When Covid 19 infects a person it brings about permanent changes in organs in the body. Likewise, if you consider society a body and its functions as organs then one organ that the coronavirus has affected is education. On the optimistic side, it portends a positive transformation in the education system. The negative fallout is that careers have been affected and education, especially the traditional way of education targeting those who do not have access to modern technology comes to a halt jeopardizing ill-equipped students. Still, if not today, then tomorrow at least these students will get access to technology and continuous education from a distance. The UN estimates that more than 1.6 billion students are impacted by the closure of schools across 190 countries.
The system and cascade effect
Education is not just about student-teacher interaction and learning. It is a business with a chain of linked services. The pandemic has totally disrupted this chain and affected revenues for everyone connected with education.
Schools and colleges worry about collecting fees. Is it fair to enroll students and charge fees when they know they are not going to provide any classroom teaching? On the other hand, without collections, these institutions cannot sustain their operations or pay salaries to teachers. This conundrum is partly resolved by switching to the use of the school management app for general administrative purposes and school online education systems linked to the management app, leading to a tech transformation in the education system. Classes can continue online, students can study and teachers can be paid.
However, the corona has brought about a transformation in the education system in that support service providers such as school bus drivers, contract vehicle providers, uniform providers, and textbook providers may be left high and dry as students stay at home and use digital study materials. As a side note, one can say that this is an opportune moment for IT to step in and work with educationists to provide interactive digital study materials adapted to prescribed courseware.
Go the distance
Distancing is motivating educational institutions to go the distance and explore technology to adapt to transformation in education systems. The easy way out is for schools to get teachers and students to use online free tools such as Google Meet, Zoom, WhatsApp, and Microsoft Meetings to ensure continuity of learning. These are, at best, stop-gap solutions. The more farsighted institutions will opt for custom tech solutions that go beyond simply being an online meeting place:
● School Management Apps that permit teachers to conduct classes with one too many, one to one interaction, scheduling, and recording
● Ability to hold tests, evaluate digital papers, assign marks, and send out mark sheets to students while storing data securely in database for each student, class, and division.
● Send out notifications to students and parents and interact through the app
● Provide digital study materials and reference digital books through the app for students
● Involve parents as collaborators with teachers to keep students focused on learning from home
● Administrators can use the app along with backend software custom built in order to have a digital view of all activities pertaining to administration, schooling, time tables, events, and fees collection as well as payment of salaries to staff and managing personnel.
One does not know if Corona will die down and vanish, allowing the resumption of normal education. In any case, neither students nor institutions can wait that long. The best way forward in the new normal is to adapt technology to ensure continuity, as many institutions are now doing. Selecting the right tech underpinning is crucial for the future. Online education is the way to go and this market will be worth $ 1.7 billion by 2022.
The fly in the ointment of remote education is that only 14% or so of rural households and 42% of urban households have access to smartphones and the internet. Only 8% of households have a computer with high-speed internet. Electricity is another question mark. The workaround to address smartphone and internet issues is to launch education TV channels but there is a lack of interactivity here whereas apps permit it.
Change is for the good
For those who are set in their ways, the transformation in the education system is difficult to adapt to but change is always for the good. Today, at the basic level, students and teachers can interact over video in the school management app. A recording can be accessed any number of times by students in order to help them to clarify points they do not understand. Tomorrow, there is still greater scope with the help of AR and VR. These can find their way into study materials and raise quality to the extent that even difficult to grasp abstract ideas are simplified and learning experience, such as geography or history or science, becomes immersive.
Corona led transformation in the education system is a pointer to progress and better learning experience provided you enlist technology across the spectrum. Rope in the right education institution software and app developers and lead the transformation.