Thankfully it appears as though we are at the tail end of the COVID-19 pandemic here in the United States, with schools and universities planning to resume at least a hybrid classroom model come Fall of 2021. That being said, a complete continuation of "business as usual" when it comes to teaching and learning would put school systems in peril.
Three essential changes in remote learning should be kept in the education curriculum as we return to in-person school: attentiveness, anonymity, and technological optimization. Adopting methods to engage students in their learning without creating anxiety or exclusion in the classroom can be achieved using appropriate technology.
Learning from Remote Learning
To dispel all that we’ve learned about our students and the plaguing problems of modern education would be a grave mistake. There is an apparent disconnect between modern education and the current student. The current student is technology savvy, has a shorter attention span, and prefers texting over speaking aloud. Modern education utilizes antiquated technology, emphasizes long, droning teaching lessons, and forces students to speak up if they want answers to all the questions they tend to keep in their heads.
As important as it is for students to pay attention for hours and speak up when they have a question, how optimal is our education system if we use teaching methods that were instilled decades ago versus adopting new practices around the new student archetype? Technology played a significant role in remote learning, and it should continue to play an essential role as we advance: it is the medium in which today’s students learn and speak.
Attention Spans: The Remote Truth Unveiled
To some extent, remote learning revealed the lack of attention that occurs in the class itself. While in class, it’s easy to get away with not paying attention and daydreaming but still physically present. However, take away physical presence, and you are left with the issues you see with zoom classrooms: students not participating, students not on video, and some students not even showing up whatsoever because they can just get notes from a friend later. School systems mustn’t throw the entire lack of participation by students under the blanket of online learning. What it unveils is how lackluster the traditional classroom setting truly is.
The Value of Anonymity
“Class, does anyone have any questions?”
How many times is this question followed by crickets chirping? Students hate asking questions in front of all of their peers. Whether it be shyness, fear of embarrassment, or knowing that they can go and Google their question later, students in a class rarely actively participate. When they do, it is either because they are forced to or because they are the question champion of the class.
The beauty of online classrooms was that students could easily ask questions ‘anonymously’ by directly messaging the teacher or in their smaller breakout rooms with only 3-4 other students. This similar mechanism must be replicated when going back to in-person learning, whether through more small group work/ discussions or a question box of sorts that is passed around and then read aloud to the class.
Optimizing with Technology
We must, educators and entrepreneurs alike, work together to meet students where they are. We, unfortunately, cannot force them to change the habits society has ingrained in them from day 1, but we can, and we should use these habits as a compass to guide how we teach and educate the next generation.
PhotoStudy has a unique, innovative approach that works with today’s students rather than against them. It is mobile-friendly, text message-oriented, and gives students instant access to a tutor at any time of day. No more embarrassing moments in class or worries about asking a ‘dumb’ question, and no more tutoring sessions that drone on and lose the student’s attention. Like how students communicate with their friends, they can text with a tutor and then carry on with their day uninterrupted. Regardless of remote learning or in-person learning, new technology must be adopted for students to optimize their learning.