The pandemic has dramatically changed the face of education, jolting K-12 instruction from 100% in-person to a spread, deviating anywhere from entirely remote to somewhere in between the two. It’s no wonder teachers and students alike are experiencing tech fatigue. Despite incredible efforts from teachers, parents and school leaders, the abrupt 180-degree shift from the standard five weekdays of in-person instruction to the ever-evolving “new normal” puts a spotlight on lack of readiness for education’s digital transformation. What’s more, the fallout from lack of preparedness, lack of infrastructure, minimal tech training for educators and growing disparities among learning opportunities for disadvantaged populations have widened achievement gaps and threatened this generation’s future at large.
Having spent many years in the education-technology industry, watching my own children take on the remote learning regime without a playbook was an insightful experience for me. Our stumbles and triumphs inspired me to share my own key learnings, in hopes that some practical suggestions can help families better prepare for the future of education.
Your student is falling behind. Now what?
At the close of the 2020-21 school year, students enrolled in first- through sixth-grade were five and four months behind in math and reading respectively, according to McKinsey’s recent report. While districts await the crucial government funds infusion addressing the pandemic’s impact on education, parents need not wait to take advantage of existing solutions on the market.
Online tutoring platforms offer direct access to incredibly talented teachers in just a few clicks. A survey conducted by the Christensen Institute in October showed 65 percent of educators surveyed are currently offering tutoring services, which means parents can book face-to-face lessons with trained and certified educators to help get students back on track or accelerate students’ interests — at a time that is convenient for their schedule.
Isolation and anxiety have taken a toll, but addressing lost learning and mental health Is possible
Beyond pure academics, McKinsey reports that around 80 percent of parents (myself included) worry about their child’s mental, social and emotional health. Watching my daughters log onto Zoom classes day after day left me wondering, “how are young children expected to retain and stay engaged with passive lecture-style instruction?” I noticed some teachers go above and beyond with the limited tools they were given. One superstar instructor hosted periodic dance breaks to help combat screen fatigue. The ingenuity demonstrated by educators reinvigorated my deep appreciation for everything they do.
However, the majority of classroom instruction is spent in one too many scenarios where students don’t get the benefit of a one-on-one connection. Giving your child the opportunity to build a relationship with their teacher or tutor helps lessen the stress of anxiety and prolonged isolation, while improving their learning outcome.
Technology’s exciting days ahead
Although video conferencing solutions such as Zoom and Skype have recently gained popularity in connecting teachers and students, most tools and platforms used in the digital classroom were not built for education purposes. Imagine the possibilities if teachers and students had better, more purpose-built tools at their disposal, designed to unlock student successes. Early innovations have brought real-time collaboration tools into the education realm, including digital whiteboards with all the bells and whistles needed to make learning a fun, interactive experience kids want to engage with – and the future ahead is extremely promising.
With advancements in actionable data, easy connectivity and seamless collaboration coming together in education, we will be able to dramatically impact students from all walks of life. While families across the world grapple with the new identity of daily life, it remains imperative we keep driving advancements in education and technology for the benefit of current and future generations of students.
Henry Hsiao is the chief executive officer of Teachers1on1, a performance-learning platform that offers a diagnostic approach to accelerate student learning, with high dosage one-on-one tutoring in a dynamic virtual classroom environment, led by rigorously qualified teachers.