Few sectors have undergone fundamental changes like education over the past year and a half. Digital technologies that were in the periphery are now being widely used by educational institutions across the world. Virtual classrooms, online exams, contact tracing apps, and digital signages are only some of the technological innovations that are redefining the education sector now.
Technology was always important for education. But the pace of adoption was slow in the education sector when compared to others. The pandemic changed all that. Now schools, colleges, and other educational institutions know that digital technology is key to their operations.
A cursory look at digitalization over the recent past will tell you that necessity is the mother of adoption. Industries and sectors have had to significantly increase their technology investments to deal with the changing reality. Digital technology has become vital for the education sector for the following reasons:
Social distancing norms: Everyone’s afraid of exposure to the virus. And people are more fearful of their children getting infected. Naturally, both parents and school administrators want to avoid any chance of mass infection in schools. This has compelled the sector to invest in digital technology for socially distanced learning.
Regulatory needs: When the pandemic entered our lives, schools too were shut down. Since then, The federal government, state governments, and local bodies have been cautious about reopening them at full capacity and have instituted strict protocols. This has necessitated the need for digital modes of learning.
Ease of scale: One of the biggest advantages of digital technology is that it’s exceptionally easy to scale. Schools have realized that most of the infrastructure necessary for digitalization already exists in their ecosystem. Their students would have access to computers or smartphones with internet connections. All the schools had to do was find the right platform that was mutually beneficial.
Competition: The pandemic led to a boom in online education among professionals. Hundreds of thousands of people opted for online courses for upskilling and reskilling. Most of these were from avenues outside the conventional educational structures. From free courses on YouTube to specialized programs from industry veterans, there are a plethora of options to choose from. Schools, colleges, and other educational institutions risk losing their students to these platforms, so digitalization was given top priority.
Flexibility: Digital technologies allow students to learn at their pace. With recorded sessions, they can always go back and relearn. Although there was initial skepticism about online education, the flexibility it offered comforted parents.
Multi-media content: One of the reasons why online classes on everything from cooking to quantum physics have become popular on YouTube is because they make the subject easy to understand. When presented with charts, videos, animation, and graphics, even the most difficult of subjects become easily comprehensible. Students seeing a rocket launch on digital signage is different from them reading about it in a textbook.
Involvement of parents: Digital technology also enables parents to be part of the process. While they need not be involved in remote learning sessions, they can always help their children access different kinds of content and help them understand. It also empowers parents to communicate with their teachers without having to visit the school.
Educational institutions of all sizes are using digital technology in varying forms. The adoption of these technologies can be clubbed into academic and non-academic uses. Both provide demonstrable and compelling benefits to all the stakeholders including students, teachers, school administrators, and parents.
The biggest adoption has been in remote learning. Schools haven’t had to significantly invest in any new infrastructure, other than ensuring that both the teaching staff and the students have access to the internet. While there were initial hiccups as it was a new delivery module, it has been widely accepted since then by everyone concerned.
Online learning vs. virtual learning. It’s important to understand the difference between online learning and virtual classes. Online learning is a relatively simpler method where the content is placed and delivered through online platforms. For e.g., a school may place its textbooks and pre-recorded lectures online for students to access.
Along with that, students will also be able to get all other curriculum-related content like charts, infographics, and academic papers. They can then learn it at their own pace and submit the assignments on time. This doesn’t require schools to embrace new technology but smartly utilize the existing ones.
In virtual learning, sessions are held live with group participation from students. So, students attend live sessions as a class and can interact with their teachers. Virtual learning will also give access to academic material but the key difference is that since it’s live and participatory, the learning pace is pre-determined. It mirrors a physical classroom except for the fact that all the participants are remotely placed.
It’s important to note that virtual learning has distinct advantages over the traditional online learning system. It makes learning a group activity and ensures that teachers can address concerns in real-time. But for it to be effective, both schools and parents will have to ensure internet connections with higher bandwidth and the hardware with the necessary capacity.
These trace the movements of afflicted students or staff and those they would have come in contact with. By giving administrators their locations, it makes it easy for educational institutions to find hot spots and take the necessary quarantine measures. These mobile apps are empowering administrators to open schools while maintaining safety protocols.
The reason these apps are effective is that in crowded spaces like schools and colleges, it would be difficult for students or faculty to remember everyone they would have come in contact with. The reentry plans of most institutions now depend on these apps.
Schools and colleges are using artificial intelligence to read the temperatures of students and mark those with higher readings. The administrators can then read their temperature and decide what to do next. The advantage of this technology is that it does away with human intervention.
Such contactless technologies have the power to not just detect probable incidents of infection but do it fast and alert the authorities in real-time. Coupled with contact tracing apps, these will help administrators isolate the students, and inform their parents and healthcare providers.
The need for real-time information sharing has never been greater than during the pandemic. This is especially true for schools and colleges that would have to immediately reach their students, faculty, and support staff in case of medical emergencies.
Several schools have started using instant messaging platforms to alert students and keep them in the know about the latest news and guidelines. Others have resorted to one of the most effective digital technological solutions out there; digital signages.
The schools that had implemented digital signage solutions saw its benefits during the reopening. While they were convinced about its benefits earlier, the reentry made them realize that it’s one of the smartest digital technologies a school can employ.
Communication: Do you want to inform everyone about safety protocols? Or tell them what they need to do if someone is suspected of an infection? You can use your digital screens at lobbies, halls, auditoriums, and classrooms to communicate those.
Wayfinding: You won’t need student volunteers to guide visitors inside your campus. Keeping all social distancing protocols in place, you can direct them through digital signages.
Focused messaging: Instead of reaching everyone, sometimes you may need to contact only a select group, like the faculty. In such instances, you can use digital signages to give targeted messaging. For example, if you want to increase signups for the drama club, you can share content from the members.
Enhanced content: With digital signages, you can also share news and showcase selected and relevant social media feeds. With EasySignage, for example, you can share breaking news on healthcare, politics, security, sports, business, and even share the social media channels of your institution or those that you follow. These will drive up engagement.
Checkout out Easysignage at easysignage.com.
The world has dramatically changed over the last 18 months or so. Institutions and sectors that were sluggish about adopting technology have changed course. This is true for schools, colleges, and other educational institutions. From a need, technology has now become a necessity.
Digital signages are one of the easiest and cost-effective technologies to deploy. You don’t need external help to create and share content on EasySignage, as it doesn’t require any technical expertise. You can also start small and expand as you see the need. The schools that deploy technology will eventually understand that fewer solutions can connect large audiences with such efficiency.