At Kami, we are speaking to educators around the world every day – through our Facebook groups, on Twitter, Instagram, via our webinars, by Zoom, and on the phone. And what has become increasingly clear to us from the thousands of interactions over recent months, is that education is not going to go “back to normal”.
A digital transformation was already underway in many schools, albeit at a measured pace and in the face of persistent doubts. But remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated it. As we move through what is becoming a seminal moment for education, we’d like to share some of our thoughts and observations on the direction of change and the most significant trends our educators have highlighted to us in recent months.
The teacher’s role has been evolving for some time
The traditional role of the teacher as purely a gatekeeper to knowledge was already being eroded long before the pandemic hit. What new information could you possibly reveal to a student when everything mankind has learned over the last 10,000 years is in their pocket?
Today, for students on the privileged side of the digital divide at least, accessing knowledge is easy. Applying it is hard. Skills are hard. So 21st-century schools have been bridging the divide, and teachers have learned to guide students as they discover knowledge, verify the accuracy of what they find, analyse information to generate new insights, learn skills, and develop their creative talents.
Teacher-centric live lessons are becoming less relevant
As knowledge becomes more universal, teachers are also stepping away from traditional lecture-type (or teacher-centric) forms of education. A process that has been significantly sped up by remote learning.
Early attempts at simply shifting normal lessons to live online classes were not promising. Getting all your students onto a videoconference at the same time to listen to you deliver a lesson live is a logistical nightmare, and even when it worked it suddenly felt archaic, not futuristic. Many teachers moved quickly to reinvent the lesson, embracing asynchronous learning approaches, exciting new tools and an understanding (rather than assessment) focused perspective.
Equally disruptive to the normal classroom rhythm was the absence of printing and photocopying. Teaching resources could no longer be run off on the school printer, physically shared amongst colleagues between classrooms, or disseminated amongst students to be completed with paper and pen. It sounds like a disaster, and for many educators, it was a significant challenge – but in the place of the printer, creative digital workarounds have flourished, leaving many wondering why they ever spent so much precious teaching and planning time waiting for copies.
Remote learning has evolved rapidly and substantially from the early trial and error, driven forward by passionate educators around the world coming together online to forge an incredible online ‘Manhatten Project’, in real-time.
Flexibility is the byword
Since the beginning of this new century we’ve seen the office/home barrier first blurred and then breached entirely by online technologies and devices, starting with the Blackberry. Office work is no longer restricted to a physical office.
For us at Kami, this also meant that when Covid-19 hit, we were able to close our office and transition seamlessly to 100% remote working literally overnight, with no loss of productivity or service availability.
Educators, on the other hand – with an eye to digital inequality – have mostly resisted this blurring of boundaries. Opting instead to protect the proven universal efficacy of the classroom as the exclusive location of K12 learning; homework being generally restricted to prescribed individual activities.
But then in 2020, the coronavirus finally blew open the school gates. More and more visionary educators are seeing what could be possible when technology is ubiquitous and learning is not restricted to a specific time and a physical location. The accelerated adoption of modern online edtech tools has opened pandora’s box for tech-savvy students and teachers alike. Now they’ve had a tantalising glimpse of the potential, that stuff ain’t going back in there.
Universities will see the biggest changes
The future of tertiary education is clearly going to involve a lot more online learning. The lecture theatre experience for delivering content is being increasingly supplemented by streaming online webinars, delivered by the “rock-star” professors with the best ratings. Covid-19 attached a locomotive to this trend.
But it’s equally clear that the few purely online degrees on offer are struggling to break through to the mainstream. Colleges and students alike insist that in-person study groups, tutorials, labs, networking and social events are irreplaceable in the learning and personal development process and will surely always be part of a successful tertiary education landscape.
Flipped Classrooms and Blended Learning are coming
In K12 education on the other hand, we’re convinced from our discussions with educators all over the world that the classroom will retain its preeminence as the primary location for the nurturing of young and evolving minds. Students are garnering more than knowledge and useful techniques in a classroom. It’s also a place to develop teamwork, leadership, presentation, persuasion, empathy, collaboration, conflict resolution, and compromise skills.
But while the classroom is at the center, it’s no longer the only place for learning. Students and teachers now need the right tools to engage with each other and their learning resources in class, at home, or wherever they are provided access and opportunity. The blend of real-time and asynchronous learning has many exciting possibilities for the benefit of learners, particularly by introducing the flexibility to tailor the learning experience for each student and their individual situation. These new forms of teaching, flipped classroom or blended learning enable students to engage with learning resources, their classmates, and their teachers wherever they may be, at their own pace, and using their preferred medium – writing, chat, voice, or video – to communicate and share their ideas.
Kami doesn’t just fit into this future vision for education – we are helping make it a reality
At Kami we have a vision to connect learners and make education accessible to everyone, no matter where they are. Our collaborative learning software can help to meet the needs of current and future students and educators as they move towards a more flexible future.
And we can also help smooth the transition: With Kami, every teaching resource you already use can be brought to life as an online canvas for expression or analysis – a launch platform for insight, collaboration, and learning. Inside the classroom and beyond.
Kami: Any medium, any time, anywhere. Engage. Interact. Learn.
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