The education industry didn’t stop when the pandemic started. Instead, it had to change rapidly to meet the growing needs of learners at all age levels. To be sure, the curve was steep and rocky at first. Many people resisted moving classrooms in a digital direction. Now, though, schools and colleges — along with their faculty and students — have begun to embrace the opportunities remote learning offers.
How the Education Industry is Adapting to Remote Learning
Online schooling seems like it’s here to stay. By the end of 2025, Gartner predicts that around 90% of America’s public school districts will offer hybrid-style instructional environments. These unique learning opportunities open doors for entrepreneurs and companies to develop software and tools to make the transition seamless and effective.
Of course, many providers have already introduced state-of-the-art technological solutions aimed at fostering knowledge through digital means. Below are several key results that have come from the past year’s innovative thinkers and businesses.
1. Online and in-person education are seen as complementary approaches.
Before Covid-19, plenty of families and pupils thought of online education as an alternative to in-person instruction. Lockdowns showed that online learning could be just as effective in engaging learners. In fact, many schools have decided to keep their digital schooling components for the future.
The digital classroom allows for tremendous flexibility for both teachers and students. However, it’s not an entirely new approach. The makers of Canvas, one of the world’s leading online learning management tools, led initiatives in 14 states to bridge the digital divide prior to 2020. Tens of millions of users were already familiar with the Canvas platform, especially in higher education. Now, even more students are comfortable logging into the portal to receive personalized instruction and mentoring.
With so many young people familiar with cloud-based programs like Canvas, the idea of hybrid classrooms will become more accepted. This approval means that over the coming years, the marriage of online and offline education is likely to be expected.
2. Teachers have discovered new instructional methods.
Gen Z kids are digital natives. Using a device to log into a classroom or “hand in” homework seems natural to them. Conversely, some teachers have had to become more comfortable instructing in digital forums. The skills students have learned — often by trial and error — have spawned peer-to-peer continuing education workshops to foster sharing.
Colleges are trying to help up-and-coming teachers and current instructors, too. Take the University of Florida’s e-Learning arm. Not only does the University’s site feature online learning best practices, but the institution provides videos and other helpful tools. The goal is obvious: Help instructors understand how to leverage the unique aspects of digital educational and remote learning platforms.
What types of required coursework be added at the collegiate level to teach coeds how to maneuver effortlessly between online and in-person environments? It’s not hard to imagine a day when would-be teachers are expected to take a certain number of “remote teaching” credits to earn their degrees.
3. Career changers are finding innovative ways to upskill — remotely.
Leave it to Google to imagine different ways to disrupt the education industry status quo. In March 2021, the search engine giant announced plans to offer professionals certification in a number of subjects. The goal is to help career changers make moves quickly and potentially avoid the need to go back to college.
Though Google’s coursework won’t be free, it’s set at a price point that’s affordable for many adults. Additionally, Google promises 10,000 scholarships to kickstart its programs and get people displaced by Covid-19 back into the workforce.
Google isn’t likely to be the last company to envision remote learning as an answer for workers who need advanced training. With so many barriers to distance learning broken thanks to the pandemic, people are more open to upskilling digitally. And employers will have to decide which programs’ certifications they want candidates to possess.
4. Extracurriculars have gotten extra-special treatment.
A huge concern among parents and educators has been a dearth of extracurriculars in many schools. Art and music programs frequently have received second billing to other courses. However, the coronavirus gave many schools a chance to rev up their extracurriculars and allow all students to join in.
With sports activities brought to a halt at schools, many young people who would have spent time competing could explore their creative sides. This gave rise to many extraordinary projects, including Zoom performances and socially distant concerns on Facebook live. Many extracurricular clubs found homes online — and members who were eager to interact, even students considered introverted or shy.
Will more extracurricular clubs and activities be available online rather than after school in the coming years? Really, why wouldn’t they be? Not every student can commit to staying 30 minutes each Monday to be on a debate team. But the same student might be able to log onto an online session later on Mondays to practice forensics online. The more flexible a club can be with its online scheduling, the more successfully it can appeal to increasingly diverse participants.
5. Teachers are recording their sessions to use for a variety of purposes.
When you teach in person and online students simultaneously, one way to reduce the chance of anyone missing out is to record the session. That’s why so many teachers have begun to create videos of their daily classroom lectures — and the videos are proving useful in multiple ways.
After a class has been recorded for students who can’t attend in person or one who may have failed to attend because of connection issues or trouble logging on — the session can be stored. It can also be used as a quality assurance tool. For instance, the teacher may want to review the session to listen to student questions. Understanding learners’ most frequently asked questions can inform the next day’s lesson plan.
Administrators may rely on the taped lessons to evaluate the quality and efficacy of their teaching staff. Randomly spot-checking instructional online videos can show if a teacher has mastered the skills required for effective online teaching as well as interaction with the onsite learners concurrently. If the instructor or professor hasn’t gained acceptable proficiency in this area — the administrator can suggest resources to improve the teacher’s abilities.
The pandemic has been very difficult for teachers, administrators, students, and parents. Nevertheless, it’s brought about some of the most exciting advancements that the American learning system has seen in recent years. And those advancements are poised to transform the way we think about delivering and receiving a quality education.
Image Credit: RODNAE Productions; Pexels; thank you!