Long-Term Effects of Education and Technology Because of COVID-19

Responses from Adam Garry, senior director of education strategy, Dell Technologies.

Because most schools have moved to virtual learning environments in response to COVID-19, what are the likely long-term outcomes of this?

A: A likely outcome is that schools will realize that virtual learning should be a component of every student’s learning journey, but fully online will not work for most.  In the rush to move online, many educators are learning that what they had to do in 14 days should really take months. The K–12 school systems that already solved for access and moved toward blended learning had a much easier time shifting. As a result, we will likely see a strong push for access and blended learning going into next school year. School systems and higher education institutions will build for the future with blended environments as a core component of design and this will allow for the educator and student to have a smooth transition into fully online learning whenever they may choose.

Also, moving forward the technology leader will be seen as an essential part of the leadership team, if they haven’t been already.  Administrators are realizing that learning simply can’t happen without the support of IT and, therefore, we should anticipate technology leaders in education will have a voice to support all decisions that impact the vision and the day-to-day work.  These leaders will need to look beyond just the devices and think about the infrastructure needed to support learning anytime, anywhere.

Will more schools embrace distance learning once we’re beyond the pandemic? If so, what will that look like? Will some educational entities move beyond physical classrooms altogether?

This is a question that came up on one of our recent CIO chats that we host and the answer is maybe.  I don’t think that it will be embraced as it is being designed right now because most school systems and institutions are rushing to get something created to support their learners and likely would do things differently with more time.

But I think we will see collaborative work happen across the education spectrum to create courses and curriculum that can be implemented in ways that take advantage of face-to-face and online learning. This will allow schools and universities to redefine how they use physical space and tailor more toward the actual learning.

For example, students working in a collaborative group on a project might need a smaller space in the library with a white board, laptops, internet connection, and a screen to share. While other students are in a lecture hall getting new information via a Socratic seminar. Also, we might rethink how we use projects and playlists to support personalized learning that defines mastery with application of learning, so all learners have an opportunity to show learning in unique ways.

There will likely always be an element of classroom learning at a physical school, however, that will likely look very different in coming years as pedagogy and technology continue to evolve in new ways to empower learners.

In-classroom learning remains essential until we can solve the issue of equity. We still have students and teachers that do not have the correct devices or broadband access for virtual learning. We’re seeing schools grappling with how to conduct special education or help ESL students with a balance of synchronous and asynchronous virtual learning.

Additionally, in-classroom learning provides additional social and societal benefits including school lunches, after school programs and a safe space for children in less ideal home situations.

It also remains essential because learners are social, and the physical building creates opportunities for collaboration and learning that wouldn’t be possible if we were all working in remote locations.

In essence, what is the future of classroom-based learning and the technology that plays a role in providing instruction?

I am not sure that the vision for the future has changed; I just think we have a new sense of urgency.  School systems and institutions are still moving toward a definition of personalized learning that gives students some voice and choice in the learning process.  This requires access to technology and the internet at home. If we can solve the inequities that exist today for our learners, then we will be able to shift to environments that provide true blended learning and remove time and space as the barriers.  Learners will be involved in competency-based models that allow them to learn at their own pace. The university will become a hub for life-long learning and students will move in and out based on short and long term goals that they set with an advisor. In the end, we will utilize technology as the platform to enable great innovation and shift the model of learning to meet the needs of all learners.

COVID-19 and Education: Long-Term Effects

Responses from Brian Galvin, chief academic officer, Varsity Tutors.

Will more schools embrace distance learning once we’re beyond the pandemic? If so, what will that look like? Will some educational entities move beyond physical classrooms altogether?

While we in ed tech have been thrilled to see students engaging with interactive, personalized content, the other side of the story – and likely the bigger story – is that everyone is realizing just how integral physical schools and teachers are to daily life. We’ve seen the importance of the meals they provide to at-risk students, the way that kids crave the socialization and recreation aspects of the school day, the sheer awe that parents have for teachers having had to walk a few miles in their shoes each day. I don’t think we’ll get to the end of this and be ready to replace physical schools anytime soon; if anything it seems like we’ll have a newfound appreciation for schools and teachers.

What I think will change are a few things: For one, distance learning for supplemental education will boom. Parents are seeing even the youngest kids fully engage in online reading and math programs, fully comfortable with the technology and as a Virtual School Day kindergarten reading teacher put it ‘when they get to talk in front of classmates on a webcam they feel like little celebrities on TV.’ We’ll see online summer and after school programs surge for educational enrichment, not just for remediation. A full day of summer school, for example, is a drag; an hour of reading a few mornings per week, however – with parents not having to drive across town to make it happen – is a recipe for turning summer slide into a summer acceleration.

We’ll also see more and more assignments move online to become personalized and adaptive. When kids receive assignments that adapt to their ability level to keep them challenged but not bored or overwhelmed, homework is more efficient and much less tedious.  When programs can remember which skills a student should see again in certain increments — and serve those skills up in small but significant doses – short-term memory becomes long-term mastery. Every ed tech company that has its act together is investing in personalized learning, in creating more content to allow for more adaptivity — when we get through this period we’ll find that much like World War II left us with a surplus of manufacturing capacity, COVID-19 will have left us with lots of personalized learning capacity for schools to tap into.

And we’ll see affordable, small-group personalized learning boom, too. At Varsity Tutors we’re watching classroom teachers flock to online teaching to fill their days and bolster their bank accounts — and they love it. And we’re seeing parents grateful for free online classes and adaptive lesson plans, but craving some personalized attention on particular learning objectives.

One response we’ve had to that is to create a small-group tutoring program, where parents can split the cost of one-on-one tutoring with other families to create really affordable small group sessions. And we’re working to help parents identify other families with learners looking for the same instruction at the same level so that we can not only pass along the savings, but organize meaningful, personalized instruction. That’s tough to do without a large pool of families each seeking out particular assistance so that there are matches — and great instructors — for each. But COVID-19 has created that critical mass, and what we’re seeing is that as people see the benefit, they’re eager to continue it through summer vacation, into the next school year, and beyond.

Schools — not to mention teachers — has so many benefits to our way of life that they’re not in danger of being wholesale replaced anytime soon. This era will certainly steer schools toward more and better technology usage in classrooms and for assignments, but when that first bell rings after quarantines are lifted, most students and parents will be thrilled to get back to normalcy.

What we’ll likely see, however, is a lot of schools develop distance learning plans for things like snow days or elective classes — if a school can’t afford to offer as many Advanced Placement classes as students might like, for example, distance learning has proven to be a viable way of aggregating a handful of students from each of a dozen or more schools and offering that class where it might not have been a possibility before.  Summer school might become more of an option that way, too — much like a college student might knock out a class like organic chemistry at a local community college over the summer to avoid a stressful semester, high schoolers may add to their transcript with one class each summer. We’ll see online education supplement the classic school routine, and add a lot of benefits to students who can take advantage of more options and modalities. But that bell is going to ring to start the 2020-21 school year and people are going to rejoice.

In essence, what is the future of classroom-based learning and the technology that plays a role in providing instruction?

There’s no doubt that 1) the world is having educational technology forced on it right now and 2) the vast majority of people are going to really like it, or at least really like certain portions of it. So this era will leave a legacy, to be sure. But while we’ve been talking about the flipped classroom and the completely online high school for years now, the research shows that the standard school experience is still more effective in most cases and we’re also seeing the societal benefits of in-person schools, too. So for the near and medium term, we’ll see technology enhance and supplement the traditional school experience – but not replace it.  Technology offers immense opportunities for personalization – whether adaptive assignments, small groups focused on similar ability bands, or diverse offerings to fit interests and abilities – and we’ll see school districts avail some of that potential and lots of parents tap into the supplemental education aspect of it, as well.

The Future of Online Learning

Responses from Adrian Ridner, CEO and co-founder, Study.com.

Adrian Ridner | CEO and Co-founder of Study.comWill more schools embrace distance learning once we’re beyond the pandemic? 

Absolutely. It’s paving the way out of necessity. This situation forced schools and districts to consider how technology can work hand in hand with teachers. I don’t think online learning will replace the in-person, teacher-student relationship, but we are seeing how it can extend learning beyond the classroom. Stress-testing system capabilities for the future including the infrastructure and specifics like Single Sign On are now fully utilized and tested – creating habits of how to evolve learning moving forward.

If so, what will that look like? Will some educational entities move beyond physical classrooms altogther?

We won’t see physical classrooms disappear, but a blend of synchronous and asynchronous learning will take place. I’ve heard from districts that say online learning is really helping the students blend the two as students can do things now like rewind their teacher to hear a specific thought again. Also, I think you will see platforms expand their accessibility by offering multiple modalities. For example, Study.com is a mobile-first platform, but also provides more traditional learning tools such as downloadable worksheets and transcripts. Video-based online learning will continue to expand, whether that is a web conferencing tool such as Zoom that allows teachers to virtually interact with students or curriculum that is packaged into engaging video lessons.

I don’t believe online learning will completely take over in-class learning, but it will continue to become a vital part of how students learn. I think this current situation challenged schools and districts to not only provide short-term solutions for virtual learning environments, but to consider how to implement a hybrid classroom approach utilizing technology and human interaction. The mass adoption that has been enabled by this situation will break down barriers and make schools less apprehensive to adopt technologies moving forward – something that prior to this had been a slow moving process.

These new ways of learning are creating access, personalization of learning and new technology to help teachers and parents, creating opportunity to re-imagine the classroom learning and give teachers more tools in the tool kit. Technology can really bring lessons to life through video-based learning. This pandemic has shown that it’s time to re-imagine what you can do with a physical classroom.

In essence, what is the future of classroom-based learning and the technology that plays a role in providing instruction?

The future will be a lot of mix and matching of the best of both worlds. There are ways of learning and discussions that are better designed for in the classroom, but now everybody has more learning technology to fuel lessons taught in the classroom. For example, history lessons in a video format are much easier to visualize and become stickier for the learner than a textbook or lecture.

There are also a lot of considerations including equity, quality, flexibility and adaptability. Fourteen percent of households with school-aged children do not have access to the internet, and creating technology, such as a mobile-first platform that can be accessible to these families will be paramount. This situation has forced the education industry to work on closing the equity gap – providing 1:1 student to device access.

Virtual Learning Environments In Response To COVID-19

Vikram Savkar

Responses from Vikram Savkar,  vice president and general manager, medical segment, Wolters Kluwer’s Health Learning, Research, and Practice business.

Because most schools have moved to virtual learning environments in response to COVID-19, what are the likely long-term outcomes of this?

Time in the classroom, small group interactions, labs, and so on will always remain an important part of the medical school experience. But medical school faculty have long employed an online component to their classes by capturing their lectures and posting them online and recording narrated PowerPoints for students to consult. And the current crisis is significantly expanding the demand for digital tools.  Many students left campus in such a hurry that they did not take textbooks home with them. As a result, we have had many schools that had not already subscribed to our digital learning tools inquire about how they can quickly get access. Wolters Kluwer responded by offering 90-day free access to these collections to help medical schools and students navigate through unprecedented and painful disruptions.

What faculty and students alike are discovering during this disruption, out of necessity, is that online medical education can be surprisingly effective. They are realizing that illustrated textbooks, quizzes and exams, medical board preparation, case studies and so on are all available through online tools, and in many cases these tools can open up new educational benefits.

Some products, for instance, allow instructors to assess how students are performing, and to zero in on students who may be struggling to grasp a subject, so that quick remediation can be employed. Even anatomy classes – which one might suppose could not possibly be virtualized – are being transitioned rapidly during the disruption to powerful visualization digital tools, and the instructors we are speaking to are surprised and delighted by how effective they can be.

When this disruption is past, and med students return to their classrooms in the fall, I doubt classrooms will fully return to “the way things were.”  My assumption is that, in the wake of COVID-19, medical schools will have begun a path of willing transition toward robust integration of digital learning tools into the curriculum, a path that will play out over several years but constantly accelerate.

Will more schools embrace distance learning once we’re beyond the pandemic? If so, what will that look like? Will some educational entities move beyond physical classrooms altogether?

The medical school curriculum has already undergone significant changes in recent years, incorporating team-based activities, problem-based learning and a flipped classroom approach. And as mentioned above, I do envision that uptake of online tools will now advance gradually beyond online lecture and narrated PowerPoint to encompass digital textbooks, assessment solutions, test prep tools, visualization platforms and so on, all of which will push some of the basal learning elements of medical school out of the classrooms and into the students’ private study time.

This transition will enable time in the classroom to be used even more than today as a forum for discussion and assessment, and a place to learn by doing in order facilitate mastery of advanced content. It may even free up more time for early-stage students to get practical, hands-on experience with patients, which is an increasing area of focus across the medical school community.  But all of this simply represents an evolution toward balancing the timeless strengths of classroom education (direct contact with expert instructors, peer learning and so on) with the benefits of digital tools (personalization, self-paced learning, immersive study).

As for pure distance learning, that is a more complicated question. I do think most medical schools will set up digital webcasting capabilities moving forward, so that if there are further disruptions and periods of social distancing, they will be able to rapidly and effectively transition classes to a distance mode. But I don’t envision many medical schools making a significant move toward pure distance education in the near future except during periods of massive disruption like the one we are experiencing now.  As I’ll cover in more detail below, the classroom and campus aspect of the medical school experience is core to what medical students learn and how they learn.

Continue Reading

Tools4ever Joins the Student Data Privacy Consortium To Address Growing Data Privacy Concerns

No-Nonsense Identity Governance and Administration | Tools4ever

Tools4ever, a leading provider of identity and access management solutions in education, announces its membership to the Student Data Privacy Consortium (SDPC). The SDPC is a collaborative of schools; districts; regional, territories and state agencies; policymakers; trade organizations; and marketplace providers. SDPC strives to address real-world, adaptable, and implementable solutions aimed at data privacy concerns.

The Consortium also leverages work done by numerous partner organizations but focuses on issues being faced by “on-the-ground” practitioners. To this end, Tools4ever, an active leader in student data privacy, is strengthening its commitment to this call by becoming a vendor member of the SDPC.

“Tools4ever has served schools and districts for more than 20 years through our identity and access governance solutions, so this collaboration marks a natural culmination of our efforts in the sector,” said Tom Mowatt, managing director of Tools4ever. “The SDPC has a phenomenal group of participants, and we are pleased to work alongside them.”

The SDPC is designed to address the day-to-day, multi-faceted issues that schools, states, territories, and vendors face when protecting learner information in the real world. The organization works to develop common activities, artifacts, templates, tools, and effective practices that can be leveraged through a collaboration of end-users and marketplace providers, including information security vendors like Tools4ever.

“The Student Data Privacy Consortium is inspired by the increasing number of educational stakeholders joining the community and showing their commitment to student data privacy,” said Penny Murray, the community director of SDPC. “With schools, states, and vendor members collaborating in the development of shared Data Privacy Agreements (DPA), the community is reducing burdens and streamlining contracting processes.

“An increasing number of vendors are recognizing the importance of showcasing their applications through the SDPC Resource Registry and we are delighted to welcome Tools4ever into the community,” Murray added.

For further information about the SDPC, visit https://privacy.A4L.org.

Virtual Learning In the Age of Pandemic

Responses from Provost and vice president academic affairs, Dr. Pamela J. Gent, and interim associate provost, Dr. David H. Hartley, of Clarion University of Pennsylvania.

Because most schools have moved to virtual learning environments in response to COVID-19, what are the likely long-term outcomes of this?

Pamela J. Gent, Ph.D.Dr. Gent: All universities and colleges are going to be impacted financially because they have had to refund tuition, room, and board, and theyhave had to invest in online infrastructure. Universities and colleges cannotdo their traditional recruiting events and campus visit events, so this also can impact enrollment. Retention is an issue and some students, especially our lower income and first generation students, may not be able to return to school. They simply won’t be able to afford it. Or they may opt to live at home and continue to learn online. Some students, who had never done online learning, may find that they like online learning and will transfer to a school with online learning. I also think that some universities that were never in the online space in the past will move more aggressively into the space and we will see a plethora of online programs.

Dr. Hartley: Long term, the schools that have made the smoothest and most student centered moves to online will develop a strong positive reputation for this type of content delivery. Those who stumble, will have a PR battle to overcome. There is an “opportunity” here. Some large corporations have an internal culture that sees online learning, especially for-profit online institutions as sub-par. Because those executives are now being forced into telecommuting, are hearing from the students in their house how online instruction is working, we may see a greater acceptance of high-caliber graduates from online institutions, providing the rigor is maintained.

Q: Will more schools embrace distance learning once we’re beyond the pandemic? If so, what will it look like?

Dr. Gent: It depends. Distance learning is simply not part of the mission or the ethos of some universities. And, after this semester, some faculty and students have vowed that they will never teach or learn virtually again. Still others wille mbrace this opportunity to expand into new markets. This pandemic has spurred increased use of pay-for-services in online tutoring, online counseling, and other online support services. This will continue togrow.

Dr. Hartley: I believe that the “ice is broken.” Some schools will walkout of this and say, “Never again.” That’s a perfect response for that school’s climate and culture. Other schools will walk out of it and say, “Hey, we can do this!” In the end, opportunities for on campus, online, part-time, working adults, and life-long learners will expand.

Q: Will some educational entities move beyond physical classrooms altogether?

Dr. Gent: It depends. Some universities are taking such a big financial hit that they will need to close their physical classrooms and operate solely online. But eliminating all face-to-face classes will not guarantee financial success. For campuses in rural areas, there is little market for the land and buildings so universities cannot shed these. They will have to continue to do some basic maintenance of the physical plant. And, as many have discovered in the past month, maintaining an online infrastructure is costly in terms of equipment, server capacity, learning management systems, instructional designers, online student support systems, etc.

Dr. Hartley: Commercially backed programs with deep pockets may see an opening in the market to go national. I believe that opportunity is fairly limited. Regional institutions may seize this as an opportunity to expand and reach out to new populations of students. For a “bricks and mortar” institution to move to 100% online would be a stretch; however, online students are attracted to online programs that have grounding in a physical location withreal classrooms and resident faculty. There should be opportunities for schools to expand while maintaining their campus.

Q: Could in-classroom learning go the way of the dinosaur or is that panic-stricken hype?

Dr. Gent: It’s panic stricken hype. There will always be a market for students who want to have a four-year residential campus experience. We know, however, that this market is shrinking because 1) there are fewer traditional age students in most parts of the country, and 2) costs have increased to the point where more students are opting out of higher education altogether or opting out of the traditional live on campus model of higher education. That being said, this pandemic will fundamentally change in-classroom learning.  Technology will be more prominent. Learning management systems will used to supplement in-class learning. Students will demand more options.

Dr. Hartley: Humans are social beings. While I have friends I’ve made through Facebook connections, I also maintain friendships built through the“crucible” of academia and my time in the military. The gathering of folks andthe common effort/common experience creates bonds that aren’t easily replicatedthrough online learning. There are other models, for example bringing cohorts onto campus for short periods of time then releasing them to go back to their jobs and homes to continue learning. These cohorts help create the bonds offriendship and professional networks that can extend beyond the classroom. We automate and we innovate. There is a physical skill honed by doing titrations in a chemistry lab but … if industry has automated this task, then the value is in understanding the process, but not in a certain “skill set” one brings to an automated, industrial lab. There is also tactile learning in anatomy and physiology labs, biology labs, etc. Some of the laboratory sciences will be difficult to replicate for those majors. Flip side is, your average business major probably doesn’t need a biology class with a lab. Finally, students! High school graduates have a wide range of maturity and self-efficacy. Many struggle with the transition from high school to college. If we add the need to be a self-directed learner, becuase of  the nature of online learning, we will “spin off” those students who need that first or second year of classes to learn how to be a self-directed learner. All that to say, no. We will not see in-class learning disappear any time soon.

Q: In essence, what is the future of classroom-based learning and the technology that plays a role in providing instruction?

Dr. Hartley: Disruptions like this current pandemic, will foster some real innovations. What are they? If I knew I’d invest in them and make up some of the losses in my retirement fund! Blended classes (some students participating or watching online, some students in the classroom) are already happening at Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Yet, there needs to be betterways to deliver this kind of instruction. The idea of watching a 50 minute lecture online … please, no. So how do we innovate this? Who does the innovation? Professors are rarely thespians, producer, director, humorist, screen play author, AND well-respected subject matter expert with a wealth of peer reviewed journal articles in their field. There is certainly potential growth in the area of “content delivery.” How do we create an environment where professors can teach and expand the research in their field, yet students can have the content delivered in a way that best suits the student’s learning style? Clarion University of Pennsylvania is a teaching institution. The interaction between student and professor is key to why we attract certain students and certain professors to our university. So we have to figure out how to do all of this technology while maintaining the culture of the institutionand the personal touch our professors and students enjoy.

Long-Term Effects of Education Because of Coronavirus

Jon Roepke - Director of Product Management - Belkin International ...Responses from Jon Roepke, director of product management, Belkin International, Inc.

Because most schools have moved to virtual learning environments in response to COVID-19, what are the likely long-term outcomes of this?

The impacts from COVID-19 are yet to be fully understood. Among them, we are already experiencing changes to emergency planning protocols and training, planning for students, families tackling challenges to distance and online learning.

Although there are promising shifts toward experimental virtual learning efforts, the pandemic is forcing quick adoption of virtual learning on a wide scale out of sheer necessity. It’s one massive experiment where we’ll see the ways it can work, and the ways it doesn’t such as ensuring students actually show up to (virtual) class! One thing is for certain, students are going to become Zoom experts.

Another related outcome that we see signs of is a new wave of technology innovations and services catering to an always-on-virtual learning environment. Investors and VCs are re-evaluating where to put their money in this current climate and are adjusting investments to companies addressing core infrastructure issues. Education definitely fits that bill.

Will more schools embrace distance learning once we’re beyond the pandemic? If so, what will that look like? Will some educational entities move beyond physical classrooms altogether?

We’ve ramping up distance learning adoption over the past decade. Challenges are largely tied to income and technology disparity where private or charter schools are able to more readily support this model. While distance learning could bring new and engaging ways to conduct a classroom, it also opens up broader questions about what will replace in-person social activities, virtual group projects, and more. Socialization is still an important part of growing up and education.

What’s next for education?

Over time, we will likely move to a hybrid mode. In-classroom learning serves a multitude of purposes that include crucial learning but also a place for kids to socialize with other children. If everything moves virtual and online it would still require some sort of supervision depending on the age group. There are successful virtual classroom models that work with smaller groups of students, resembling an alternate type of home schooling.

In essence, what is the future of classroom-based learning and the technology that plays a role in providing instruction?

The future has to be interactive. We’re already seeing momentum in edutainment with VR and AR experimental learning. We expect this to increase and have heard from teachers all across the country who are very excited about the educational potential these technologies can provide. No longer are students and their imaginations limited by what’s in the textbook – why read about the pyramids when you can be transported in front of them for a virtual field trip? VR headsets and gear will become as common as Chromebooks and tablets already are in the classroom.

Virtual Learning Environments During COVID-19

Anant Agarwal
Anant Agarwal

Responses from Anant Agarwal, CEO and founder of edX.

Following the shift to virtual learning environments during COVID-19, what does the future hold for classroom-based learning and the technology that plays a role in providing instruction?

During this pandemic, much of the world has transitioned to remote learning, demonstrating the rapid evolution of the education landscape. While a new concept to some, here at edX, a nonprofit online learning platform, we’ve seen a shift towards education technology platforms even before the pandemic started, and we predict virtual learning will continue to gain momentum, as learners and educators everywhere realize its wide array of benefits, whether in unusual circumstances like these, or in normal times.

With the aid of technology and the creation of these learning platforms, we aim to shift the mindset to a lifelong, modular approach rather than the typical, stove piped two- six-year trajectory for a degree. When we founded edX, we did so with the mission to make high-quality education more accessible to more people by eliminating barriers like cost, location, and time.

An invaluable benefit of this platform has been to facilitate engagement with our learners on their own time – providing real-time interactions, lessons, and collaboration between these students and their instructors and peers.

Online learning platforms like edX enable quality learning through video distribution, assessments with instant feedback, and social networks that promote stimulating discussions – all occurring at scale and easily accessible by the masses who choose to use them. If there’s one major benefit, simply put, it’s the efficiency that virtual learning platforms have created.

Will more schools embrace distance learning once we’re beyond the pandemic, and if so, what will that look like? 

We think that the adoption of distance or online learning will happen faster as a result of the pandemic, as both learners and educators begin to see the many benefits associated with this method. While a few universities will still go back to purely traditional approaches, we predict many will start to adopt and deploy the use of omnichannel learning or blended learning, where campus students will routinely use both online and in-person learning.

Universities will also begin to adopt stackable, modular credentials as building blocks to a full degree. These credentials will allow learners to quickly build transferrable, in-demand skills needed to keep up with the digital transformation that has caused a major skills gap in today’s workforce.

Universities will also begin to leverage one of the most important contributions of technology for education – the network effect. Universities will begin to share modular content with each other and build upon each other’s work. edX’s recently launched, edX Online Campus, which will help universities in this endeavor.

Continue Reading

Distance Learning In the Era of COVID-19

Learn, School, Student, MathematicsResponse from David Wills, educational consultant, www.ielts-teaching.com.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak first garnered attention in January 2020, the world has undergone immense changes, with an increasing reliance upon software such as Skype and Zoom affecting many industries. Education is one of those fields, and many are asking – quite understandably – whether this will become the new normal, or whether it is just a quaint fad.

All around the world, students of all ages are being forced to take to the digital classroom as their schools are temporarily closed to prevent the further spread of the disease. It has become suddenly apparent that it is possible to have a single teacher in a remote location teaching students scattered across vast geographical areas. This raises of the question of whether – once the COVID-19 crisis finally ends – there is any need to go back to traditional modes of education or communication.

Certainly, it is understandable that many might now think this. COVID-19 has forced us to reconsider many aspects of our lives and rely increasingly upon the internet and other modern technologies. We are left to wonder what will happen when this is all over – will things go back to normal, or will we be forever shaped by this pandemic?

As millions of students around the world begin learning online, people are asking whether this will become the standard way of learning. It is a reasonable assumption. After all, the cost and convenience of learning via Skype or Zoom is a massive boost over more old-fashioned approaches. But don’t go thinking that in-class learning has gone the way of the dinosaur just yet. We are a long way from being ready for that sort of huge societal shift.

Even if it were possible to conduct all classes via the internet, one still wonders whether it would actually be desirable. Say every high school and university on Earth was able to immediately convert their curricula to be taught entirely online … Would parents, students, or teachers find this to be at all beneficial? From a cost standpoint, yes, but from every other standpoint, no.

Continue Reading

Long-Term Effects On Education Because of Coronavirus

Response from Lauren Schmitz, founder and blogger, thesimplehomeschooler.com

I am getting ready to start my fourth year of homeschooling and I specialize in helping families get started with homeschooling.

I have seen a huge (rather predictable) surge in my blog traffic and email subscriber list since coronavirus – as have all of my homeschool blogging friends at iHomeschoolNetwork.

When the Coronavirus epidemic has passed, I think the landscape of education will have changed, but not as significantly as you are proposing.

Teachers and schools being forced to put together a framework for online learning will now be a blueprint for future snow days, blizzard warning, extended illnesses, or any other disasters. As opposed to scheduling school out into the summer, school will be done at home. And everyone will be much more accustomed to the idea.

But, classroom instruction will absolutely not go away. Parents will need to work, now more than ever, as we recover from the economic issues caused by the pandemic. As much as I wish homeschooling and distance learning could work for everybody, it’s not reality.

Younger kids especially need interaction and hands on learning to internalize new concepts such as reading and math. Older students may also struggle with the loneliness of distance learning and disconnect from other students and teachers.

What about students that can’t afford to have a computer at home? Or afford wifi?

What do we do with special needs children who require learning assistance?

What about students who depend on school to provide their meals during the day?

And let us not forget that school is much more than the academic side of things. What about sports? Band practice? Choir? Shop class? Student government? School plays? There are many things offered in school these days that could never be translated over a computer.

I have listened to people talk for years about how homeschooling could never work because of the “socialization” issues. I am an engaged parent who has tons of time to ensure my 8, 6, and 4 year old are properly socialized. Will that be true of every other parent? I don’t think so. For many reasons. Going to completely online schooling will continue the social issues that already plague our society.

That being said, I do think the rates of homeschoolers will continue to rise as they have for years. I work with parents who are struggling with making the final decision to start homeschooling, and I think coronavirus is the catalyst that will push many of them to finally start their homeschools. Once they finally start, they will enjoy all the benefits of teaching their children at home, and stick with it.

Parents who had no intention of homeschooling, will likely go right back to life as normal as soon as possible.

I do believe that colleges may use more of an online presence.- if a situation presents itself that requires distance learning. But I think colleges will stay predominately the same. Why? Now more than ever, adults want to be together. We want to talk, debate, bounce ideas off each other, get together after class, and form study groups. When the restrictions for corona virus are lifted, I can’t imagine colleges continuing the with the painful social distancing we have already endured.