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Radical solutions for education in a crisis context
Burgos D., Tlili A., Tabacco A., Springer International Publishing, Cham, Switzerland, 2020. 337 pp.  Type: Book (978-9-811578-68-7)
Date Reviewed: Jul 28 2022

Enhancing learning in a period of crisis such as COVID-19 has emerged as an opportunity for global learning. However, it comes at the cost of transitioning from face-to-face learning interactions to online learning interfaces. This book highlights some of these issues and possible solutions.

The book comprises four parts spread over 23 chapters, with chapter 1 serving as the editors’ introduction to the following 22 research papers (chapters). Part 1, “Global Learning and Crisis,” has eight chapters. Chapter 2 illustrates an action plan using keys, such as making a decision, first aid for shock, digital tools, technical support, follow-up and formative assessment, and future reform. Chapter 3 present strategies for managing school dropouts and learning demotivation among students, parents, and teachers. It also describes two projects: Oltre Le Distanze (Beyond Distances) and Arcipelago Educativo (Arcipelago Education) reforming learning practices in Italy. Chapter 4 refers to an instructional design process consisting of five-phases: analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation. Chapter 5 explores methodology involving student and institution surveys with findings on mobility impacts and perceptions on online learning, and teaching challenges and open communications, respectively. Chapter 6 identifies and recommends “educational opportunities [for] students with disabilities during remote learning for students and parents.” Chapter 7 classifies online assessment scenarios such as synchronous assessment and asynchronous assessment with knowledge assessment and assessment of activities. Chapter 8 describes open educational resources (OER) and objectives for the facilitation of OER adoption.

Part 2, “Teachers Support in Crisis,” adds 5 chapters. Chapter 9 deals with learning management systems and virtual classroom environments, and further exposes commonly used methods and tools in online learning. Chapter 10 identifies the roles of instructors while interacting with students in online learning environments and the transformation from face-to-face teaching to online learning. Chapter 11 institutionalizes four types of remote teaching challenges: technical, psychological and emotional, social, and pedagogical, along with their proposed solutions. Chapter 12 labels the identity of a teacher into six facets: teacher, specialist, pedagogue, caregiver, manager, and professional. Chapter 13 depicts a technology acceptance model for effective teaching and demonstrates the pros and cons of both face-to-face classrooms and online teaching through technology.

Part 3 “Learners Support in Crisis,” explores the aid available in times of crisis. Chapter 14 identifies disruptions during crisis, including digital, family, psychosocial impacts, and impact on higher education; it includes solutions such as digital awareness, access to Internet connectivity, and synchronous and asynchronous online learning solutions. Chapter 15 deploys an online adaptive self-assessment service, “Self-assessment Measured with Analytics on Run-Time for YOU” (SmartU), and procedures for sustaining learner motivation in online learning settings. Chapter 16 outlines alternative augmented communication pictograms and an overview of the Tawasol Symbols project.

Part 4 is made up of several case studies. Chapter 17 addresses flexible learning, maintaining teaching and learning, and challenges related to the implementation of flexible learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chapter 18 presents a case study on solving problems involving educational services at Turin Polytechnic University in Tashkent, looking specifically at higher education. Chapter 19 looks at online teaching and learning from the perspectives of International University of La Rioja and Cambridge University. Chapter 20 reports a case study on learning environments from the Cuneo Oltrestura Insitute in Italy, comprising three kindergartens, five primary schools, and one secondary school. Chapter 21 gathers guidance for online classes such as real-time interaction, contents based, and assignments based, and also insights, considerations, and issues at macro, meso, and micro levels. Chapter 22 presents a case study on an open space educational framework implemented in Morocco and includes ten principles for designing “different academic programs and learning units.” Chapter 23 considers the future of traditional face-to-face learning interactions and the transition to online learning environments.

“About the Future,” in chapter 1, which includes learning content and data protection policies over various platforms, makes this book worth reading. It is an interesting read for academics, professionals, and research students working in the area of online and distance learning, specifically in times of crisis.

Reviewer:  Lalit Saxena Review #: CR147479
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