We’re in the Age of Digital Learning. Moving from traditional teachings to adopting remote learning. The world has transitioned to blended learning. 1.5 billion students and teachers have shifted to digital learning. And more than 90% of learners and educators were forced to adapt to these changes. Looking at our education community, most teachers were expected to adopt synchronous teaching methods. Teaching both online and in-person simultaneously. The teaching model has changed.

The Pandemic

The pandemic has created the largest disruption in the education system. However, this has accelerated trends that have been building for the past years. The crisis has urged innovation within the education sector. Having lessons being broadcast on television, preparing take-home packages, and online streaming. Distance learning solutions were quickly developed. Reminding us all of the essential roles of teachers. And change is possible.

Before vs. After the Pandemic

The massive efforts of educators and leaders remind us that change is possible. What was considered difficult or impossible to implement became the ‘new normal’. Shifts have been made from PreK-12 to Higher Education. These are the main shifts witnessed today:

1. Lifelong Learning

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the word ‘school’ was associated with PreK-12. The education environment focused mostly on children and teenagers. While Higher Education was geared towards young adults. Pre-COVID, only 30% of students were actually being taught online. While now, essentially 100% of students are practicing online learning. This paved for Lifelong Learning. Where studying online is not restricted to age, or course, or topic. But instead self-initiated and focuses on personal development. A type of learning that takes place outside of the educational institute. The motivation has shifted from school-based learning, to personal development. A trend that we see prevailing post-COVID.

2. Physical and Online Classrooms

Though some schools were operating with a blended learning environment, there’s been a massive increase in video content. Due to school closures, teachers had to adopt remote learning to ensure the continuity of learning. They started to record their classes, prepare online presentations and create instructional videos. The physical classroom has shifted online, becoming completely virtual. 

Online classrooms might not replace traditional teaching spaces, but can compliment learning as a whole. Teaching online can create more personalized learning opportunities. But it can also work against the teacher and the students. As evident by the several Zoom mishaps during online learning. Controlling, organizing, and teaching a class of 20 students over a screen is a challenge. 

‘Pre-COVID, only 30% of students were actually being taught online…’

3. Continuous Teaching Sessions

When you’re at school, you’re in a classroom. And when you’re at home, you’re doing your homework. But with video streaming and pre-recorded presentations, the classroom is not restricted within a time-frame. A student can access recorded material at any time. A teacher can prepare any resource allowing students to continue learning outside of school. Teaching sessions are no longer restricted by time spent in school, but instead are extended to anytime, anywhere, and at any pace.

4. Personalized Learning Opportunities

The main focus of teaching resources and material is accessibility. With teachers posting and uploading content online, this allows for a wider range of access. Students within the school, the community, or even the region can get their hands on teaching resources. It does not have to be confined to the class. With Lifelong Learning, a student can start creating their own ‘playlist’. A list of videos catered to their needs, depending on their interest and area of development. Some students prefer a visual approach. While others opt for audio only. This flexibility can help a student initiate, process, and learn in different ways. There’s no one-method-fits-all. With the endless teaching content, there is no limit to learning.

5. Anytime & Anywhere Learning

Digital connectivity has increased between teachers, students, and parents. This allowed for transparency, accountability, and constant communication. Remote learning transferred the teacher role to the parent. Allowing students to learn anytime and anywhere.

The Future of Education

As for the future of education, the most prevailing statement is “it will never be the same”. Predictions estimate that the accelerated trends will result in a long-term shift. Even though online learning will not replace physical classrooms, most of the learning will be in a blended environment. Online and remote teachers will become more prominent. Devices within the classroom will increase. Allowing for students to continue learning outside the classroom. Communication between the school and home has never been more important. Parental involvement is now crucial. And the role of the teacher relies heavily on both educators and parents. We see that this shift will impact K-12 education and soon become the new normal.

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