Pandemic lockdown orders, you may recall, were often controversial. But, in hindsight, they confirmed one point beyond dispute: even the first developed world requires resilient, disaster-proof technology infrastructure for emergencies. This proved especially true in the education sector, where, three years on, we’ve begun to measure the lasting value of good, user-friendly EdTech. Here are four instructive education insights we’ve learned.
First, adapting learning strategies for COVID-19 and stay-at-home pupils in early 2020 was often a stressful scramble. Some students initially lacked online access, which meant missing out—although collaboration among schools, governments, and technology providers soon improved the situation. Willingness to innovate on the fly helped keep schools functioning, as it did society itself.
Second, the pandemic period helped us verify the benefits of Intelligent Learning Platforms—ILPs for short—which helped remote, homebound students remain productive, and even thrive. One core feature of a modern ILP is built-in personalization: teachers can tailor work to students depending on individual abilities and rates of progress, so each learner can hone their skills at their own pace. The latest ILPs harness data and analytics, even Artificial Intelligence, to assess a student’s progress and suggest appropriate new assignments. (This is particularly helpful for SEND students: those with special educational needs and disabilities.)
Yes, many learners during the pandemic were challenged by the lack of a live classroom with face-to-face, real-time feedback—but we found that ILPs went a long way to compensate, supporting their ability to work in a way that suited them.
A third point: we’ve seen ILPs improve relationships between students and teachers. It’s common for students forced into remote learning to report feeling isolated and disconnected—not only from peers but from teachers too. Yet a positive, encouraging student-teacher dynamic is critical for good educational outcomes, improved student well-being, and higher staff satisfaction. ILPs enable teachers to continue engaging with learners, hosting group discussions, assigning personalized work, and providing feedback just as they would in a physical classroom. This is key to maintaining a positive relationship between teacher and student during times of remote learning. Teachers can also message students within the platform to share advice, tips, and tailored learning content, maintaining a degree of mentorship with the student.
The fourth and final insight: a quality EdTech platform is a boon to teachers battling time-management issues—and isn’t that all teachers? An ILP can allow them to focus more on the pastoral element of their job and promote better, more positive communication with their students. Those data and analytics features make it easier for teachers to chart their students’ progress and spot those who may be finding certain coursework more challenging.
Teacher-student relationships are important at the best of times, but even more vital in remote learning; during pandemic days, some pupils found online classes their sole connection to the outside world. In such emergencies, it is vital that students feel these connections are responsive and supportive; they may be literal lifelines.
It is fair to ask why these four education insights remain relevant now, with lockdowns, we hope, blessedly over, and life returned largely to normal. The forthright answer is that the need for technological resilience in learning, brought home to all of us by the pandemic, is permanent and ongoing; many sorts of emergencies can disrupt an education routine. A prime example, of course, is the war in Ukraine, where vast numbers of students displaced by the conflict have turned to online learning platforms to continue their education. Closer to home, we deal with other categories of challenging events, from industrial action to immobilizing snowstorms, which have forced school closures and brought back the focus on remote learning. The world will remain unpredictable, and unforeseen events can always disrupt comfortable routines.
One excellent response to this new reality is to build resilience into all our systems so they are as disaster-proof as possible. Few such systems are as important as the education infrastructure serving our young people. The importance of learners receiving consistent and stable teaching despite challenging, hopefully temporary, external circumstances is critical to their educational, mental, and psychological development. Of all the moves we can make to counter the effects of sudden chaos, surely one top priority is to equip our young people to continue learning, come what may.
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