Responses from Sabari Raja, co-founder and CEO, Nepris.
Because most schools have moved to virtual learning environments in response to COVID-19, what are the likely long-term outcomes of this?
Many school districts were unprepared for long-term remote instruction, and unexpected school closures have shed some light on the need for a robust virtual learning strategy that takes effectiveness and ease of use into account without sacrificing safety. Most districts have struggled with integrating live instruction and have so far only offered asynchronous modes of learning, which creates a huge gap and leaves many kids behind.
Technology solution providers now have an opportunity to step up and help bridge this gap. It’s clear that virtual learning will be the “new normal” moving forward. Technology becomes a must-have in supporting these new models of teaching and learning.
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 experience should permanently shift the educational roadmap, with the continuation of remote learning in some capacity. Physical classrooms are not going to go away anytime soon, but small group instruction and blended models with some in-person classes, combined with remote instruction, could become the new reality. Maybe high school will start looking more like a college campus where students are not stuck to a classroom all day and all week long. They have more flexibility in what classes they take and when they take them.
The biggest issue with adapting to remote learning is classroom management, safety, and security. There is a fear of virtual classrooms due to this lack of control; however, most of these fears can be addressed with adequate teacher training. This summer is going to be a crucial time for districts to choose the right tools, train their teachers, and be prepared to continue distance learning in some capacity going forward. Adequate Teacher PD is going to be a determining factor in the success of adapting to distance learning.
In essence, what is the future of classroom-based learning and the technology that plays a role in providing instruction?
The future could be a hybrid of in-person instruction and technology-driven remote learning. We have an opportunity to use technology not just for teacher-led instruction but also to bring industry connections and real-world learning to students that traditionally had very limited access to people and places outside of their communities. Technology can also provide self-paced learning opportunities for students who don’t do very well in traditional classroom environments.
Virtual learning has been proven to offer the flexibility and adaptability for students who are balancing many things outside of school, whether it is socio-economic factors, the requirements of competitive sports, or different learning styles. These models and tools have been in practice before COVID-19 within a few groups, but now the vast majority have had to embrace these solutions very quickly.
At Nepris, our goal has been to use our expertise in virtual platforms to adapt quickly to provide distance learning tools for virtual classroom, real-world learning, and to support virtual summer events, such as internships and job shadows, while keeping in mind that successful teacher training is vital.