An education strategist provides a whirlwind chronicling of how we got to now.
GUEST COLUMN | by Shirley Deutsch
It’s no doubt that today’s students are facing unique challenges in and outside of the classroom in their education. But what about the teachers? Any teacher that has been in the career for at least 20 years did not have a computer while getting their masters. They don’t have the “magic touch” with smart devices nor the intuitive troubleshooting skills that Gen Zers know like they know how to tie their shoes.
‘Any teacher that has been in the career for at least 20 years did not have a computer while getting their masters.’
The fact that the most experienced teachers are now at a disadvantage is a new dynamic in education—they’re the ones doing the technological catch-up and, frankly, they’ve done a damn good job, even surprising themselves.
The War on Devices
For years teachers and school administrators were pushing to keep computers, smartphones, and any connected devices out of the classroom. From the rise of beepers and pagers to the earliest cell phones and iPods, followed by a few iterations of the blackberry, and more than a few iterations of the iPhone.
Much of the opposition was based on fear of distracting the students, as devices offer many features that can hinder the learning process.
Opposition was also based on research, with reports indicating that computers take away the critical thinking and other skills educators are looking to foster. Even as recently as 2019, there were serious questions about the impact of technology in the classroom, with a study of a million high schools students from 36 OECD countries finding that those who used computers heavily at school do a lot worse in most learning outcomes, even after accounting for social background and student demographics.
The Turning Point
With daunting statistics supporting the harm of technology in the classroom, teachers faced a tipping point at the onset of COVID-19. After years of trying to keep electronics out of the classroom, they are now faced with an indefinite amount of time in which they need computers in order to communicate with their students. With remote learning as the latest frontier it was time for teachers and students—but mostly teachers—to rise to the occasion (the students had been waiting at the gate, tablets in hand.)
Man vs. Machine
For any teacher that was certified before the year 2000, they learned how to build curricula on paper—creating materials, photocopying materials, distributing materials, and then collecting those completed materials, grading them, and so on.
For the most experienced teachers, learning management systems had to be tackled overnight. As did any preconceptions about what the future would look like. Teachers would be mapping out the future of education, collaborating, as well as their students, to decide how they can embrace what they once thought to be their biggest obstacle.
And they did this with grace, adapting to the needs of their students—which, we can see clearly now, has always been the goal of our educators.
Man + Machine
In the 2020-21 school year 61% of educators added an online component to the classroom for the first time. 94% of these first-timers have committed to continuing with the hybrid learning model into the future. 54% of respondents have committed to adding more technology in the 2022-23 school year.
From a practical sense, this hybrid model allows teachers to reach more students- whether because they are immunosuppressed, have family members who are, or any other various reasons why students may not be present in the physical classroom. 95% of schools will have at least some students that will be attending school exclusively online this upcoming school year.
But beyond practicality, this school year demonstrated a clear positive impact on the education industry’s ability to embrace change and adapt.
- 97% of educators agree that video tools are essential to the student experience at their institution.
- And going against archaic fears of technological distraction, 77% of educators agree that students at their institution are engaged with video more than any other content type (i.e. text, static images, audio)
Video supports better outcomes for students. 75% of staff say that video engages their students more than text-based content. 94% agree that video increases student satisfaction, and the same percentage attribute an improvement in student performance to the use of video.
Teachers’ attitudes have changed with the enormous successes they’ve seen in hybrid learning. Instead of turning away from technology, it’s clear that leaning in is the way to go- taking tools and platforms that students are familiar with and, more importantly, enjoy, has actually allowed more students to find success in technology, not distractions.
Two years into the pandemic, we are truly able to see how far education has come and can quantify the results, both pros, and cons. While there is still more work to be done, the benefits beyond the improvements in educational efficacy should be noted as well:
- Levels the playing field
- The resources that can be shared online are far greater than the resources that can be shared across districts and state lines. We are moving towards a standardized way of learning that ensures that children from New York to Minnesota to Hawaii have access to essential learning tools and materials.
- New and creative ways to ensure the emotional and psychological well-being of students (APA 2021), not just the academic.
Shirley Deutsch is Head of Solution Strategy and Enablement at Kaltura, a leading video cloud company. Connect with Shirley on LinkedIn.