As the world flits in and out of lockdowns we are seeing well-documented structural changes caused by the pandemic. Some people are very positive regarding what can be achieved by working remotely; many leading companies have embraced the shift to working from home with some employees believing they are better because of it.
Schools and colleges are no exception and have increasingly embraced EdTech with many seeing it as critical in preparing their students for what may be a vastly different future.
Opportunity for Innovation
Jason Osborne, Chief Innovation Officer of Ector Country School District in Texas, is well known for his efforts to increase scientific literacy among students. Remote learning lead his office to develop courses that allow students to make a contribution to real-world research outside of the traditional classroom environment.
Osborne has said: “We create opportunities for remote access for students to view live scientific data provided by our university partners. We are also designing hands-on labs for distance learning that include personal data acquisition and instrumentation for students to design experiments.”
Desiree Alexander, founder and CEO of Educator Alexandar Consulting explains that “I realised that you have to know what you want to do before what you’re going to do it,” He says understanding this permits more intentional and meaningful ability to interact with a certain tool or platform.
In a similar vein, many educators have taken a new likening to presentation tools such as Zoom and Google Meet, using them to create an increasingly engaging environment setting to learn. Bringing these technologies into the classroom has allowed for greater interaction between students and teachers as well as allowing students to revisit snippets of sessions they want to revise.
Accessibility and Inclusion
Christoper Bugaj, an assistive technology specialist at London Public Schools in Virginia states that “educators are now using technologies that were originally used by students with disabilities for all students, such as screen sharing, on-demand video, touch screens, text-to-speech, speech-to-text, word prediction and many more.”
He adds that learning through the pandemic has shown that the classroom is just one of the places where learning can occur. As such, they should be inviting students to take advantage of being able to use what works best for them and make their place of learning what they want it to be.
Privacy brought into the spotlight
The pandemic has catalysed the introduction of many untested technology into schools and has brought the question of cyber security into the limelight.
Amelia Vance, director of education privacy at the Future of Privacy Forum, says it’s even more important to use vetted technologies in the classroom.
“Products that are not designed for educational settings could collect and commercialize students’ information,” she says. “It can also inappropriately blur the lines between students’ personal and academic lives when students are asked to use personal accounts for online learning.” The latter likely being a point many professionals who have brought their home environment into their video calls can sympathise with.
If your business has been a part of the shift to online learning, now is a great time to raise capital for expansion or indeed to sell a slice of your business. Polestar is working with leading K-12 EdTech companies and private equity investors across the world. If you would like to understand the current landscape we would of course be keen to share our learnings.
It can also inappropriately blur the lines between students’ personal and academic lives when students are asked to use personal accounts for online learning.