How the Pandemic Brought Permanent Changes to Education

The disruptive effects of the pandemic have been well publicized. Unfortunately, disruption occurred across all frameworks, not just in supply chains and consumer buying habits. In fact, Covid has had a widespread effect in bringing about significant changes in education.

Many experts believe that these changes in education are here to stay. However, these changes do not spell doom and gloom for K-12 schools, business schools and higher education institutions.

On the contrary. Education has not undergone sudden, evolutionary growth for decades. Changes in education may actually be a bit delayed. Yes, some aspects of education have improved due to new technologies. And yet, the basic learning model has not seen seismic motion – until now.

After more than a year with teachers, administrators and students struggling to exchange knowledge innovatively – and externally – a different educational path forward has emerged. Listed below are a few of the key upheavals that will help reinvent both private and public school systems.

Grades become less important than practical assessments.

GPA has not quite gone the dinosaur’s path. Nevertheless, many people still see GPA as an accurate measure of learning. However, as noted in research conducted by Instructure, the manufacturer behind Canvas, less than a third of educators felt that tests reflected knowledge gains. Instead, 76% of them preferred to use formative assessments to measure progress.

This step away from seeing students as “A-students” or “failures” receives excellent grades from many researchers. When handled properly, formative assessments can remove the “high-stakes” grade that causes so much anxiety among many students. Formative assessments can also be used in conjunction with more traditional test vehicles when appropriate.

College courses are in line with career trends.

For a long time, many have argued that colleges and universities should secure the future of their curricula by offering more relevant courses, certifications and degrees. Finally, after the pandemic, this is starting to happen more often on campuses around the country.

Case in point? Interactive game.

According to Randy Pitchford, president of Gearbox Entertainment, the interactive entertainment industry is finally being taken seriously as a career path. When Pitchford started making interactive video games many years ago, he admits he had to learn on his own. At the time, higher education did not see the video game industry as relevant.

Today, Pitchford is happy to see that everything has changed for upcoming talented programmers and creatives. As he explained to college students interested in entertainment professions, “Now there are entire college programs dedicated to this craft, meaning the next crop of entertainers will be more equipped than ever to develop and design amazing games.”

Hybrid learning enjoys its moment.

Although Zoom fatigue became a real problem during the pandemic, not all students saw online learning as a negative. For many, it was safe to be able to attend classes online while providing access to essential information. In addition, online students had a greater choice of schools about where they would learn. This was especially true for post-secondary courses, degrees and certifications.

Although many K-12 and high schools have returned to personal learning, they have been open to online learning and taken a hybrid approach.

For example, many teachers now take classes so that absent students can see them later. Some offer live streaming options for students who cannot be in the classroom. Keep in mind that many schools upgraded their technologies under Covid to include webcams in learning spaces. Therefore, they are eager to continue using these technologies and get the highest return on these investments.

Colleges and universities are moving towards making test-optional applications the norm.

For decades, students had to take standardized tests like SAT and ACT to apply to colleges. Then SAT and ACT canceled tests as the pandemic swept the country. No test meant that countless high school students were left without a critical evaluation. In response, higher education institutions — including some in the Ivy League test — became optional.

The decision to look at university applicants through a different lens was a natural reaction to a problem. As it turns out, it drove popularity and pressure to colleges. As a result, many institutions have made themselves test-optional for the foreseeable future.

Parents are more engaged than before in their children’s education.

As children began to learn from desktops, laptops, and tablets, their parents were often by their side. No doubt working mothers and fathers struggled to try to be there for their children during the school day. Nevertheless, they ended up becoming stronger partners in their children’s learning and development.

Surveys conducted by EdWeek reveal that nearly 80% of teachers believed that their communication with parents increased during the pandemic. Better communication is another positive result for education, which has long been plagued by interruptions between educators and parents. As parents take more of a “we are in this together” approach to their children’s education, schools and their staff feel more supported. In addition, it can be easier for teachers to have heated discussions about poorly performing students with understanding mothers and fathers.

Administrations train teachers in technology.

Quite a few teachers were caught unawares when they had to move their class work online. First, they had to master Zoom, whether or not they were familiar with tech. Similarly, they owed their students better utilization of cloud-based and network-based learning management systems. As a result, many went out on their own to acquire know-how in the ed-tech space.

It is important to ensure that educators are not caught flat-footed and without these vital skills again.

Hopefully, a full-scale pandemic will never surprise everyone again. However, something else can cause just as great disruption in the educational process. Interruption is one of the reasons why schools are putting their focus on training their teams in recent advances. Therefore, teachers will be better able to flex their technological muscles quickly, just to do so.

Covid caused several learning shocks. At the same time, the pandemic gave the education system a much-needed wake-up call. After all, children, teenagers and young people in school will be in the workplace soon. They deserve a relevant education to start a satisfying career. Overall, it is a good thing that there are changes in the education to meet their needs at exactly the right time.

Image credit: pexels; thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the managing editor of ReadWrite. Previously, she worked as editor-in-chief of Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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