As schools and colleges across the U.S. continue to explore ways to safely bring students back to the classroom in the fall, many are looking into how they can leverage enhanced edtech solutions to assist both in-person and remote learning scenarios – in case of another potential COVID-19 wave.
With a widely-available vaccine not predicted for at least another 12 to 18 months, it is vital for educational system leaders to continue to turn to effective, advanced edtech platforms designed to empower their educators to continue propelling students toward success while addressing the challenges of social distancing, and even future quarantines.
Since mid-spring, educators like myself have been faced with implementing teaching strategies that involve a dramatic shift to remote learning due to the pandemic. Many educators started using free- form video platforms like Zoom and Skype, but unfortunately, those platforms can often be limited, as the instructor is unable to put guardrails in place so that students know exactly how and what to demonstrate when it’s their turn. This ultimately leaves educators unsure if students are grasping key concepts from their courses. By utilizing edtech solutions that are specifically designed for educators to both assess and provide personal interaction during a lesson, they are better equipped to enhance the educational relationship from a distance.
In my case, my classes were able to transition to the continuity of learning instruction more easily by incorporating edtech tools that the students were already familiar with and utilizing prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
For example, Google Classroom served as a great online file sharing platform to scaffold instruction by assigning classwork to introduce vocabulary and provide guided notes for textbook reading assignments. Additionally, Edpuzzle allowed me to supply my students with videos embedded with questions to check for understanding. As student understanding progressed and deeper analysis needed to be demonstrated, we leveraged the digital video learning and assessment platform Crossbraining. This tool gave my students the opportunity to showcase their learning process through 45-second videos, sometimes involving the recruitment of family members to make the lessons more interactive and fun. These resources, in conjunction with the use of Bloom’s taxonomy framework, strengthened their retention, and supported higher levels of understanding.
As an instructor at Wilson Talent Center, I teach therapeutic services courses. As these courses are geared toward students with an interest in future careers such as athletic training, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and cardiac rehabilitation, it goes without saying that these courses are pretty hands-on. The structure provided by the latest edtech tools was a major asset in being able to continue course instruction during the shelter-in-place mandates. Luckily, instead of the pivot to remote learning being extremely disruptive, the transition wasn’t as rough. I was able to keep my students on track and engaged over the last few challenging months of the semester.
Key benefits of leveraging advanced edtech include:
• Web-based and video collaboration tools allow my students to continue to develop hands-on skills within a controlled environment – all with instructor support.
• Video assessment tools promote a deeper understanding through demonstrating the skill.
• Overall, they enhance communication and engagement efforts between students and educators by bringing in the human element that’s often missing in distance learning.
This past spring became a forced emergency experiment in remote learning. For many, the anxiety and adjustment period associated with the pandemic created a gap in the course curriculum. However, the challenges also provided an opportunity to reflect upon my current instructional practices, seek new ways of presenting information, and gain feedback from my students to drive future utilization.
Incorporating edtech such as Google Classroom, Edpuzzle, and Crossbraining has allowed me the opportunity to enhance the delivery of information in my instruction, and better reach multiple learning styles, culminating in stronger student engagement.
The good news is that the innovation we’re seeing in edtech is skyrocketing, and by implementing contingency policies and leveraging advanced technology solutions, we can reduce this gap, improve the education system and support responses to future crises. This will be essential as educators approach the upcoming fall semester.