Crisis Management in an Educational Institution After COVID-19: Addressing Difficulties in the Transition to Virtual Education

BusinessManagement

  • Author Paola Paez
  • Published July 10, 2022
  • Word count 1,285

In early 2020 with the onset of COVID-19, all economic sectors went into crisis. Educational businesses were affected in particular because of the sudden suspension of traditional classroom learning and immediate switch to virtual education (Salakhova et al,2020). The author, as someone who has been in education for 14 years and was working as high school teacher at the time, experienced first hand what kind of chaos this produced. This article discusses a study regarding the difficulties in virtual learning during the pandemic, which was conducted by the author and CEO of a private tutoring business in Ecuador, Erudito Tutoring. This company opened in 2011 as an in-home tutoring service and shut-down upon the COVID-19 crisis. Before the formal study was conducted, clients and stakeholders informally voiced to the CEO that tutors found it hard to correctly use different platforms, students had a difficult time learning math concepts (in particular, Geometry) on a screen, and young students were not able to sit still and concentrate on a computer. Part of the study that was conducted in 2022 consisted of two surveys, with the intention of identifying the biggest challenges in virtual education for both students and teachers from early 2020 to early 2021. Below is the background of the issue at hand , the questions that were included in the surveys, the statistics/results for each question, and the practices that have been implemented since then to re-open the institution and address the problems that were identified in the study.

Background

As mentioned above, information was informally gathered on what the challenges were in virtual education during the first couple months of the pandemic. Now, there needed to be an analysis in research conducted by others to see what kind of findings there were and how it could be applied to Erudito Tutoring. He et.al (2021) found that in terms of technology, teachers were having difficulty learning how to use several different platforms while educational institution leaders decided which was the best to use. Since Erudito Tutoring was originally based out of a Latin American country and its CEO still lives in one, it was of interest to see what kind of research was being conducted on the issue in other Latin American countries. Contreras et.al (2021) found that in Mexico, teachers found it hard to engage students, had technical problems, had a problem with attendance, and found it harder to give students individualized attention. The findings described both by He et.al (2021) and Contreras et.al (2021) were very similar to those that the author found at Erudito Tutoring in 2020 and led to the creation of the two surveys below.

Surveys

The first survey, which was meant to gain insight on the student learning experience during COVID-19, generated 149 responses. The results are shown below:

Table 1

Survey: “Student Learning Experience During Covid-19”

Response: “never” Response: “sometimes” Response: “always”

I clearly understood the instructions that were given to me for assignments in virtual classes

2/149=1.3% 87/149=58.3% 60/149= 40.2%

I had reliable internet connection during virtual class

16/149= 10.7% 123/149=82.5% 10/149=6.7%

My instructor had a reliable internet connection during virtual class

27/149=18.12% 103/149=69.12% 19/149=12.75%

I was able to efficiently use the platforms designated by the instructor/institution

36/149=24.16% 102/149=58.45% 11/149=7.38%

My instructor was able to efficiently use the platforms recommended in virtual class

17/149=11.4% 88/149=59% 44/149=29.5%

I was able to effectively communicate with my instructor during the pandemic

8/149=5.36% 64/149=42.95% 77/149=51.7%

I was able to effectively communicate with my classmates during the pandemic

3/149=2% 96/149=64.4% 50/149=33.5%

Student’s control of the microphone affected the quality of my class

13/149=8.7% 88/149=59% 48/149=32.2%

Anxiety affected my performance during isolation in COVID-19

7/149= 4.7% 79/149=53% 63/149=42.3%

Depression affected my performance during isolation in COVID-19

6/149=4% 80/149=53.7% 63/149=42.3%

Results from this first survey suggested that the biggest difficulties students had in learning upon the pandemic was the fact they were not always able to efficiently use the new platforms, there were internet connection problems both on their side and on the teachers, and they were having a hard time communicating with peers. Also, a high percentage of students expressed that anxiety and depression were affecting their performance.

The second survey, which was meant to gain insight on teacher experience during COVID-19, generated 120 responses. The results are shown below:

Table 2

Survey: “Difficulties Experienced by Instructors During the COVID-19 Pandemic”

Response: “never” Response: “sometimes” Response: “always”

I was able to effectively communicate the instructions that I needed students to complete in virtual assignments

0/120=0% 98/120=81.66% 22/120=18.33%

I had reliable internet connection while I was teaching class

6/120=5% 105/120=87.5% 9/120=7.5%

My students reported bad internet connection as a reason to not attend class

3/120=2.5% 17/120=14.16% 100/120=83.33%

I was able to efficiently use the platforms that became popular during pandemic(zoom, Microsoft teams)

1/120=0.83% 55/120=45.833% 64/120=53.33%

My students were able to efficiently use the platforms recommended for virtual class

2/120=1.66% 68/120=56.66% 50/120=41.66%

I was able to effectively communicate with my students during the pandemic

2/120=1.66% 52/120=43.33% 66/120=55%

I was able to effectively transmit the knowledge that I needed to share during class-time

7/120=5.833% 97/120=80.83% 16/120=13.33%

Student’s manipulation of the microphone affected the quality of my class

6/120=5% 81/120=67.5% 33/120=27.5%

Anxiety affected my performance in class during COVID-19

23/120=19.16% 82/120=68.33% 15/120=12.5%

Depression affected my performance in class during COVID-19

17/120=14.16% 76/120=63.33% 27/120=22.5%

This second survey suggested that the biggest problems amongst teachers during pandemic seemed to be that students used bad internet connection as an excuse not to attend class (83.33%), they were finding it difficult to use the new platforms, and they felt there was ineffective communication with the students. A high percentage of teachers (over 60%), like students, expressed that depression and anxiety were affecting their performance during class-time.

Implemented Practices

To address the problems that were identified by the survey given to students, there are currently only two platforms being used by Erudito tutors: Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Training is provided to incoming tutors, who then train students on how to use the whiteboard in case the student doesn’t know how. Internet connection problems have significantly decreased since 2020 since there have been several modifications within internet providers to adapt to the volume of users on the web, therefore connection problems are no longer a significant issue. Communication with peers doesn’t necessarily apply to Erudito Tutoring since communication is between the tutor, the student, in some cases the student’s parent, and the CEO. There have been measures to improve lateral communication such as weekly meetings with all stakeholders within the business, and meetings between the client and CEO to discuss progress and observations about the tutor. The issue with anxiety and depression has significantly decreased worldwide since the end of pandemic, but students who are still facing these issues are supported by the CEO, and are accredited classes when they are not feeling well.

To address the problems voiced by teachers at the time of pandemic, new procedures have been put into practice at Erudito. Since students still use bad internet as an excuse, if a student does not inform that they will not attend class within 4 hours before the class, it counts as a no-show and they still have to pay. In terms of platforms, all teachers are trained on how to use the whiteboards on Microsoft Teams and Zoom. The CEO ensures communication between all stakeholders, and in terms of the issue with anxiety and depression, the same apertures are given to teachers than are to students.

Conclusion

In synthesis, part of the study conducted by Erudito’s CEO led to the use of two platforms, lateral communication between all stakeholders, and mental health support for students and tutors upon the re-opening of the institution and end of COVID-19 pandemic in 2022.

References

Contreras, C. P., Picazo, D., Cordero-Hidalgo, A., & Chaparro-Medina, M. (2021).

He, W., Zhang, Z. J., & Li, W. (2021). Information technology solutions, challenges, and suggestions for tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. International journal of information management, 57, 102287.

Valentina B. Salakhova, Yuliya V. Bazhdanova, Tuyana Ts. Dugarova, Natalia S. Morozova, Margarita M. Simonova (2020) THE CRISIS OF EDUCATION IN CONDITIONS OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC: THE MODEL OF BLENDED LEARNING . Systematic Reviews in Pharmacy, 11 (12), 1411-1416. doi:10.31838/srp.2020.12.210

I am an Educational Psychologist currently working on a PhD in Business Management.

www.Erudito-Tutoring.com

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