Coronavirus has led to a shift towards education embracing technology, but this shift shouldn’t just be a temporary fix, it should be a continued theme.
With schools due to come back after a prolonged summer break in the coming weeks, education is firmly in the spotlight, and it’s the perfect opportunity to make some positive changes. Of course, the safety of everyone involved is the number one priority, but perhaps the enforced reliance on technology that Coronavirus has fostered can provide lasting benefits in every area.
We look at some of the reasons technology should be playing a bigger role in the education system, both inside the classroom and outside of it.
It Allows Us to Respond to the COVID Threat
Schools might be on the brink of returning, but the Coronavirus hasn’t gone away. Although we have it much more in check than when schools were forced to close back in March, it’s still something we’re learning how to control and manage.
This means the number one priority is getting students back into education safely.
The time has come where the government believes the benefits of children receiving a full-time education far outweigh the risks the virus presents, and thus it’s time for children to head back to the classroom. However, it highlights the importance of “making judgements at a school level about how to balance minimising any risks from Coronavirus by maximising control measures with providing a full educational experience.”
Social distancing measures, enhanced cleaning procedures, and the track and trace system are vital to this, but technology also has a role to play.
Through devices such as temperature scanning personnel management systems, schools are able to scan temperatures as students sign-in in the morning, helping to spot one of the main symptoms of the virus.
No matter how well things go, there are going to be children who develop symptoms, and how schools spot and deal with these instances will make a big difference. The results of this will mean children will be missing school through isolation even if they don’t test positive and have no symptoms.
These children still need educating though, and this is why the idea of online teaching is far from over. With local lockdowns and isolation still in place, schools are going to need to continue to perfect the way they provide teaching to those students who can’t make it into the classroom.
The better they can do this, the more flexible they can be if the virus does see another wave, pivoting between online and in the classroom learning as needed.
It Reflects the World We’re Living In
How often do you sit and take notes from a whiteboard with your pen and paper in your day to day life? Probably not very often at all, and yet, this is still what students spend their time doing every day in the classroom.
The world, and the jobs we do have changed rapidly over recent years, with technology at the centre, but have classrooms followed suit? Perhaps this enforced break is the perfect time to incorporate the technology of today into the education system.
We’ve got to be looking to train students for the jobs of the future, and when the jobs of today are already very technology focused, learning from a chalkboard seems counter-intuitive. By having to switch to online teaching during the lockdown, educators have seen some of the many advantages technology can bring to students, and now it becomes a question of how we can bring these to the classroom.
Of course, digital learning has also highlighted some inequalities between students’ access to the means to learn online. However, the answer shouldn’t be doing away with technology in education to make things even, it should be figuring out how we can create a more even playing field through technology.
One of the answers is bringing interactive digital solutions into the classroom to make sure those students who are lacking access at home are being exposed to the technology that’s driving future jobs. The more we make technology a central part of the classroom experience and shows its benefits, the easier it will be to help ensure funding so that every student can benefit from it when at home as well.
A Better Use of Resources
Face to face teaching time is vitally important. Teachers are always going to play a central role in the education system, but their resources are stretched. There are only so many teachers, so many classrooms, and so much time in the day, which means we need to find the best ways of freeing our teachers up to do what they do best.
This is another area where technology can play a huge part. The more we can introduce technology to help teachers with things such as lesson plans, grading, online assessments, and aiding in the teaching process, the more we free those teachers up to offer the one-on-one help that children need to learn.
While e-learning has its limitation, some studies are showing that “on average, students retain 25-60% more material when learning online compared to only 8-10% in a classroom.” If we can find ways of making the most of these benefits, then we can also take a burden of our teachers, freeing up our most precious resource to provide personalised, one-on-one teaching to individual children when needed.
Coronavirus has shown us that technology is capable of stepping in as a method of last resort, but that shouldn’t be where it ends. We need to figure out how we can work towards maximising the benefits of technology in the education system whilst eliminating its floors.
If we manage to do this then we will be much more capable of deploying our resources to create a superior education system.
Our first priority should always be the safety and quality of education we provide our children. Sometimes we need to make changes in the way we do things to ensure this, and the Coronavirus pandemic has been a prime example.
Every institution around the world has been affected by this issue, and those who have had greater exposure to technology have been able to adapt quickly to try and weather the storm. The education sector is one that’s typically been slow to change, and the fact it had only embraced technology to a limited extent meant it went through growing pains when making the pivot towards online learning.
However, in challenging times such as these, we often find ways of innovating, and if the education system can use this opportunity to embrace technology, then we might find we come out the other side with an even stronger education system.
The world has changed, and our classrooms and educational experience need to reflect the lives we live in the world. Technology can help us achieve this, and there are proven benefits to making it a more prominent part of our education system.
Now is the perfect opportunity to make positive changes in the classroom, and Coronavirus has given us the push we need.