Digitisation in the education sector, along with many others, has been rapidly adopted and integrated over the last year. Largely in response to various lockdown measures, classrooms and teaching have been forced to move online. But what does this mean for education at large?
According to a recent Pearson study of 6,817 educators, 81% thought that digital skills had improved among staff as a result of delivering more online learning.
Although the catalyst (Covid) for this digital upskilling was utterly undesirable, its lasting effect could be a more digitally literate and presumably more efficient workforce; it would be natural to assume this would lead to a decreased workload on the teaching/admin staff of many educational establishments. Menial processes – such as email reminders – could now be handled by automated processes, workloads could be more efficiently managed through dedicated systems, and lesson planning/marking could be centralised among staff.
Despite these assumptions, 61% of educators said ‘an increased workload’ was one of the biggest challengers they faced when delivering online learning. Although this could largely be attributed to a ‘learning curve’, it seems the realities of online learning don’t always chime with the ideals; an average of only 25% of primary/secondary educated said their work-life balance had improved.
Keeping a class attentive and motivated has got to be one of the least enviable aspects of the teaching profession at the best of times. Throw in a global pandemic, variable internet speeds, the distractions of home, and you have yourself a really difficult task. In fact, 83% of educators agreed that keeping students motivated was the single biggest challenge with implementing remote/online teaching.
The reasons for this increased disengagement are myriad. Outside of the obvious distractions of home, a key aspect of the pandemic was the social isolation it instilled; 79% of educators cited a lack of interaction with peers as having an impact on their students’ learning.
Further than this, digital inequity plays a big role in students’ ability to engage with and stay motivated by their online lessons. More than half of educators noted that access to digital resources was of concern to their students, a statistic that increases to 74% in schools with the highest proportion of free school meals.
The assumption that everyone has the same access to newer digital systems neglects the millions of children who lack this access. Around 9% of families in the UK don’t have access to a computer (laptop/desktop/tablet), and an estimated 7% of children only have access to the internet through a mobile phone.
While full digitisation of the education sector comes with its drawbacks, it’s likely that we’ll see a hybrid model adopted by many as we collectively drag ourselves out of the lockdown quagmire.
Education Technology highlights the benefits of an analytically literate society in one of its latest blog posts. Some digital and analytical skills have already been nurtured in students by their recently digitised education system, but more could be done to establish these skills in education and make for a more analytically competent society.
Alongside the adoption of more technology will also be an increased scrutiny of its use and processing of data. Incredibly sensitive data surrounding children will be entrusted to these services, and consumers will need to become savvy to their requirements and privacy policies.
Continuing to offer the same level of quality education on the circumstances of the last year must have been challenging to say the least.
The tools that have helped educators cope with the change are likely to remain a part of their tech stack for the long-run, as many will have been fully integrated and assimilated into these establishments’ processes.
This, of course, is great news for any edtech companies – not only are these products (and the willingness to use them) here to stay, but this also offers entrepreneurial edtech companies a scale of market in which to compete.
More than four in five educators (83%) said that keeping students motivated was the biggest challenge with remote online teaching and learning