By Bagher Nassir

Coronavirus and Iran's experience on distance learning

March 17, 2020 - 10:33

TEHRAN- This is the second time Iranian students experience distance learning in the aftermath of a nationwide crisis. Iranian schools across the country are now remained closed as a measure to control Coronavirus. 

The distance learning programs evoke the last years of eight-year war between Iran and Iraq when the big cities like Tehran and Isfahan were targeted by Iraqi missiles and many families left their houses for safe places in remote areas. 

Iranians in their late 30s or early 40s remember the teaching schedules on public TV. There were only two TV channels and channel II was dedicated to distance learning; mathematics, history, and social sciences were taught by unknown teachers whom their method was not familiar to the students.  

Almost 35 years later in a different crisis, once again, Iranian students have to learn from a distance. This time, thanks to technology, the chance of more constructive communication between students and teachers is higher. 

In recent days, Western media outlets have replaced the word "pandemic" with "outbreak" of Coronavirus. This approach would be interpreted as the highest level of alert in all countries. 

Coronavirus has now infected every continent except Antarctica. Thereupon, in the early days of the current semester, many schools across the United States and Europe were shut down in attempt to control the virus. 

As a result of rising concerns over the spread of Coronavirus, the schools may remain closed for some weeks and distance learning would be an alternative to bridge the gap in the learning process. 

Now that students across the globe feel what the Iranian students experienced 35 years ago. Out of their experience on distance learning, the former Iranian students and teachers ensure that quality of distance learning cannot compete school classes. One-way communication was the most important deficiency of TV classes and the examination system altered in order to ease passing the courses.

In the global crisis shaped by Coronavirus, Iran can share its experiences on distance learning with other countries. Despite the fact that information technology has changed the rules of the game, the psychological aspects of distance learning may have remained the same. 

The shortcomings of distance learning and virtual classes in the 21st century yet to be found and the former Iranian students and teachers are valuable sources in this case.

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