Virtual educational guidance in support of tutors and families
for school walls to fall in front of the ubiquity of the network. Virtual educational guidance in support of tutors and families.
For more than a decade  I have been exposing the need to create a virtual orientation procedure that complements the face-to-face one. It would act as a palliative for inequalities, as a kind of expansion of a system that still carries many of the precariousness of the traditional model and, especially, it would be a way of bringing orientation to society, making it possible for school walls to fall in front of the ubiquity of the network. Virtual educational guidance in support of tutors and families.
Faced with an unusual and unexpected episode of home confinement and social isolation like the one we are experiencing, created by COVID-19, this need becomes more pressing. We are already late, as in so many things; however, better than complaining is providing solutions. There are three proposals ahead:
- Carry out a massive training of teachers and families in the use of the necessary tools to carry out work from home. These are short, clear and precise video tutorials in which to introduce users in sequential order to the use of these tools. A simple program would involve a section of previous knowledge, both for the teacher and for the families, the former on a more technical level and the latter as eventual educators of their children. Along with it, the counselor's advice would go.
- Design as soon as possible a wide repository of quality digital resources, adapted to the needs of each evolutionary cycle of the students. Although some educational institutions have it, in many cases it has consisted of digitizing traditional materials. This can be valid in the first and immediate moment, but nowadays it is necessary to bet on interactive materials that promote self-orientation and self-evaluation of the students and have very detailed work guidelines at all times. In its design, a harmonized work between teacher and counselor is very important.
- Maintain continuous contact with the educational community so that opinions and experiences can be exchanged, as well as asking for help. The counselor will coordinate, but also advise when necessary. It may be synchronous by video conference, preferably in a small group; and asynchronous, through social networks and general and specialized forums. Counselor-tutor-teacher become the axis from which the speeches will be built and the links will be established in this virtual relationship, always complementary to the face-to-face relationship
We round off the idea that online educational guidance should have been a complement to face-to-face for years. The habit of students, tutors and families to the same would have made it possible that in moments of confinement like the current one, everyone would be much more used to what it means to have to manage individual freedom around ethereal obligations such as virtual ones. This change in habits that is currently being experienced should not be an exception, as I have expressed at the beginning of the article, but something normal, increased by the singularity of the events.
Some examples can serve to illustrate what would be good practices on the part of the counselor:
- Carrying out coordination and work sessions by videoconference with the tutors, grouped by educational cycles, within the stage where the counselor develops his work.
- Indications or suggestions in relation to the organization of students' work at home in times of confinement: timetable, study techniques, strategies to diversify tasks, etc.
- Help families in relation to their children's school work at home, free time, homework tasks, etc., complementary to those that tutors may propose.
- Set of activities organized in different areas of guidance and not just academic. All include orientations and a self-assessment to facilitate the family's task.
- Links to various pages, portals and trusted blogs, evaluated and commented, available to the educational community.
- Set of tests and self-correcting tests of simple application.
- Communication tools always up-to-date: moderated forum (it can be more than one), news wall, etc.
- Online educational video games commented according to their usefulness for orientation.
- Free to use computer programs, commented and organized by theme and age
- Selection of films, and if possible specific cuts within them, grouped by themes and with their corresponding viewing and work guide.
- Creation of a virtual network of professional counselors with whom to share information and resources, which will enrich the previous sections and will be made available to the tutors and families of the different centers.
All these tasks require, on the one hand, that the counselor has a web space where to locate all the information and content related to the Guidance Department, and, on the other, the teamwork of counselors and tutors. In addition, it will be necessary to have a lot of time for a concretion that has a minimum quality.
This is a good time to remember the overload of work that counselors and counselors have been enduring, due to the large number of students they are in charge of.
If we can learn from our mistakes, this ordeal we are going through could lead us to pay more attention to the possibilities that the networked digital world has in orientation. I cite as an example of innovation in orientation, The university environment to favor the autonomous orientation of tutors, students and graduates. The user, previously registered, navigates through the academic, personal or professional fields and obtains personalized recommendations, based on diverse information and on the opinions of other people who had a similar experience. To learn about this new form of virtual orientation, it is preferable for each one to browse the website and draw their own conclusions.
It is clear that the current situation that humanity is going through will lead to a rethinking of many of the educational actions carried out so far and a commitment to developing a parallel training system, to which to turn when characteristics similar to the current one occur. All these measures are based on the fact that teachers and families have access to the internet, something that is practically widespread today. Although there are some social sectors that do not have a computer at home, in almost all cases they have a smartphone that can perform a substitute function from time to time.
The pandemic has revealed two fundamental issues that will have to be addressed: a) the need to complement face-to-face education and guidance with virtual ones; b) the responsibility of the educational administrations to exercise their subsidiary nature and promote the provision of means to all families, thus contributing to eliminate the digital divide. Hopefully this is also a lesson learned.