Virtual learning over the past year and a half has created many new challenges for teachers who in many cases have had to learn to teach from a distance without much time or training. This is especially true when it comes to how teachers engage with their students. Teachers have attempted to quickly change their curricula and teaching styles to better serve their students. But in retrospect, it may not have been the teacher or student who was the problem – the problem may lie in the technology provided to them as the pandemic escalated.
The great educational migration of 2020 and 2021
In 2020, when schools switched to virtual learning, the use of platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams left teachers struggling to adapt. For example, elementary school teachers use their classroom as an attractive learning environment for young children. Classrooms with interactive and sensory learning elements and bright, welcoming atmospheres have now been moved to distracting and stressful home environments, where students were forced to use technology specifically designed for business and not for education.
Additionally, since video communication platforms were not designed for educators, many teachers had to modify their curriculum in an attempt to complement the technology provided to them. This problem cost our educators an enormous amount of time as the one-year lesson plans had to be changed at any time.
Virtual classrooms and the “new normal”
Educators felt extremely defeated by the level of student engagement when virtual classes were launched during the pandemic. In fact, a New York Times survey in November 2020, 55% of senior teachers said they were considering leaving the profession due to the current education landscape and feelings of being inadequate. Virtual learning combined with an unusual home schooling circumstance left students more distracted and stressed than ever before. Zoom fatigue has left many parents begging for a better solution.
As COVID-19 becomes less of a threat around the world, our schools have already started planning for a blended learning ânew normalâ – a mix of in-person and virtual learning. So how can we learn from what went wrong in virtual learning during the pandemic to better equip our students and teachers for distance learning in the future?
Enter EdTech Designed for Students and Teachers
Tools and technologies designed to meet the needs of teachers and students are much more successful in delivering quality online or hybrid education models. Here’s what educators should be looking for to make their lives easier and improve the educational experience for every student:
Time saving technology. Virtual classroom technology opens up a world of possibilities for teachers. With the primary and secondary interfaces, teachers have the opportunity to create an engaging learning environment for young learners who need a more experiential classroom situation, as well as advanced technology offerings for older students.
Monitoring distractions. Along with the feeling of a real classroom, one of the most useful tools in dealing with distracted students is the ability to monitor student engagement levels. Distraction monitoring tools alert a teacher when students may have other tabs open on their computers. The teacher then has the opportunity to note it and re-engage each student as needed.
Interactivity capabilities. Other tools that virtual classroom platforms uniquely offer are interactive meeting rooms, shareable lesson templates, personal lecture notes, and multi-user screen sharing. While many teachers will adopt a blended learning environment next year, these tools will be able to provide students at home with a rewarding and engaging learning experience.
Teachers have had to adapt quickly to fully online learning environments, and many have turned to video conferencing services designed with employees in mind, not teachers. Instead of business-oriented technology platforms in the classroom, teachers need technology designed specifically for them. Educational technology specifically designed for educators can include features such as distraction monitoring tools, interactive whiteboards and work rooms, all controlled by the teacher to help students stay engaged and on track. focused on their schoolwork and ultimately prepared for the next year of learning, regardless of the environment.
Svetlana Savova is the Director of Partnerships and Sales for VEDAMO, a virtual education platform designed for educators, by educators. Svetlana is a former teacher and is based in Bulgaria.