On the brink of a digital revolution?
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on the learning of pupils in the UK. From bodged exam results to hundreds of hours lost in the classroom, there are many things we should be rightly concerned about.
But we shouldn’t overlook some of the unexpected positives too. One of which is the fact that both students and teachers alike have just had to undertake a five-month intensive course in e-Learning that could revolutionise the classroom as schools return.
Why was this needed? – Before the pandemic, employers were keen to expose the UK’s growing digital skills gap. A 2019 survey by the Interactive Advertising Bureau found that 88% of tech employers were unable to find graduates with the up-to-date digital skills they required. And it’s not hard to see why when we look at the Pre-Covid educational landscape. Whilst some schools might have embraced eLearning initiatives, for many students using digital skills will have been an alien concept outside of IT or computer science lessons.
What has the pandemic taught us? – For many teachers, the pandemic will have made them face their technological fear. Online teaching, virtual assessments and interactive educational games have all played vital roles in keeping UK students engaged with learning over the past five months. And most teachers will have been positively surprised by the results.
The pandemic has highlighted how creating online learning modules is not as difficult or time-consuming as we may have previously thought. It’s also shown how students are more enthused by technology than regular practices and this can lead to better results. There are also the practical benefits of students being able to easily access work they’ve missed whilst ill and teachers being able to view real-time results of tests so that they can offer help when it’s most needed.
What will this mean for classrooms in September? – Both students and teachers should take advantage of this progress. Time should be given to consider how eLearning could be incorporated into face-to-face lessons to maximise the potential of these improved digital skills. Could a virtual assessment be incorporated into a module? Or perhaps certain pieces of work could be presented as a blog?
It’s clear that classrooms will need to make sure that they are equipped to provide more digital opportunities in the classroom. With Scotland being the first to pledge thousands of laptops to students, we could well see laptop desks replacing traditional school desks in the majority classroom to ensure a more streamlined learning experience.
One thing’s for sure though, traditional chalk and talk methods are a thing of the past and schools should be looking to embrace this digital revolution.