Adjusting to virtual learning has not been easy for New York City students during COVID-19, as they got used to learning outside of a classroom setting while facing challenges like waiting six weeks to receive their electronic devices.
On May 5, Cuomo announced New York is collaborating with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a blueprint to reimagine education in the new normal. As New York begins to develop plans to reopen K-12 schools and colleges, the state and the Gates Foundation will consider what education should look like in the future, including:
- how to use technology to provide more opportunities to students no matter where they are
- how to provide shared education among schools and colleges using technology.
- considering how technology can reduce educational inequality, including English as a new language students
- how to use technology to meet educational needs of students with disabilities
- how to provide educators more tools to use technology
- how technology break down barriers to K-12 and colleges and universities to provide greater access to high quality education no matter where the student lives.
“The last few months have been an incredibly stressful time full of change, but we have to learn and grow from this situation and make sure we build our systems back better than they were before,” Cuomo said. “One of the areas we can really learn from is education because the old model of our education system where everyone sits in a classroom is not going to work in the new normal.”
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is in favor of Cuomo’s out-of-the-box thinking. There is no disputing it that there is a huge problem with education in the city, he said.
He stressed that it should not take a month and a half to receive laptops to learn virtually and added that they deserve better treatment.
According to Dinowitz, there clearly is a digital divide in education. Families in poor areas should have the same opportunities as those in well off communities, he said.
“We should use technology to educate our kids better,” the Dinowitz said. “I think it’s good that the government is bringing Bill Gates into the conversation.”
Dinowitz said if Gates can enhance the technology then he is all for it. However, he said that nothing can replace teaching in the classroom and there needs to be a balance of human connection and technology.
“I personally believe there is no substitute for personal interaction between teachers and students,” he stressed. “I think learning is about more than just looking at a tablet.”
He explained the pandemic has shown that New York needs to revamp its education sooner rather than later.
“We have to start looking at the larger picture and new and innovative ways to educate,” Dinowitz said.