My oldest child has gone back to school, and the COVID restrictions still in place mean that all his homework is now done online.
I haven’t seen him writing or drawing for the last few weeks. These days he opens his computer and starts working. Yesterday he was doing his spelling homework in the kitchen while I was preparing dinner. I noticed an unusual expression of concentration on his face, along with almost no movement of his hands on the keyboard.
“Are you still on your spelling homework?” I asked, trying not to sound too concerned.
“Yes, I am,” he said.
“What are the words this week?” I asked in disbelief.
“Antibiotics, antisocial, misbehave, nonfiction, unsatisfactory, misunderstanding,” he read with dismay.
“Those are difficult words. Are you managing OK to type them three times on the computer as the teacher asked you?”
“Oh no, mummy,” he replied, “that’s not the way I do it. I just write them once and copy and paste the other two times. It’s easier.”
As our children, students and more than half the workforce move to learning online, we’re tempted to think that all we have to deal with is a technical and digital challenge. As with any digital challenge, we just need to think about which app, software or platform will be best for online learning.
However the question is more complex. Online learning requires thinking differently about learning, and this is not a digital problem but a leadership one.
How we deliver online learning implies rethinking the way we learn. Learning online is not about making offline content available digitally.
There’s a difference between understanding change and adjusting to it.
Great leaders understand change and bring appropriate solutions to the challenge, while those aiming to adjust to it just end up copying and pasting.