(Written by By Glenn Low | e27) The education industry has been through many changes and has experienced exponential growth in recent years due to the global pandemic. Despite the advancement in technology, many educators are not leveraging it due to a lack of technical knowledge and skepticism as they continue with their manual and tedious work processes.
Even though educators have long been adopting technology in their teaching – from the traditional education of using chalk/blackboard, marker/whiteboard, transparency/overhead project to PowerPoint and online videos/illustrations – many of them cannot fully comprehend nor maximize the usage of those tech features.
With the maturity of technology, it is essential to focus beyond the hardware and software components and the digital aspects as the industry evolves into the digital world. These led to the emergence and assimilation of artificial intelligence in work processes to improve educators' efficiency and effectiveness while maintaining academic integrity.
Going beyond the ability to deliver lessons virtually and remotely, it is equally important to resolve other problems educators face and replicate the social aspect found in a traditional classroom.
Need for Efficient Teaching
According to the McKinsey Global Teacher and Student Survey, educators work longer hours, at about 50 hours a week. Still, they are spending less than half of the time in direct interaction with students. The increased burden of lesson preparation work includes mundane admin chores like the ongoing collation of teaching materials and the creation of worksheets, in addition to class management tasks.
These time-consuming yet essential works take away precious time which can be better allocated for teaching and assessing students' performance to identify learning gaps.
Imagine these tedious processes can all be stored in a cloud. All the years of hard work in content creation are digitized, stored, and organized in your library, easily accessible everywhere with just a click of a button. Such automation of administrative workload improves efficiency and reduces the hours that educators have to work beyond standard hours. The time saved contributes to a more balanced work-life and adds to the positivity of educators' well-being and mindset, which impacts the way they deliver lessons.
Need for Effective Teaching
Every child is unique, and every child's learning progress is different. The time for a"one-size-fits-all" lesson plan is long gone. With globalization, students' needs become more complex, and stakeholders' expectations rise along with it. As such, there is also increased pressure on educators to deliver the results.
To optimize learning outcomes based on the limited teaching time, the teaching curriculum has to be well-thought-out and executed. The need for educators to assess and determine their students' understanding and mastery of topics to pinpoint areas for improvement becomes extremely important.
Traditionally, assignments are marked manually and returned to students for their revision. There is no easy way of obtaining class-level statistics on each question attempted or identifying areas for improvement for each student. This led to the increasing significance of learning analytics benefiting both the educators and the students. With technology embedded into teaching, educators can quickly access students' performance progress reports and identify learning gaps.
Vital information showing the students' strengths and weaknesses and summarizing from the school level, class level to individual student level is made possible. Such analysis acts as the first line of defense, sending educators to make a prompt revision to their teaching plans. It also equips them with in-depth knowledge of students' learning progress to curate personalized lessons, facilitating more effective learning to boost academic outcomes.
Such personalized education enhances students' learning experience and allows them to reach their full potential.
Schools that can provide diagnostic assessment benefit not only educators and students but also the parents. Parents who entrusted their children to the school will now have more transparency and, thus, have more confidence in the school.
Just like lesson plans, it is also not a"one-size-fits-all." Different schools and different subjects will have other focused areas. For instance, a system that caters to Math would emphasize calculations and working steps. Thus, it would not be suitable for use in English, especially for composition writing. The data points for analysis are very different; features like Rubric assessment are essential for composition writing but not Math or Science. Therefore, a genuinely effective teaching platform also stems from having customizable features and tailor-made to fit the needs of educators and their teaching plans.
Need for 2-way Communications
Besides academic assessment, communications are of utmost importance in fostering the relationship between educators and students in non-physical classroom settings. Online learning is no longer just conducting lessons virtually but as much as possible to recreate the experience of in-person learning with active communications from educators and students. Disseminating and retrieval of information are also done most effectively via constant communications.
Active interaction encourages students to participate in the discussion, enables the better articulation of lessons taught, provides assurance and consultation support in the absence of physical class, fosters relationships, and builds life-long social skills.
To overcome the problem, there has been an increasing interest in interactive whiteboards to facilitate collaborative learning. Therefore, a total tech solution also needs to consider enabling educators to provide real-time valuable and detailed feedback beyond text format. Timely communications and engagement are vital factors to students' success and enhance the e-learning environment.
The Emergence of Digital Learning
Education is an essential part of children's life where they learn and socialize, playing an essential role in their growth and development. Therefore, technology is now seen as an enabler to sustainable education.
It brings everyone out of their comfort zone to explore and adapt technologies to keep life as normal as possible. Economically, harnessing technology has also become a business survival tool. The demand and expectations that came along with COVID-19 have brought the education industry into a new era. With uncertainties still looming, we will continue to experience disruption to schools and learning centers, resulting from the implementation of restrictive measures or abrupt closures.
There is an urgency for schools and learning centers alike to relieve the tension educators face before they burn out. Some measures are being explored to reduce the workload to allow educators more time. Short-term measures such as re-prioritizing school programs and offering sabbatical leaves are being considered to provide educators with more flexibility and time away from work to rest and"reset" themselves. However, technology will be explored for the long term to scale up teaching resources.
Therefore, acceptance and adoption of new smart technologies are inevitable, as they vastly improve ones' efficiency and effectiveness. Like the saying from George Couros,"Technology will not replace great teachers, but technology in the hands of great teachers can be transformational."
Technology will be deeply embedded in the teaching journey, acting like a facilitator that complements educators in making purposeful interventions and bringing learning to life for students, accentuating the experience of total education.