Due to Covid-19, some teachers, parents and students would say the education system is not at its highest point right now, or throughout the last year. The changes brought by the pandemic have led some individuals to believe we may never return to the educational system’s prior state.
Many challenges, like “Zoom fatigue,” and “learning loss” have arisen since schools started distance learning. However, learning has not stopped this past year, and there are lessons we can take into the future as we transition back into in-person learning.
What Have We Learned from Distance Learning?
Instructors have had to become more innovative and flexible to teach material in a non-traditional setting. Since the original curriculums were written for in-person learning, educators needed to change how they deliver instructions to keep students engaged. This necessary adjustment has allowed for a more fluid discussion on the issues that students and educators have had within the classroom. Removing the rigidity of traditional curriculums helps evolve the way we engage with students and material- and this lack of engagement is the crux of “learning loss.”
Student engagement was an issue long before the pandemic, but this issue has been exasperated by a sudden, drastic change in environment. Teachers have found that in switching to distance learning, they have had to adjust the material that students are learning.
The switch to remote learning has revealed a digital gap that mitigates engagement levels. A lack of access to reliable internet or devices has made some students suffer, due to being unable to complete assignments or view lessons. An average of 15% of US households have this problem, and a lack of access provides another barrier to student engagement.
This sparks the conversation and issue of altering classroom conditions to maximize student engagement. Understanding and addressing teachers’ processes and challenges to student access will help shape growth mindsets for years to come.
Student engagement is broken down into three dimensions: “minds-on”, “hearts-on” and “hands-on”. These elements gauge how intense the thinking is, how much investment students have in the topics and how much interaction they give to it. Educators believe accessible resources that touch on these principles will help re-engage learning coming out of the pandemic.
What Will Distance Learning Look Like in The Future?
While most educators do see in-person learning returning, distance learning will not be going away entirely. Schools want to build out seamless programs to create more flexibility for students who have found it helpful to use remote resources.
One of the long-term benefits of offering hybrid learning to students is that it helps build teleworking skills. During the pandemic, we saw a lot of jobs transition to fully remote. Familiarity with programs such as Zoom, Skype and online learning platforms can serve as a model for what the future workforce might review. Things are unlikely to stay remote indefinitely, but the option is now open for many to do this on a part-time basis. The same goes for learning. Schools systems would like to see education online be an option for flexibility, not just for those who want hybrid learning, but also in case of school closures.
When Will We See A Change?
The United States has been in “pandemic mode” for a full year now. Many parents wonder when a better mode of instruction will come or when schools and teachers will have a newly written, polished curriculum for their kids.
Unfortunately, these things take a lot of time. We understand that this is a learning curve for everyone involved- students, parents and teachers. We can support educators and administrators in their efforts to create something better and more enriching for our students by funding and practicing the growth mindset at home.
My First Lab collaborates with educators across the country to build kits that supplement the curriculums in place, and our products can help support STEM learning outside of the classroom. Through science, we believe we can contribute to a better future for today’s youth. View our full line of products here.
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