Responses from Stewart Elliot, CEO, Modo Labs.
Because most schools have moved to virtual learning environments in response to COVID-19, what are the likely long-term outcomes of this?
There will be many long-tail outcomes of moving so much online so quickly.
We’ve noticed two. One is the urgent need schools have to keep their community informed and connected in real-time and the need for one source of truth. There are many communication channels, and messaging can quickly become fragmented.
They need to quickly distribute, get quality information directly into the hands of students, staff and community members with no delay and no technology hurdles. The app becomes the hub for everything in a distributed model. Schools are learning now that if they don’t have the central campus experience in an app, they need one. They need a very strong communications system in place for mobile devices, systems that use approved, branded, established applications.
The second is related. No matter how residential a campus was, everything is distributed now. Schools have academic, community and social needs they never imagined they’d have. With school professionals and students spread around the world, being able to make that feel like one unit still, in a way that reaches everyone but does not overwhelm anyone is very important. That lesson is not going to fade either – the need to be able to have one global community no matter where they are.
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?
Distance learning will continue and the campus app will be the cornerstone of learning. Connecting students to the information they need to be successful will continue and it will be more important than ever, as we are seeing now. Keeping students motivated requires real-time dashboards and personalized communications that will automatically nudge them to stay on track academically. Online learning will surely be accelerated post-CV-19 and there will likely be a deeper integration of tools that enable a modern, asynchronous approach to online learning. The mobile app—not the website or LMS—will be the critical connection of systems.
Online learning tools will change in that they need out-of-the box functionality and customization options, along with the ability to easily integrate with learning management systems, enrollment, and finance systems. We will see the app as the bridge between academic and campus life. A good app is as useful off campus as it is on campus.
Could in-classroom learning go the way of the dinosaur or is that panic-stricken hype?
It is too early to forecast that outcome, but I will say that we value community and the experience of being on a college campus. An app can build some of that campus experience digitally, and we have examples of those at Penn State and the University of Central Florida and a hundred other campuses.
But college is a life experience, and learning is still a human experience that we all crave. It is probably a safe assumption that in-classroom learning will return because of the genuine benefits to face-to-face engagement and team collaboration.
In essence, what is the future of classroom-based learning and the technology that plays a role in providing instruction?
We think things will become more connected, more personalized, and generally faster and more efficient. That has been the path of technology generally and we’ve seen it in education too. Soon, not only will class schedules and dining menus be customized for you, your learning will be, also – tailored based on your interests and past performance.
You’ll be able to study on your phone, take a test on your phone, ask professors or classmates questions and find out where to park for the basketball game, all in the same place, all in your unified experience. That’s where we are headed. Some campuses are pretty much there already.