Teachers, students, and parents faced an uphill battle in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced most schools to transition to distance learning. Since many jurisdictions and school boards handled the transition differently, we saw various approaches, some of which worked better than others. More than 188 countries closed their schools, with more than 90% of that number adopting either digital or broadcast-based remote education policies.
Despite the confusion that erupted, one positive aspect of having so many different approaches is that it allowed us to study each one and learn from their successes and failures.
As we move into 2021, one thing is clear: distance learning has become normalized globally and will continue to be our reality until we bring the coronavirus pandemic under control.
What impacted distance learning in 2020?
Teachers and students alike made considerable adjustments in the spring of 2020, as most of us moved to online learning.
One of the most significant collective learning experiences was our use of technology. Ensuring that all students could safely and securely access technology did not come easily. The rapid roll-out created chaos in many school districts, especially those with high percentages of lower-income students.
Another major hurdle was the lack of formal training for teachers. The sudden switch to remote learning illustrated just how challenging it was for teachers to independently shift their teaching style to work on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or any other digital tools their district was using.
Moving forward with remote education in 2021
As we move forward into 2021, ensuring that teachers and students alike have our full support is extremely important. Here are a few positive changes that have already transformed our experience with distance learning in 2021.
Continued support and training for educators
One of the most significant needs that we identified in 2020 was dedicated teacher training. We can’t always equip educators with the skills necessary to deliver their lessons in a virtual environment.
To help them, and in turn, help their students thrive during remote education, we need to prioritize training sessions that help our educators learn how to deliver lessons and design and mark assignments entirely online.
The growth of mobile-ready solutions
In many households, a smartphone is the only available option for students doing distance learning. To help students and their families have more options, growing our mobile solutions needs to continue to be a priority for 2021. Accessing educational content across multiple devices, including mobile, is key to keeping distance learning as inclusive and equitable as possible.
More data-driven decision making
As we use electronic grading software and other digital tools, teachers and schools will build up ever-increasing stores of detailed and easily searchable data. Having additional data gives teachers the unique opportunity to make more data-driven decisions for their classrooms.
These actionable insights wouldn’t be possible with the primary classroom tools we were using before 2020. Hopefully, having more accessible data will give teachers the insights they need to adjust their teaching and grading style to each student, giving them precisely what they need to succeed.
Increased use of technology integrations like VR
As immersive technology like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) become more prevalent, they can create exciting and engaging educational experiences for students stuck at home.
Schools don’t even need to invest in expensive VR goggles. Google has a cardboard VR headset that costs as little as $8.95 each, or teachers can guide students in creating a DIY version using basic supplies like scissors, tape, and cardboard.
More significant implementation and use of electronic grading software
Since teaching methods have evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic, it only makes sense that grading methods should follow suit. When educators teach entirely online, distributing paper assignments, grading them by hand, and giving them back to students isn’t feasible.
That’s where digital grading software comes into play. Educators can use this technology to design assignments, distribute them, and grade them entirely online. Digital grading software like Crowdmark saw a massive surge in popularity in 2020, a trend that will only continue to grow as we move into 2021.
Explore the possibilities of digital grading software with Crowdmark
There are many challenges facing educators and students in 2021. By being creative and reimagining how we can use technology, both in-person and in remote classrooms, we can gradually work towards more equitable and supportive learning environments for all our students.