Articles

Education Technology

Op-Ed

Why Educators Should Prepare for Remote Learning Environments Post-COVID

By Rich Henderson
June 03, 2020

About 1 billion students are currently impacted globally due to school closures – and some do not have the proper access and technology to continue their education from home for the remainder of the school year. To address this digital divide, school districts across the country are scrambling to get devices for all their faculty and students. Many have done so quickly and at scale. Distance learning programs (and the technology to support them) have become a necessity due to the global pandemic, but remote learning environments will likely continue to be part of the education ecosphere in the future, even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

It is likely that this current surge in distance learning will have a long-term positive effect on education as districts, students, and parents manage a new digital era. Digital transformation was already at play the classroom, with many teachers taking advantage of new innovations in edtech – from virtual reality solutions to device-based learning. With COVID-19 quickly forcing schools to be remote, it is clear we need even more powerful and flexible solutions that enable a blended learning experience—one that translates easily to in person learning when students can safely return to the classroom.

Remote Learning Is Here to Stay

To enable students and teachers in today’s remote learning environment and a potential blended learning landscape in the future, schools and districts must have secure platforms with compelling and effective digital learning content. These platforms should help ensure students’ online safety, facilitate synchronous learning, and increase collaboration all while allowing teachers to maintain control of their virtual classrooms.

Luckily, there are tools to help educators address these considerations. For example, LanSchool, Lenovo’s classroom management solution, recently announced a partnership with Bark for Schools to enhance their existing safety offerings. Bark’s software uses advanced AI to monitor language sentiment, including slang, emojis, and images used on school accounts and alerts administrators to issues such as depression and cyberbullying, among other concerns.

Beyond ensuring online safety, technology can also increase student engagement and retention. Specifically, immersive learning programs such as those from Veative Labs encourage active, problem-based learning through virtual reality-based lesson plans that promote a deeper understanding of complex concepts. The Veative solution equips teachers with tools that promote differentiated, unique learning opportunities for students.

Virtual Collaboration

Although students do not have the opportunity to physically raise their hands in remote learning, innovative software offerings empower them to communicate and collaborate virtually. One great example of a K12 learning experience platform is Exploros, a teacher-guided, social instructional platform. With these types of tools in place, teachers can drive successful synchronous or asynchronous learning experiences ensuring educational continuity for their students.

One of the keys to success for educators is to create a continuity in instruction, leveraging tools for remote learning that are also valuable in a physical classroom setting too. The right technology allows teachers to share content with students that keeps them engaged without sacrificing valuable instruction time. Having the ability to push out content to virtual reality headsets or laptops in the classroom keeps the students on task and provides more opportunities for teachers to “guide on the side” instead of spending time managing devices. Many districts already had a device for each student, and many others have acquired devices due to COVID-19. These technology solutions will continue to be integrated into classroom learning. And, if forced to return to a distance learning model in the future, schools will already have the technology needed, students will be familiar with the learning tools, and digital lessons will be part of the teachers’ curriculum, making for a smoother transition to a remote learning setting.

While we may be preparing for kids to head back to school in the fall, remote and distance learning are part of the overall digital transformation that is happening in our education institutions worldwide. And ultimately, when combined with the right technology solutions, students and teachers will be well-equipped to succeed in any learning environment.

Rich Henderson is the Director of Global Education Solutions at Lenovo.

Featured Image: Chris Montgomery, Unsplash.