Rahim Hirji, UK country manager at leading online learning platform and app, Quizlet (www.quizlet.com) comments on education in a post-COVID environment:
COVID-19 and its impact on driving remote learning has undoubtedly sped up the education technology adoption curve. Almost overnight, 2 billion students could no longer attend schools and universities, the shock of this seismic shift set in, and so, education institutions had no choice but to leverage technology to help bridge the learning gap and globally rounded out on:
Learning Management Systems (LMS) such as Google Classroom, Canvas and Microsoft teams to deliver Synchronous Classes and act as a conduit to:
- Content Platforms from publishers
- Digital Learning and Study Tools like Quizlet and Century Tech to support the learning of a student
Hybrid working and the education system
We are at the cusp of a new wave of education, where students will benefit in different ways from the role of the teacher, depending on whether the class is live or in a remote setting. In both cases, teachers can, and should, be supported by technology to deliver outstanding education. Over the next couple of years, educational institutions need to be able to deliver learning outcomes whether students are locked down at home or within the classroom. In many cases, teachers may need to deliver schooling across both. As a result, edtech becomes the glue in the process of supporting consistent learning.
The pandemic has highlighted the real benefit of technology within education in the following ways:
- Technology can be helpful in scaling up quality instruction using prerecorded lessons and videos.
- Technology can facilitate differentiated instruction and create personalised learning paths for educators.
- Technology creates expanded opportunities for students to practice with questions.
- Technology can help student engagement with interactive tools more akin to gaming and fun – which also supports learning.
With this forced period of disruption due to remote learning, the education system has definitely had to make the quick decision to more closely align with technology solutions, and it’s likely just the beginning as we witness the needs of teachers and students over the coming year.
One of the key areas that must be addressed and paid attention to is the security risk of data. Both student data and their learning data can be at risk if not thoughtfully considered, and institutions, educators and parents need to be mindful that the technology they choose for their students have strong privacy rules that meet and exceed GDPR.
The use of machine learning within education is how Quizlet Plus is built, creating personalised learning journeys for students by adapting revision activities based on what the student needs to learn. This allows students to learn more effectively – akin to having a personal tutor – but at a fraction of the cost. This kind of scaled approach to education, which is personalised, is happening elsewhere whether you’re learning on a MOOC like Futurelearn or through a platform like BYJU’s.
Another area of importance in the realms of edtech development is the application of technology like AR and VR within the context of education, but we will start to see different content areas gaining more prominence and being delivered in different ways. One example is mixed delivery platforms, such as EtonX, to teach soft skills but also offer live tutoring in coding. As in other digitised businesses, the concept of “live” will become premium and technologies such as WebRTC will play a key role in synchronous delivery, but other tools will fulfil other goals.
Challenges facing the education sector
One of the structural issues associated with technology in education is the perception that the adoption of technology is to forsake other areas, such as instruction. As we have seen over this unique year, that doesn’t have to be the case – but globally, the use of technology in education is going to be governed by affordability and by the governments’ willingness to invest in technology, as well as the ease of use for teachers and their students.
Supporting students from lower economic backgrounds
There is an obvious gap in education, which is divided between those who have regular and consistent access to technology and materials and those who do not. For some, there may only be one laptop or mobile device within the household with multiple children who need to be homeschooled or don’t have any regular access to technology for schoolwork and revision. As the cost of devices continues to fall, and real strides are made into making the internet accessible to virtually everyone, whether it’s through 4G and 5G or via public wifi networks, I think we are starting to bridge some of these gaps in education.