How Ed Tech Can Help the Return to Study Post-Pandemic

September 2, 2021
Students

Unsure what student life will be like next month? So is the rest of the population. Given how the last 18 months have been less than idyllic, the return to study post-pandemic seems a bit rocky. So here’s how Ed Tech can help to save the day.

What is Ed Tech?

Ed Tech (or perhaps more formally, Education Technology) is not new on the agenda. This has been used in schools for over two decades. The main aim is to enhance learning and education. On average, around $19 billion is spent on Ed Tech annually. 

Think less about robots on wheels reading books to you, and more about IT tools. There are several types of Ed Tech that go from computer software to teaching programmes – Excel and Word documents are one such example. In any case, Ed Tech is designed to make our lives easier. 

The role of Ed Tech pre and post-pandemic

Ed Tech has always had a fundamental role in teaching and learning. Think about programmes like Typing Club to help kids learn and practise touch-type. Online services like Coursera have helped people get necessary qualifications for employment (and enjoyment) too.

Since the pandemic, schools and institutions have been striving to keep up with the latest trends. There was an increased demand for technology, and a rush to transform teaching to the virtual classroom. Now the question is: how can we adapt this further post-pandemic?

The reality is, we’ve had a taste of the future. It would seem almost silly to revert back to the old methods of teaching if Ed Tech has actually benefited the learning world. So let’s go over just a few of the ways students (and teachers) can ease back from URL into IRL.

Encourages a student-led focus

One of the biggest pros of using Ed Tech is that students can take charge of their learning. There are many tools that allow them to track their grades and progress. They get instantaneous feedback and the ability to learn from their mistakes quicker. So this also means there’s more room and time to practise particular skills and gaps in their knowledge.

There are several platforms that test student’s learning, like online quizzes or interactive webinars. This creates a ‘learn as you go’ approach, which is much more intuitive. The classroom can be quite stifling for many, whereas imploring the use of technology makes students hot on the ball. They get to learn (and be tested) in a more comfortable environment. Overall, this improves the efficacy of teaching and individuals’ performance.

Improves teaching technique and class engagement

A huge element of teaching is being fun and creative; using technology is noted as a sign of moving with the times. These qualities are what help keep a class engaged and switched-on, so to speak. So teachers who use technology will fit the bill, helping them to create more of an authority in the classroom.

A side benefit of this is that the focus switches from a competitive class performance, to prioritising the learning process overall. In essence, students assume the role of a user; the classes are adapted to their strategy. This is pretty much our approach at Tutor House: creating a personalised learning strategy that suits each students’ needs.

Better grades and academic performance 

It might come as a shock, but using Ed Tech actually boosts students’ grades. One study looked at how the Blackboard tool used at universities impacted learning. Blackboard is a popular feature where you can store reading materials, recorded lectures and even assignments for each module. It’s a pretty nifty way to keep up with the demands of university!

The researchers measured the grades of 122 undergraduates and compared the difference in performance between those who used Blackboard regularly, and those who didn’t. They found that 80% of students who made more use out of this tool were achieving A and B grades, and higher pass rates.

So even despite all the disrupted and missed education, universities can use Ed Tech as a stop-gap to help students catch up and learn at their own pace.

Improve literacy skills

Another way Ed Tech can help is within literacy development. Unsurprisingly, the reading level of students between 11 and 18 years old has significantly declined. It’s not just due to poor-schooling, but also individuals who are at a high risk of social exclusion. This includes pupils learning English as a second language, with a disability or those disengaged with learning. Suffice to say, many young pupils are now not meeting their age-related expectations.

In order to combat this social issue, schools are using software to provide a better learning opportunity. One study by Boulton (2017) found that using Ed Tech led to a more collaborative, creative and enhanced learning experience. After interviewing these pupils, the consensus was that they had more confidence and were more motivated to learn. This is because pupils are no longer competing with others in the classroom, but working to their own level.

The results after using software for young pupils who were at risk of social exclusion were astronomical. The majority of school kids said that learning was nearly 50% more fun! Ed Tech gave them more freedom to learn, revisit areas they were struggling with and get relevant credit on their work. In doing so, tech improved literacy by 3 levels during the academic year. Bullseye!

Ed Tech is the solution to our problems

As with everything, there is a huge market for technology. But this was especially true during the pandemic, as it motivated a push towards online learning. Naturally this wasn’t easy; you’d expect a slow transition from paper to pixels.

When you take a look back at the history, the nature of pandemics does force societies to adapt and revolutionise their strategy. The same can be said over the last 18 months; schools and universities had no other option but to trust technology. In this case, Ed Tech resembles “solutionism”. Yet whilst the Google teacher was the norm, we’re still a long way from holographic lecturers!

So, what now?

The best way that Ed Tech can be used in the return to school is by handing the baton over to the students. Tech creates a more personalised and interactive learning approach. All in all, this is a better learning environment, as it allows students to work to their own demands and full potential.

As Williamson (2021) put it: “Ed tech is a short-term solution and long-term post-pandemic educational reconstruction”. Take that as you will!

References

Boulton, H. (2017). Exploring the effectiveness of new technologies: Improving literacy and engaging learners at risk of social exclusion in the UK. Teaching and Teacher Education, 63, 73-81.

Davies, J., and Martin, G. (2005). Performance in e-Learning: Online Participation and Student Grades. British Journal of Educational Technology. 36. 657 - 663. 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2005.00542.x. 

Higgins, S. (2003). Does ICT Improve Learning and Teaching in Schools?

Malin Ideland (2021) Google and the end of the teacher? How a figuration of the teacher is produced through an ed-tech discourse, Learning, Media and Technology, 46:1, 33-46, DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2020.1809452

Teräs, M., Suoranta, J., Teräs, H. et al. (2020). Post-Covid-19 Education and Education Technology ‘Solutionism’: a Seller’s Market. Postdigit Sci Educ 2, 863–878. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-020-00164-x

Williamson, B. (2021) Meta-edtech, Learning, Media and Technology, 46:1, 1-5, DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2021.1876089

Wright, D, B. (2019) Research Methods for Education With Technology: Four Concerns, Examples, and Recommendations. Front. Educ. 4:147. DOI: 10.3389/feduc.2019.00147

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Naida Allen

Naida is a witty wordsmith with a love for writing and reading. She is a Content Writer and Social Media Executive at Tutor House — the top UK provider of online and in-person tuition. She specialises in topics relating to mental & physical wellbeing and career advice.

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