Even though it was clear technology would one day reshape education, no one expected it to change overnight. But that’s exactly what happened when the pandemic hit. Suddenly, educators who previously had rarely or never used devices in the classroom now had to adapt traditional educational models to fit the digital world. As the pandemic wore on, schools in the U.S., for example, that once had limited budgets for edtech found themselves flooded with federal support dollars they had to use or lose.
Though much of the new edtech primarily solved temporary needs, the insights gained from implementing it don’t have to be lost with the return of in-person learning. Here are five specific technologies that became more prominent in the pandemic-era and should continue to be used moving forward.
1. Software for digital oversight
The abrupt transition to remote learning made it challenging to monitor students and guide them through roadblocks. Before the pandemic, teachers could walk around the room to ensure students were following along. Over the last three years, teachers began to rely on classroom management software to help monitor students’ progress during online classes. Today, students are continuing to incorporate laptop use within the physical classroom, so teachers can still benefit from the efficiency and visibility into student work that was gained from using classroom management software.
2. Collaboration solutions for virtual environments
During the pandemic, most educators became adept at using edtech that facilitated digital collaboration, using video conferencing services for conducting class remotely and facilitating virtual breakout groups. Many schools also began using chat functionality so students could work together on projects. With over 80% of surveyed learning-design professionals indicating that collaborative learning is “important” or “essential”, tools that facilitate collaboration should remain, especially as students learn digital literacy and improve skills that they will eventually use in a tech-forward workforce.
3. Strengthened security and safety
Just because students are back on campus does not mean schools should roll back the cybersecurity protections put in place during the pandemic, including threat detection, web filtering, and other cybersecurity solutions. Education continues to be the most-targeted industry for cyber threats, receiving more than 80% of the world’s enterprise malware encounters every month. As the cyber threat landscape continues to evolve, schools will need to ramp up protections to keep networks and students safer – whether students are learning in school or remotely.
4. Device management solutions
Now that students – and their devices – are traveling more, the need for remote device management is paramount. IT administrators within schools need the ability to locate devices and access them to make updates. They also need a clear picture of each device’s health, as student technology is often subject to significant wear and tear. Device management solutions automatically collect hundreds of data points to understand usage and automate hardware inventory, helping IT teams streamline their processes and take proactive measures before any issues arise.
5. Online instructional resources
One major benefit of pandemic-era tech adoption was that it drove the incorporation of more learning resources, including educational videos, photos, learning modules, and podcasts. Now, teachers continue to leverage these resources to support their teaching goals. Moreover, schools with the budget for virtual reality (VR) technology are benefiting from the proliferation of experiential and immersive learning content through VR devices. Students can practice skills, see concepts in action, visit new places, and develop stronger empathy by using VR in the classroom, leveling the playing field for some who may not have those opportunities otherwise.
Looking forward: artificial intelligence
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in educational settings has become more prevalent over the past three years and even more so in recent months with the buzz around the use of generative AI technology. Though questions, challenges, and potential concerns remain, AI in general can be an incredibly useful assistive teaching tool that can facilitate the development of instructional materials, personalize teaching, or even automate routine tasks so teachers can focus on other, value-driving activities.
Today, the education world is more open to transformation and advancement than ever before — which ultimately benefits students who need digital literacy skills as they prepare to enter the workforce. Now it’s up to school leadership to continue facing future advancements with an open mind and eager spirit. The schools that resist the change and maintain the status quo will struggle as the industry continues to evolve. Those that embrace it will be rewarded with safer environments, happier and more fulfilled teachers, and more successful students