5 important ways ed-tech tools can help close pandemic learning gaps

Over the past year, teachers and districts have seen decreased engagement, learning time, and attainment
By: | September 23, 2021
Martin Mckay

Martin Mckay

While students have seen learning gains throughout COVID-19, a recent study found achievement levels to be less than traditional years.

During the 2019-20 school year, 85% of U.S. districts’ elementary students received under four hours of instructional time per day. This is an hour less per day compared to the pre-pandemic national average. Even more so, a lot of pandemic instruction focused on reviewing already learned skills versus the learning of new skills.

These findings, as well as many others, have contributed to pandemic-induced learning gaps. Over the past year, teachers and districts have seen decreased engagement, learning time, and attainment. All of the above have resulted in many students being behind in their learning journeys.

There is hope for the coming school year though. In order to help close these gaps, we must first understand the root causes behind them. We then must learn from the results and support our students and teachers with the right tools in 2021-22.

Teacher perceptions from last school year

To gauge teacher perspectives from the past school year, Texthelp recently conducted a survey with its U.S. software users. The results shed light into how the pandemic has affected student engagement and learning achievement in writing and STEM. Results also showed teacher and student views on future EdTech benefits.

When it came to student writing, 85% of teachers said that students were less engaged over the pandemic. For math, 76% of teachers felt that students were less engaged. The survey also showed that 25% of writing teachers found the majority of their students failed to meet expectations. While these results are troubling, they also show a need for more collaborative and feedback-driven support.

Lastly, the same survey also found positive results for teaching and learning in the pandemic. Nearly 90% of surveyed teachers still plan to use ed-tech tools in the future. Before COVID-19 many teachers were reluctant to switch over to digital learning tools.

However, with the quick move to virtual learning, many teachers learned the benefits of digital tools. Some teachers found these tools accessible and easy to use for students. Others found ed-tech helped to increase engagement and collaboration.

Either way, ed-tech was a key contributor over the past year in providing ongoing learning. And based on teacher feedback, it also has a role to play in the future of education.

How ed-tech addresses learning gaps

Over the past 18 months, ed-tech tools have surged in popularity. They gave students and teachers the opportunity to keep the learning going during a period of many ups and downs.

But, as we go back to the classroom, how can schools continue to use the ed-tech tools they’ve already invested in? The answer: ed-tech tools can help close achievement gaps.

Yes, digital tools were helpful in bridging the gaps between hybrid and virtual learning. But their wealth of benefits doesn’t end there. As we go into this new year, many schools are looking to make up for lost time and to close learning gaps. Ed-tech can help here—both from a student and teacher perspective. Here’s how:

  1. Ed-tech allows for students to show their knowledge in their own way.
  2. They give personalized and real-time feedback and can make content accessible.
  3. Ed-tech tools can help audio learners by reading their math problems aloud.
  4. They can make learning in a virtual classroom or at home more interactive and engaging. Through choice, voice and autonomy students can continue to make progress in their learning.
  5. Ed-tech tools help teachers be more efficient, giving more time for one-on-one support. Many tools use data and AI to streamline the often tedious process of grading papers. This makes grading quicker, unbiased and personalized to each student. This digital tool also allows teachers to give instant feedback and scoring—helping to close the feedback loop.

This school year, it is important that we focus on how we can help our teachers close learning gaps. Through the use of ed-tech tools, teachers can spend more time with their students. And students can learn and show their knowledge in their own way.

Martin McKay is the founder and CEO of Texthelp.

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