The Education Industry Is Still Coping With Changes From COVID-19
The Covid-19 pandemic sent teachers and students scrambling for ways to keep students on track to achieve their educational goals. Students at all levels faced a quick transition to online learning as teachers adjusted their lessons into online compatible formats. Even after eight months, students and teachers are finding out what does and doesn’t work in this new educational landscape.
Safety Is Still a Chief Concern for Educators
Education is a priority for most nations and communities, and they will do whatever it takes to keep students in school, even if school means sitting alone in front of a computer instead of in a room full of peers. Schools have attempted to return to in-person learning with varying degrees of success. Many schools have reopened only to send students back home at the end of the week.
Part of the reason community leaders are rushing the return to in-person learning is the troubles that students and teachers still face with online learning. In-person learning has been the gold standard for centuries, making it a hard habit to break.
Teachers Are Still Adapting to Online Teaching
Most teachers did not take a class about online instruction during their formal education to become a teacher. While the principles of teaching should remain the same for online and in-person classes, in practice, the two are very different. The best methods for teaching classes in-person don’t directly transfer to teaching online. This adjustment period is a frustration point for both teachers and students.
Teachers are still finding better ways to deliver quality lessons through online-only material. There are added logistics to group projects, discussions, and homework assignments that teachers didn’t have to struggle with when they taught in person. Students are losing valuable instruction and time collaborating with peers as teachers figure out best practices.
Current Web Conferencing Software Isn’t Ideal for Classrooms
Teachers use their computers for a great many things during the course of a class—taking attendance, projecting slide shows, showing videos, and annotating notes. With all of this multitasking, teachers don’t have the capacity to manage complex web conferencing software. Each of the available platforms—Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, among others—have different features that are beneficial and others that are detrimental to the structure of a classroom.
The mute button, for example, can present difficult situations depending on if a teacher has sole control of the powerful button. Students under the age of ten often don’t have the tech skills to troubleshoot problems if the settings aren’t properly set up before logging in. Technological issues aren’t limited to elementary students as older students in online master’s degrees programs struggle to navigate new technologies.
Zoom is creating a new tool exclusively for educators. The new Zoom feature integrates tools that teachers are already using to manage their classrooms. The additions to web conferencing software make online learning a smoother process for both students and teachers. As technology becomes more central to education, feedback from teachers and students needs to be an integral part of the development process to make sure the programs offer tools students and teachers want.
Zoom Fatigue Is a Real Concern
Online learning wouldn’t be anywhere near successful without the wide availability of web conferencing. Even though Zoom is a great tool, it can be a major drain for students pursuing their bachelor’s degree with a full course load of lecture-based classes. Listening to professors drone on isn’t the best learning method. Students who engage teachers and immediately apply their learning have a better chance of internalizing the information they learn in class. Zoom can’t replicate the hands-on, engaging learning activities of a regular classroom.
Schools Are Becoming Flexible About Requirements
The pandemic affected more than the education industry. Educational pursuits transitioned from primary to secondary goals as students were getting sick, needed to find work, or taking care of loved ones. Even those who didn’t get sick and kept their jobs were faced with a plethora of hardships that weren’t present before the pandemic. Covid-19’s impact on the education industry will be felt for some time.
These massive changes reduced the mental capacity students have left for learning. Students in community college pursuing their associate’s degrees were the most negatively impacted by the crisis as they are more likely to balance outside work with classes. These students need their jobs to pay for school and cover their expenses. Schools are dropping certain requirements that can’t occur due to Covid-19 restrictions to keep students on track for graduation.