How the Pandemic Brought Permanent Changes to Education
The disruptive effects of the pandemic have been well-publicized. Unfortunately, disruption took place across every setting, not just in supply chains and consumer buying habits. In fact, Covid has had a widespread effect in terms of bringing significant changes to education.
Many experts believe these changes to education are here to stay. However, these changes don’t spell doom and gloom for K-12 schools, trade schools, and higher education institutions.
Quite the contrary. Education hasn’t undergone sudden, evolutionary growth for several decades. Changes in education might, in fact, be a bit overdue. Yes, some aspects of education have improved due to new technologies. And yet, the basic model of learning hasn’t seen seismic movement — until now.
After more than a year of teachers, administrators, and students scrambling to exchange knowledge innovatively — and remotely — a different education path forward has emerged. Listed below are a few of the most important upheavals helping to reinvent both private and public school systems.
Grades are becoming less important than practical assessments.
The GPA hasn’t completely gone the way of the dinosaur. Nonetheless, many people still see GPA as an accurate measurement of learning. But, as noted in research conducted by Instructure, the manufacturer behind Canvas, fewer than a third of educators felt tests reflected knowledge gains. Instead, 76% of them preferred to use formative assessments to gauge progress.
This move away from seeing pupils as “A-students” or “failures” receives excellent marks from many researchers. When handled correctly, formative assessments can remove the “high-stakes” grading that causes so much anxiety among many students. Formative assessments can also be used in tandem with more traditional testing vehicles when appropriate.
College courses are aligning with career trends.
For a long time, many have argued that colleges and universities need to future-proof their curricula by offering more relevant courses, certifications, and degrees. Finally, Post-pandemic, this is starting to happen more frequently on campuses around the country.
Case in point? Interactive gaming.
According to Randy Pitchford, the president of Gearbox Entertainment, the interactive entertainment industry is finally being taken seriously as a career path. When Pitchford started making interactive video games years ago, he admits that he had to learn on his own. At the time, the higher education field didn’t see the video gaming industry as relevant.
Today, Pitchford’s happy to see that everything’s changed for up-and-coming talented programmers and creatives. As he explained to college students interested in entertainment occupations, “Now, there are entire university programs dedicated to this craft, which means the next crop of entertainers will be more equipped than ever to develop and design amazing games.”
Hybrid learning is enjoying its moment.
Though Zoom fatigue became a real issue during the pandemic, not all students saw online learning as a negative. For many, being able to attend classes online kept them safe while giving access to essential information. Additionally, online learners had a greater choice of schools regarding where they wanted to learn. This was especially true for post-secondary coursework, degrees, and certifications.
Even as many K-12 and higher education schools have returned to in-person learning, they’ve remained open to online learning and embraced a hybrid approach.
For example, many teachers now record classes so absent students can watch them later. Some offer live-streaming capabilities to students who can’t be in the classroom. Keep in mind that many schools upgraded their technologies during Covid to include web cameras in learning spaces. Consequently, they’re eager to continue using those technologies and get the highest return from those investments.
Colleges and universities are moving toward making test-optional applications the norm.
For decades, students had to take standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT to apply to colleges. Then SAT and ACT canceled testing as the pandemic swept the country. No testing meant that countless high school seniors were left without a critical evaluation piece. In response, higher education institutions — including some in the Ivy League — went test-optional.
The decision to look at college applicants through a different lens was a natural reaction to a problem. As it turns out, it drove popularity and press for colleges. As a result, many institutions have made themselves test-optional for the foreseeable future.
Parents are more engaged than before in their children’s education.
When kids began learning from desktops, laptops, and tablets, their parents were often by their sides. Undoubtedly, working moms and dads struggled with trying to be there for their kids during the school day. Nevertheless, they ended up becoming stronger partners in their children’s learning and development.
Research conducted by EdWeek reveals that nearly 80% of teachers felt that their communication with parents during the pandemic increased. Better communication is yet another positive outcome for education, which has long been fraught with disconnects between educators and parents. With parents taking more of a “we’re in this together” approach to their kids’ education, schools and their staff feel more supported. Additionally, it may be easier for teachers to have tough discussions about poorly performing students with understanding mothers and fathers.
Administrations are upskilling teachers in technology.
Quite a few teachers were caught off-guard when they had to move their classwork online. For one, they had to master Zoom regardless of whether they were comfortable with tech. Similarly, they owed it to their students to make better use of cloud-based and networked learning management systems. As a result, many set out on their own to acquire know-how in the ed-tech space.
It’s essential to ensure that educators aren’t caught flat-footed and without these vital skill sets again.
Hopefully, a full-scale pandemic will never take everyone by surprise again. However, something else could cause equally significant disruptions in the educational process. Disruption is one reason why schools are putting their focus into training their teams on the latest advancements. Accordingly, teachers will be better able to flex their tech muscles fast, just in case.
Covid caused several learning stumbles. At the same time, the pandemic provided the education system with a much-needed wake-up call. After all, the children, teens, and young people in school right now will be in the workforce before long. They deserve a relevant education to launch fulfilling careers. Overall, it’s a good thing that changes in education are taking place to meet their needs precisely at the right time.
Image Credit: pexels; thank you!
How the Pandemic Brought Permanent Changes to Education was originally published on ReadWrite on October 12, 2021 by Deanna Ritchie.