The pandemic forced rapid change across the sector. A recent study, conducted by IBRS and commissioned by Zoom, highlights which lessons learnt from this experience should be driving the future of education practices.
From late 2020 through early 2021, as educators rushed to effectively deliver teaching and learning remotely through implementation of the right technologies, IBRS conducted interviews with 38 leaders in education (principals, teachers, technology leads, curriculum consultants, university executives) to track the changes taking place. It was clear from these interviews that as educators and students were exposed to
new options for engaging in education, new challenges were emerging, but also new opportunities.
“It was important for us to evaluate the impact of remote and hybrid delivery of education in Australia and other markets and understand how the Zoom platform facilitated learning and engagement,” says Ricky Kapur, Head of Zoom in Asia Pacific. “The report highlighted the importance of rethinking hybrid education and that the right technology is critical to creating an equitable, safe and enriching learning environment for educators and students.”
“There are various quality teaching models, but there are things in those quality teaching models that have never quite gotten across the line partly due to technology but mostly to do with the sheer weight and inertia of that existence inside education,” says Dr Joe Sweeney, Advisor – Future of Work at Intelligence Business Research Services (IBRS).
“That was the reasoning behind the research. We wanted to say ‘Okay remote learning has forced some of these quality teaching models to come to the fore. What were the lessons that we can take from this going forward? What should we keep?’” continues Sweeney.
The key ‘lessons’ gleaned from the research were:
• Lesson 1: Resilience starts with digital thinking.
• Lesson 2: The time for innovation is now.
• Lesson 3: No school stands alone.
• Lesson 4: Mental health matters.
• Lesson 5: Prioritise professional development.
• Lesson 6: Purposeful screen time.
• Lesson 7: Curriculum goes bite-sized.
• Lesson 9: Pedagogy gets laser-focused.
• Lesson 10: Time shifting education is the
new normal but demands new social norms.
• Lesson 11: Assessment is a trust equation.
• Lesson 12: Opportunities abound.
• Lesson 13: Build a technology ecosystem.
• Lesson 14: Equity of access still matters.
• Lesson 15: Embrace continuous change.
Sweeney explained that there is now a window of opportunity over the next three to five years to embed these changes into education. Lockdowns have shown that institutions can adapt and change quickly when people are allowed to innovate. The report states, “Now that educators are aware that they can change quickly and that educational institutions have the capacity to support trials and experiments in teaching and learning, we have the potential for a golden age of educational innovation.”
Sharing resources and parent involvement were two key areas Sweeney deemed crucial. “It’s about sharing resources – that is a really big thing that we should try and keep. The sector has been working on this for years now but here’s what’s changed: every teacher now knows how to teach remotely,” says Sweeney. “If you are a specialist class teacher you can present into another classroom, you can have split classrooms with students from multiple schools all coming together. We now have this opportunity for a real natural learning environment.”
According to the report, schools that transitioned well into hybrid education amid the pandemic had a digital mindset. This does not mean applying technology to different components of the education experience separately but building an integrated digital ecosystem that consolidates systems for students and teachers for greater efficiency. “Teachers seem to agree that rather than trying to throw all the latest technology at things – you only really need four key pieces of technology. Those key pieces all have to work together well so teachers don’t have to re-enter, re-enter, re-enter,” says Sweeney.
The pandemic forced parents into more of a teacher role and gave them a rare insight into their child’s education. The report highlighted that for many schools this has resulted in increased parent-teacher engagement. “We know that the home-school relationship, that parent involvement in their children’s education, is a very strong factor for student outcomes. And what we have seen over the last couple of years is that parents have had to become more involved in the student’s education,” says Sweeney.
“They got a window into how education functions and if we can continue that and if we can keep the parents engaged through the use of technology and other outreach programs that has the potential to have a significant uplift in student outcome,” Sweeney continues. Losing sight of such lessons would be a tragic lost opportunity, the report concludes: “It is up to us all – educators, policy-makers, administrators, technologists, students and parents – to ensure the lessons we’ve learned during the pandemic are taken forward and acted upon.”
For further information visit, explore.zoom.us/en/lp/zoom-ibrs-research- lessons-in-education
This article was originally published in Education Matters Secondary Magazine – to read the issue download it here.