One of the most significant disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic to education was the vulnerability of relying on in-classroom proprietary learning environments to drive student performance. Although schools around the world adapted as best they could to a remote learning environment, many teachers felt that students did not adapt well to online learning, and CB Insights found that nearly half of parents surveyed were dissatisfied with their children’s academic performance during the pandemic.
But in many cases, challenges like these can be met with increased efforts to leverage new technology innovations that can change the paradigm and create new models of learning where both the curriculum and IT teams effectively coordinate their efforts to create more flexible hybrid learning models that can adapt to both remote and in-person student needs.This article will address these three questions:
Children are naturally distracted, and classroom learning environments have been designed to reinforce a structured environment that ensures all students are focused, motivated, and have equal access to the teacher and learning materials, regardless of household income. With remote learning, those elements can be lost, which can result in more distracted students with substandard learning space compared to a traditional classroom. “It’s different when you’re learning from a person and you have a relationship with that person,” cognitive psychologist Daniel Willingham has said. “That makes you care a little bit more about what they think, and it makes you a little bit more willing to put forth the effort.” With the combination of lack of social structure, limited teacher reinforcement, and the absence of natural relationship building, it’s clear that 100% remote learning is not an effective long term learning model.
Today’s classrooms have many of the technologies needed for effective transformation that can adapt to new learning models that can increase learning performance while minimizing risks to student health like a traditional classroom environment. Three areas need to be addressed:
Traditional classrooms are equipped with internet access to power proprietary interactive software for interactive in-person learning. For a more flexible learning model, both teachers and IT directors need to look for ways to harmonize the learning platforms to enable students to have a more uniform learning environment regardless of location.
According to George Lucas’ Education Foundation Edutopia, “Effective tech integration must happen across the curriculum in ways that research shows deepen and enhance the learning process. In particular, it must support four key components of learning: active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts." One example is the need to transition from interactive whiteboards that run proprietary in-class software to more flexible interactive flat panels that can adapt to a wide variety of curriculum that can be used either in-class or remotely.
Even without an ongoing pandemic, Covid-19 has caused educators to consider how to accommodate remote students' needs caused by illness, inclement weather, or extended travel. In 2018, many Texas schools completely shut down due to flu outbreaks or unexpected inclement weather – impacting budgets and learning plans. With new interactive screens equipped with innovations such as anti-microbial screens and live interactive cloud collaboration, educators will have more tools to ensure strong student performance without compromising in-classroom health.
When classroom technology changes – so do the opportunity for higher student performance. While universal forced remote learning has its challenges, there is research that shows that some students may retain as much as 25-60% more material when learning online compared to only 8-10% in a classroom. Why? By allowing students to learn at their own pace, students can focus on the areas where they need more help, spending their time going back and re-reading areas they need more help. Also, teachers can now record their lessons so they can comment, annotate, and customize sections to help students in difficult areas – and enable a student to access from wherever they are – at any time.
As schools look beyond the Covid-19 crisis, administrators are going to be challenged to embrace the requirements for remote learning by using the latest innovations in educational technology to bridge the digital divide caused by hybrid learning environments. These new technologies offer the promise of keeping the performance improvements found in in-person collaborative classrooms while embracing the efficiencies of digital learning and instant access to teacher-created content, lessons, and live real-time collaboration no matter where the student is located.