Since March last year, schools, colleges, students, and teachers have been on a roller coaster. They have seen their traditional education methods turned upside down with school closures, compelling everyone to quickly adapt to the new remote learning environment and teaching practices that were thrust upon them.
However, the available technology has enabled students to thrive and continue their learning despite the change in dynamic and the challenges they have faced. It is not only students who have been able to flourish due to the ever-growing and improving edtech resources; educators and educational institutions have also benefitted from the support these resources have offered.
The traditional routine of commuting into school with a backpack full of schoolbooks and sitting in a classroom all day has gone out the window under Covid-19.
To continue learning, students have had to adapt to new ways of teaching through online resources that they can access remotely. Change is a challenge for all of us, not least young people, for whom learning can be difficult enough without the additional twist of having to self-motivate themselves to learn at home with methods of teaching they are not used to. However, the resources available to students to continue their learning throughout the pandemic have more than proven their worth.
Many schools began to implement learning management systems (LMS), through which they could set lesson tasks, receive submissions of work, provide feedback, as well as live-stream lessons, which were then available to be watched at a later date if a student was unable to attend a class or simply wanted to revisit it. This is great for helping students to reinforce their understanding of a topic. Critically, it enables teachers to monitor student attendance and keep track of their progress, ensuring students are keeping to their timetables and engaging with lessons. Working remotely also develops independent learning skills. Students will often have less contact time with teaching staff than when in the classroom, particularly with many schools having to adapt so quickly to teaching online.
Gamified learning is an additional edtech tool that has grown in popularity and proven hugely beneficial for students learning independently. As it is based around the idea of building a growth mindset, students are encouraged to repeatedly try to overcome challenges despite any initial failure, which naturally supports and encourages effective, independent learning. For example, students can learn about a complex math topic, such as algebra, in a fun and interactive online game that encourages them to complete quizzes for rewards. In doing so, students are more incentivized to continue practicing and learning through the game, as opposed to learning about algebra in a textbook. Exploring alternative learning methods, such as gamified learning, can be an effective way of reaching students who struggle with conventional classroom methods.
Pioneers of online learning and online resources will gladly say, if there is one good thing to come out of this hugely difficult time, it has been the growth in awareness of edtech. It has also presented students and educators alike with the opportunity to reimagine what education could — and ought to look like — to provide the best teaching and learning experience for students.
Despite this growth, however, the pandemic has not been plain sailing for online education providers. The sharp increase in demand in such a short period of time meant organizations had to swiftly adapt, with some concerned whether or not they would be able to meet the growing demands and whether the systems they had in place would be able to provide their students with the necessary resources to cope.
However, just as technology has supported students during the pandemic, it has also helped those providing the resources.
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LMSs have enabled online education providers to grow their offerings and meet the demands of remote teaching and learning. For example, as student numbers increased, so did the need for a greater variety of courses, whether at different levels or in different subjects. Learning platforms have further enabled educators to add in new courses to meet not only the general demand but the demand for a breath of different classes.
LMSs also contain features that allow you to build quizzes and tasks for students that can be adapted to different subjects, enabling educators to quickly develop new tasks and resources. Some also have an equation editor feature which helps to write questions and build maths challenges for students. These quizzes and the feedback can then all be provided on the platform, where progress can be monitored, and parents are able to easily see how their child is performing.
The numerous different strands of an LMS can provide educators with more freedom and time to deliver personalized learning support for students, as they can plan and schedule specific content more efficiently, giving them additional time to offer individual support.
With blended learning seemingly growing as the favored option for many schools to continue teaching throughout the pandemic and beyond, implementing an LMS is paramount if this is to be done effectively and successfully.
Graham Glass is CEO of Cypher Learning.