Zahreen is a litigator at Jayaram with a background in the education industry: working both as a teacher and as an attorney for an education organization. Shoot her a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As with so many industries, the Covid-19 pandemic completely disrupted the field of education, requiring K-12 districts and higher education institutions to rethink how they were going to provide high-quality educational services to students without the traditional face-to-face educational model. A field that has been slow to adopt new technology was suddenly forced to and EdTech rose to the occasion, providing innovative solutions to both old and new educational problems.
So, post-Covid, how much of this innovation is here to stay and what does it mean for the traditional modes of learning?
Blended / Hybrid Learning:
While there will always a strong need for an in-school/face-to-face component to education, particularly for younger children, the pandemic has shown how the strategic use of technology can not only assist with remote access but can also lead to improved instruction. Blended or hybrid learning mix off and online learning models to help teachers maximize time with students, increased student engagement and boost learning retention. Small advancements like the capability for teachers to upload direct instruction allowing students to revisit or reference prior lessons, or students’ ability submit work online through applications like Google Classroom allows teachers to provide quicker feedback. Further, the use of augmented or virtual reality can increase opportunities for experiential learning at much lower cost than your traditional field trips and STEAM projects. Prior to the pandemic, some schools and universities had already implemented blended or hybrid learning environments, but after the reopening of schools, these environments will be ubiquitous, and to some extent necessary.
Applications and computer programs allow teachers to personalize lessons, by providing them up-to-date data on student competencies and allowing them to individualize learning paths. For example, using an application which automatically checks student work during a math lesson can provide live data to help the teacher check for understanding and allows them to intervene with struggling students immediately. Teachers can make lessons more enjoyable for students through gamification and real-time polling, which is made easy through the variety of apps and software available now. Post-Covid, schools have learned that technology has to be used to support and assist teachers in the heavy lift of individualized lesson planning in order to see real improvement in learning outcomes.
Experimentation in Education:
In comparison to other industries, education has not experienced much innovation in the critical areas of instruction, curriculum development, assessment, or teacher development. The Covid-19 pandemic has driven experimentation through necessity. However, increased use of EdTech will allow schools and universities to continue to reimagine education by allowing them to test new approaches through pilot programs and improve these interventions through iteration. Rather than rolling out the shiniest, newest digital literacy program to an entire school district, districts can use EdTech to decide which subgroup to roll out to, collect implementation data from the pilot program, and learning from mistakes and improve implantation going forward.
EdTech is by no means the silver bullet to the panacea of problems in education. The pandemic has exposed the great inequality in access to technology and the internet among different racial and socio-economic groups, which will certainly be a hindrance to EdTech for the future. While such issues should be addressed from an equity lens, the role of technology in education is here to stay, and the goal of K-12 districts and colleges and universities should be to deploy technology in ways that are student-centered and support and improve learning outcomes.