Education took on a new look in 2020. When schools and businesses closed due to the pandemic, instructors needed to quickly pivot to different ways to engage students from pre-kindergarten to college and university students and universities and professionals in continuing education programs. EdTech solutions provided educators with the tools they needed.
Optimizing EdTech Solutions
Depending on the course level and the type of instruction, a total EdTech solution can include:
- Video conferencing
- Learning management system
- Parent-teacher communication
- Support for social-emotional skills
- Student collaboration platform
- Subject-area software
- Hardware, including PCs, laptops, tablets and printers
- Wireless infrastructure
- Network and application security
Although the tools were available to support remote and distance learning, learning experiences throughout the crisis showed that there are still challenges to overcome. Susan Manning, Ed. D, Chief Success Strategist for Credly, comments, “The problem was educators weren’t sure how to implement them into their strategies, since educators had to take an exclusively online approach for the very first time.”
She says many instructors relied heavily on traditional teaching methods, so they faced a steep learning curve for using EdTech solutions to conduct their classes. Additionally, widespread distance learning throughout 2020 also revealed the need for customizable solutions. “Each educator must be able to structure their technology to best serve their specific needs,” she says. “Also, moving forward, products need to be developed in collaboration with faculty and instructional designers to ensure that they are solving a problem, not creating one.”
Solutions providers that can integrate solutions can also help educators overcome data silos and inefficiencies. “Time and again, we get questions about integrations to automate the ability to get a credential in the earner’s hands as soon as the learning is verified. People like having something to show for their effort,” Manning says. “Having a tool that also allows for registration, learning, and credentialing in one space is ideal.”
Will Education Ever Be 100% In-Person Again?
Although students are heading back to physical classrooms, learning experiences during the pandemic have raised awareness about the benefits of online learning. “For the right population, the online experience can strengthen learning and provide greater access,” Manning explains. For example, a quieter student may benefit from time to reflect and edit when learning asynchronously, and employees may be able to enhance their skillsets more easily when they don’t have to travel.
“The bottom line is that online learning is an option that some hadn’t considered previously. I don’t see the demand decreasing,” Manning says.
She predicts that future distance learning will rely less on live web calls and instead leverage blended options that ask the learner to work independently and then come to synchronous follow-up meetings. “It doesn’t have to be all or nothing,” she says
The Opportunity for Solutions Providers
EdTech solutions providers now have the opportunity to evaluate the degree of success EdTech solutions delivered in 2020 and help their clients build a roadmap to improve for distance learning that’s easier to manage and more effective.
“As educators prepare to incorporate more online learning efforts into their curriculum, we’ll see investment in technology, training and flexibility that will help educators engage with their students in new ways,” Manning says.
Evaluate your portfolio to ensure you offer the EdTech tools your clients need to support distance learning as well as enhance learning in physical classrooms. The functionality, features, and flexibility your solutions provide can be the key to learning that takes place beyond the four walls of a school, building a plan for instructional continuity during a crisis, and enhancing student experiences day to day.