communities of people.
The eighth article “No Campus Life for Us: Personal Reflections of First-year Students at a Malaysian University” zooms in on the effects of the pandemic on higher education. Ireena Nasiha Ibnu, Wan Hartini Wan Zainodin and Faizah Din, in their Malaysian-based study, consider the perceptions of first-year university students, who were compelled into online learning during the global pandemic. The study notes that students prefer more in-person interaction in order to sustain their learning.
The ninth article “Teacher’s Working Condition and Hybrid Teaching Environment – A Narrative Case Study”, by Neha Anand and Abbey Bachmann is a narrative inquiry into the lived experiences of a teacher during online learning. It illustrates both the challenges and joys of altered workloads and engaging with students.
Finally, in their critical perspectives of higher studies, utilising online modes of learning, Harshil Sathwara, Archie Joshi and Geetali Saha, note in their article “Critical Perspective Analysis of Higher Education Studies in the Online Mode – Emerging Challenges and Solutions” that academic progress can be sustained through deliberate efforts on the part of learners and teachers, in the online classroom. Their study observed that a refocusing of the educational lens could alter the way educational opportunities are provided and utilised in the post-pandemic world.
Compositely, these ten manuscripts articulate an emerging need to salvage and reclaim, following the disruption imposed by the pandemic. As a people, we have no choice but to move forward, and it is the lessons from this crisis which will inform and underpin our efforts in the education of tomorrow.
Editor, IAFOR Journal of Education: Studies in Education