The role and nature of education should constantly evolve with time to match the demands of our rapidly changing society. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this process, with numerous school closures across the world resulting in over 1.2 billion children in 186 countries being out of the classroom. The phenomenal rise of eLearning and edtech has dramatically changed the face of education as we know it. The integration of technology in education has highlighted the benefits of disseminating knowledge across all ages, borders, and parts of society via digital platforms and remote learning programmes.
However, some believe that the rapid and unplanned shift to online learning may hinder the long-term goals with little time for preparation, insufficient bandwidth, and limited training in education technology. This hasty transition could risk poor user experiences and hamper sustainable growth. In fact, our study on students’ satisfaction with remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic found that teachers ‘not using technology effectively’ was one of the biggest challenges of their eLearning experience. As a result, student satisfaction levels dropped to 6.4 out of 10, compared to the 7.1 before the pandemic. Another survey in the same study revealed that about 65% of students would consider switching to a different institution that offers better remote teaching practices.
With remote learning having such a prominent role, it is essential that educators maximise the value of technology in education, in order to facilitate adaptation and retain their students’ motivation.
More than a backup plan
The sudden shift away from the classroom expedited the adoption of online learning, thus conveying the impression that technology is merely useful as a temporary solution during the current situation. Some are still wondering whether eLearning will persevere post-COVID and how that would impact the edtech sector worldwide.
Yet in the pre-pandemic world, many were already beginning to consider the traditional education methods used by many schools to be losing their relevance in our new digital era. Methods that focus on obsolete academic skills and traditional rote learning can fail to provide students with the life skills they will need to succeed in their immediate future. Skills such as creative and critical thinking, adaptability, teamwork, leadership, and IT literacy are necessary not only in the modern workplace but also in university.
When used carefully, technology can go a long way in enhancing the classroom experience and improve learning outcomes. Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of multimedia learning techniques on student learning and motivation. Another study by J-PAL has shown that even the understated act of giving students a tech-assisted nudge — like a quick ping on a messaging app — has a “meaningful, if modest” effect on improving educational outcomes. Furthermore, the J-PAL study also states that expanding access to computers and internet to children in K-12 improves computer proficiency — which may be crucial skills in the burgeoning information economy. Knowing where and how to use technology in the classroom can provide a huge boost to learning and information retention.
Singapore is embracing edtech as the new normal with mandatory home-based learning (HBL) twice per month for secondary school and junior college students starting from Term 3 of 2021. They are also planning to provide all secondary school students with a personal learning device by the end of the year. This emerging hybrid educational model aims to mainstream the beneficial practices that HBL reinforced in students, such as becoming more adaptable, self-directed and independent learners. Taking initiatives to organise themselves and their teams in group-based assignments instilled healthy attitudes and mindsets, while more rest and family time helped reduce their stress levels, meaning they were more productive in their work.
Creating robust virtual classrooms
An effective educational environment is one that provides real benefits from attending a virtual classroom, rather than using it as a stop-gap to replicate physical classes through video capabilities.
Studies show that innovative integration of educational video games has demonstrated increased motivation and higher engagement among students. Educators can make eLearning a fun, engaging and effective process by using innovative tech solutions — such as exploring 3D video game worlds and other immersive, interactive mediums.
The lack of face-to-face interaction can be tackled with a range of tech collaboration tools and engagement methods that promote personalisation, inclusion and intelligence.
The gamification approach has shown enormous potential. It taps into the natural desire for competition and achievement, which teachers can utilise to increase participation and collectivity. Gaming’s element of surprise turns tedious activities into engaging and motivating tasks while also promoting curiosity, creativity, and progression amongst students.
Achieving authenticity and better learning outcomes in the virtual classroom goes beyond basic functionality—it is about delivering a designable and personalised learning experience tailored for each audience.
Using edtech platforms
Although a plethora of edtech tools are now widely used by many educators, a learning management system (LMS) with built-in features can be a key implement for institutions.
Examples include integrated analytics for tracking progress and elements that facilitate content creation and dissemination. Teachers can therefore save time and focus their efforts on bringing value and enhancements to the virtual classroom.
An LMS like the Brightspace platform can open up a world of possibilities on how lessons are designed and conducted. Growing scalability is ensured with a variety of high-tech learning methods, including game-based and inquiry-based learning, and flipped classrooms. A responsive web design provides optimal functionality on any device and browser, further adding to an unparalleled user learning experience.
Education technology is becoming a ground-breaking edification imperative. The move to eLearning can be the catalyst for promoting the creation of more contemporary and effective methods by integrating technology in education. To explore edtech’s full potential and achieve a truly holistic experience in the online classroom, it is incumbent upon educators, institutions, and students alike to embrace technology’s involvement in the future of education.
Ready to discover what student engagement looks like amidst the current learning situations and how they feel should be the way forward to improve long-term education? Check out our whitepaper, Remote learning and the future of post-pandemic education to keep learning.