The last 18 months have rarely seen education out of the headlines, with much speculation about students’ futures. But behind the headlines, how have institutions adapted to the pandemic and what lessons can be learned for the months and years ahead?
1. Online learning can be faster but needs to be more engaging
Well over a billion students worldwide suddenly found themselves learning from home in March last year.
Microsoft reported school districts and universities around the world moved rapidly into remote learning environments, with Microsoft Teams being used in 175 countries by 183,000 education institutions.
So how did we fare?
Research shows that students are able to learn faster online. It takes 40-60% less time to learn than in a classroom because students can go at their own pace, going back and re-reading, skipping, or accelerating through coursework as they choose.
It’s also suggested that, on average, students retain 25-60% more material when learning online compared to only 8-10% in a classroom.
However, the experience isn’t always engaging, with 77% of students reporting that they have had difficulty adjusting.
The key learning here is to adapt to the medium. For example, integrating games and other sensory feedback increases engagement and motivation to learn, especially among younger students.
2. Technology can play a greater role in learning
Today’s collaborative solutions are enabling schools to remain agile amid unpredictable times, and that technology will continue to influence learning techniques for years to come.
For example, teachers report that parents evenings are easier to schedule and run using video chat that counts down the allotted time. Online classrooms help to meld coursework with homework for more joined-up learning. And students unable to attend the classroom can pair up with those who can, using online tools to work on problems together – just as many employees in the world of business do today.
The key learning here is to harness technology in creative ways. And that if you’re running hybrid classrooms, design it with online in mind and use the in-person element as an extension.
3. Teachers need better support – and simpler solutions
Supporting and training teachers is more important than ever. A survey of teachers in 60 countries found that 60% of them said they were not prepared for online learning.
The key learning here is to ensure the technology provided is simple and reliable to use.
Consider, for example, a dedicated device for video meetings, such as the ThinkSmart Hub.
No wasting time setting up or altering existing PCs or laptops. Just a full HD touchscreen with straightforward icons, including a one-touch meeting start.
4. Budgets are lower, but will still need to invest in security
Worryingly, the latest figures show that schools are the no.2 target for ransomware attacks and 87% of educational establishments have now experienced at least one successful cyberattack.
It’s no co-incidence that since COVID-19, the FBI has seen a 300% increase in cybercrime. With the rise of remote learning comes the extra security risks associated with devices scattered across the internet.
The need to invest in security is stronger than ever. The problem is, the money has been going elsewhere.
The learning here is to standardise on one comprehensive approach to make best use of your budget.
Lenovo can protect your network and devices in one move. ThinkShield protects identities, data, devices and shields against online threats, safeguarding students and staff online.
5. Change is here to stay
The unplanned and rapid move to online learning proved a challenge for many, especially those with no training and insufficient technology. But since then the education sector has done well to adapt and the benefits of online learning have become more visible.
As institutions around the world tentatively open their doors again, the established integration of IT in education will continue and a new hybrid model of learning looks ever-more likely.