We can all agree that it has been a rocky road on the learning pathway since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic:
- Students learning from home in isolated environments with or without access to resources and technology
- Parents having to find the means to provide the best learning environment and technology for their children at home
- Teachers juggling continuous learning experiences to maintain the engagement of their students either through synchronous or asynchronous lessons
Across the globe, learning communities found themselves navigating a new world. Learning and working from home environments have given all of us a new perspective and appreciation.
Despite the various challenges, schools have been incredibly resourceful and resilient to provide students with continuous learning experiences. We saw things like:
- curriculum delivered through technology or printed worksheets delivered to the home;
- collaborative chat rooms or project based presentations;
- video recorded lectures or one-on-one teacher student phone calls;
- on-line assessments or students snapping photos of completed work;
teachers exhausted every avenue to keep students engaged and learning.
The Positives of Technology on Education
Although this information is hard, we must ask ourselves, “Are there any benefits to remote learning? Is there any evidence showing us how this disruption will impact students in a positive way?”
According to Nora Fleming, there are findings that support benefits to students’ social, emotional and physical health with online, virtual classrooms. She states, “Some positive effects of remote learning due to factors like lower anxiety, better sleep, self-paced learning and less bullying and school-based trauma.” While we know that in-person learning is ideal to keep the large majority of students on-track with their learning goals, using technological advances, schools can better respond to less-than ideal circumstances.
Carly Berwick, writes in her article for Edutopia, “Reflections- and Lessons Learned- From Remote Learning”, remote teaching gave her the opportunity to refresh her teaching. Teaching remotely encouraged her to explore new approaches and made sure she provided her students with a voice to express how they learn best. Creating mini-lessons on video platforms gave students access to information anytime. Freeing up scheduled remote class periods for her and her students to have meaningful discussions, debates and collaborative activities.
Quickly it became apparent as the lockdown continued, the advantage families had if they had access to devices and internet.
- Better communication to parents and families.
- Teachers had access to more resources to create engaging and personalized lessons
- School leaders kept track of student attendance to help families stay engaged.
- Students able to communicate with their teacher(s), complete and organize assignments and have access to information for the duration of lessons.
Schools Are Striving to Improve Student Learning
In another article by CB INSIGHTS, “Education in the Post-Covid World: 6 Ways Tech Could Transform how we Teach and Learn'' reporters highlight the different technologies that are showing promising benefits to teaching and learning. These technologies are helping fill gaps in student achievement, student engagement and management systems to promote teacher, student, and parent engagement.
One strong benefit of remote learning is providing avenues for students to fill learning gaps. The virtual learning tools that are flooding the market and being accessed by teachers, schools, and parents have opened doors to give more students access to educational opportunities that they may not have had access to in the past.
A few examples are:
- Opportunities for students to participate in online course advancement
- Opportunity to gain recouping credits
- Ability for students to participate in skills practice and tutoring
- Organizational tools, such as learning management systems and virtual learning environments
- Ability for schools to create more virtual spaces that are “safe and risk-free” for students
Educational Shifts Will Impact How Schools Prepare Students
Data suggests that schools will embrace flipped instruction and blended curriculum as more and more districts return to in-person learning. Showing an increase in student engagement, teachers are using teaching and learning strategies that embrace virtual and augmented reality platforms, and gamification. Teachers using learning management systems that have components of artificial intelligence help them track student progress and provide immediate feedback and reinforcement. This saves time and uses resources more efficiently to better meet student needs.
So, as we move forward in planning for today but preparing for tomorrow, how can we unite the virtual and physical worlds to support today’s community of learners?
Although schools have risen to the challenge, daily information is coming out on how virtual environments cannot replace the benefits of students physically being in the classroom. In fact, most reports are stating that remote learning has been a disaster for students, especially those that fall into at-risk categories. Due to frequent isolation, many students are suffering from depression and anxiety. Reports also indicate that the achievement gaps between students will take years to repair.
Every day we are learning more and more on how this disruption is impacting education. It’s important as we move forward and “Plan for Today and Prepare for Tomorrow” we embrace that change is going to happen. Technology has made an impact, and with thoughtful planning and support, it can continue to improve student learning experiences.
Berwick, Carly. “Reflections—and Lessons Learned—From Remote Learning.” Edutopia, 24 July 2020, www.edutopia.org/article/reflections-and-lessons-learned-remote-learning. Accessed 7 Jan. 2021.
“Education In The Post-Covid World: 6 Ways Tech Could Transform How We Teach And Learn.” CB Insights, 2 Sept.2020, www.cbinsights.com/research/back-to-school-tech-transforming-education-learning-post-covid-19/.