The coronavirus pandemic presented unprecedented challenges for schools. Teaching became a juggling act. Educators were forced to navigate the never-ending stress of new local, regional, and national rules and the ongoing adaptation of their classrooms. A dizzying amount of flexibility was required. Materials, strategies, and techniques needed to reach students in-person, online, and in hybrid settings had to be adjusted on the turn of a dime.
The COVID pandemic has changed much about how we live and how we work. Nowhere is this more evident than in our schools – in how we safely teach our students and how our students learn, safely. The challenge with schools is that, from a safety perspective, educational institutions were already under siege.
I’m not a formal educator, but I am a parent to a student who spent a good chunk of the last year learning from home. I also work in an industry that supports educators and administrators. As I reflect on the past 18 months and my discussions with colleagues and partners across the U.S. and in Europe, I have identified a few truths and trends about education.
At Everett Public Schools, we’ve always had a robotics team at the elementary and secondary levels. Last year we were up to 50 robotics teams within the FIRST organization. During the shutdown, we went into a panic over how students wouldn’t be able to physically “touch” and work on the robots on campus anymore.
Across the country, millions of students have been learning remotely since March 2020. According to the US Census, nearly 93 percent of people in households reported their children engaged in some form of distance learning this year. With that in mind, as another school year ends, device reclamation is more distributed than ever.
Online learning has untapped potential for students across the nation, and while the COVID-19 pandemic forced classrooms online in early 2020, that doesn’t mean learning became more innovative and personalized. To what extent have educators used the pandemic as an opportunity to realize online learning’s benefits?
We live in a world where learning and technology are intrinsically linked, especially in the minds of our youth. But do today’s students process information differently because it comes on a digital device? Is there a correlation between technology use and plummeting literacy rates? And is the way our young people consume information negatively impacting their growth as learners?