The pandemic has prompted the entire education industry to undergo a radical shift in the past academic year. From early education to universities, students of all ages have no choice but to take online classes from home, embracing the new learning model. According to a UNESCO-UNICEF-World Bank joint survey, coverage of distance learning in high-income countries reached around 80–85 percent.
During the pandemic, ClassIn has been working closely with schools and tutoring businesses to sustain learning and explore more effective educational methods. Additionally, with initiative and curiosity, we invited educators, teachers, and principals from around the world for webinar discussions on learning approaches, EdTech integration, and more.
In this article, we look to summarize the experiences and discussions from the past academic year, providing insights for educators at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.
Teachers require technical support now more than ever
Under exceptional circumstances, teachers have no choice but to be flexible with teaching models and last-minute curriculum changes while navigating unfamiliar EdTech tools alone. Evidently, International Task Force on Teachers found that “In sub-Saharan Africa, only 64 percent of primary and 50 percent of secondary teachers have received even minimum training, which often does not include basic digital skills.”
The presence of an EdTech coaching culture can help guide teachers to gain confidence, hone their skills, and reflect on their classroom experiences to be more effective in a virtual environment. “What we need to point out is that EdTech coaches are needed more than ever. You need to sustain the practice and integrate technology through having EdTech coaches who will guide teachers, who will help them, observe them go into their virtual classes and able to point out where to improve on,” Mr. Francis Jim Tuscano, the GS EdTech Coordinator of Xavier School San Juan, stated in the webinar “Guiding Teachers to Integrate Tech Meaningfully in the Pandemic”.
“What we need to point out is that EdTech coaches are needed more than ever. You need to sustain the practice and integrate technology through having EdTech coaches who will guide teachers, who will help them, observe them go into their virtual classes and able to point out where to improve on.” -- Mr. Francis Jim Tuscano, GS EdTech Coordinator of Xavier School San Juan
Instructional technology coaching can help teachers integrate technological tools and strategies in meaningful ways that improve teachers’ instructional practices and advance student engagement and learning. In the long term, the goal is to promote the efficacy of teachers and construct an open environment to reflect on concerns and difficulties in virtual classrooms.
Students need opportunities to speak up and collaborate online
In the webinar “Achieve Learning Continuity during the Pandemic: Schoolwide EdTech Solutions”, Thanbeer Kaur, Lecturer at International Languages Teacher Training Institute, shared the difficulties she encountered during online teaching and her solutions accordingly.
Prior to the pandemic, Thanbeer and her students facilitated learning with a range of activities: they would design posters, engage with the public and companies, and take part in talk shows. But the epidemic outbreak forced them to shift these activities online.
Thanbeer had tried all kinds of software to assist her teaching, but the result did not meet her expectation. She felt that the students were not engaged enough. “I noticed that my students and myself missed the connection that face-to-face learning brings that online learning lacked… In online classes, some students do not want to switch on their cameras or even do not have one. So that became my challenge to continue creating real-life engaging activities online; therefore, I created opportunities for students to interact for a real purpose.”
"In online classes, some students do not want to switch on their cameras or even do not have one. So that became my challenge to continue creating real-life engaging activities online; therefore, I created opportunities for students to interact for a real purpose." -- Thanbeer Kaur, Lecturer at International Languages Teacher Training Institute
She started to have her students interview with HR experts online and to receive online public speaking training, which gave them a real purpose to communicate online. In addition to branching out of the classroom, she also asked students to work collaboratively on projects such as video production. Through these activities, students switched their cameras on as they became more engaged in taking an active role in the learning process.
“I would say that having technology at our disposal isn’t enough, but it’s using it to suit our learners’ needs, using it for creating meaningful interaction, and truly understanding its affordances makes a difference,” she concluded.
EdTech can push forward education equity
UNICEF reported that across the globe, 3 out of 4 students who cannot be reached by remote learning opportunities come from rural areas and/or poor households. In remote and underserved regions, it is hard to ensure learning continuity during extraordinary times because of limited access to technology-supported learning opportunities, low motivation among learners and parents to use online learning platforms, and the lack of high-quality digital resources for learning outside of school.
UNICEF reported that across the globe, 3 out of 4 students who cannot be reached by remote learning opportunities come from rural areas and/or poor households.
“Already we know that there are existing inequalities in education opportunities even without the pandemic. And now the web and technology even widened the inequalities in education,” Godwin Bahangondi, CEO of Global Virtual School and Director of Eduln Technologies Limited, expressed his concerns.
However, technologies don’t have to drive the digital gap wider – EdTech companies hold the necessary tools to afford connectivity and accessibility. For instance, at the 2021 ASU+GSV Summit, ClassIn’s COO Sara Gu asserted that “We’ll have more potential to better enable the distribution and integration of digitalized content, including the offline and online class discussions, and also the after-class tasks. In addition, the knowledge generated from the teaching process can be further shared and distributed through ClassIn.”
For a goal as grand as education equity, while EdTech plays an essential role, it takes collaborative and systematic efforts to move forward. Garnering the support of educational institutions and charity organizations, ClassIn has been forming philanthropic partnerships since 2016 to give children of underserved areas access to quality and diverse learning resources.
Reflecting on the past year of remote instruction, we see that educators and students are getting on the right track of a working model of teaching and learning. With improved pedagogies and EdTech tools, online education is no longer a temporary alternative but an established education model for effective and efficient learning.
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*ClassIn is a leading edtech company that provides a one-stop solution for digital learning.
ClassIn software enables interactive classrooms, in-school social app, lesson scheduling, homework management, and school management dashboard, which start free and scale up to meet our customers' needs at any stage of teaching. Today, thousands of schools and institutions around the world benefit from ClassIn's powerful and easy-to-use tools to teach online and offline.