Sam Cover is a chef with a passion for hyper-local ingredients and sustainability. His culinary practices go beyond taste. He’s also concerned about the future of our society. This led him to take a close look at educational technology post 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed our world in many ways, but it had a huge effect on education. Schools were shut down for months or even full semesters. Lockdowns and stay at home orders changed society, and became the new normal.
Cover says schools are currently reopening for the 2021-22 school year, but many questions still remain. With new COVID variants rising, it’s likely that doors will close again, at least temporarily in some areas.
Many students and parents are opting for virtual learning or homeschool, while others are gearing up for in-person learning.
2020 was a difficult year for teachers. 46% of teachers state that their ability to use educational technology has improved a lot since the school closures of 2020, and 41% say their tech skills have improved a little.
Teachers cited many difficulties, including a lack of face-to-face interaction and technical issues. However, many said they plan to incorporate educational technology in new ways after schools reopen.
42% of teachers said their outlook on educational technology has become a little more positive, and 16% said it had become much more positive. Overall, 58% reported a more positive view of educational technology, and 25% said their opinions hadn’t changed. Only 17% reported a more negative view.
Sam notes that the biggest concern for students is access to devices and the internet. It’s known as the “homework gap”, and it was a critical factor during the lockdowns. Essentially, low-income students are less likely to have their own device. They are also less likely to have a broadband internet connection.
With most or all learning occurring digitally, this widens the already existing gap in quality education.
The struggle also exists for schools. Only 43% of elementary schools with 75% or more low income students have a device for every student. In schools with 25% or less low income students, the number of schools with student-dedicated devices rises to 54%.
The largest gap exists among high schools. 45% of low income majority high schools have a device for each student, compared to 96% of schools with 25% or less low income students.
One of the biggest shifts in education has been what is being taught. Traditional education often focuses on memorization. Students are expected to memorize facts and methods, and apply them. Tests were given to measure a student’s progress and learning retention.
If a student is ahead, they will be bored with the class. In fact, some students get poor grades not because they don’t understand the material. Instead, they are simply bored and aren’t interested in paying attention.
Students who fall behind have a different struggle. They are often left to catch up at home, because the class moves at the pace of the median student.
Edtech changes what students learn and how they learn it. It’s designed to hold the student’s interest in a way that worksheets and textbooks fail to accomplish.
Instead of memorization, it focuses on grasping concepts and virtual experience. Concepts can be presented in a more interactive way, which can also aid in learning.
Edtech can be self-paced. Children complete lessons at their pace. The class as a whole may be expected to maintain a pace. A chapter a week or a lesson a day are good examples. However, the student can spend the amount of time they need to grasp the material.
Evaluation is another important aspect of personalized learning. Many learning programs begin with an evaluation to see what the student knows. The learning material is then curated based on the results.
Teachers can monitor a student’s progress easily. Many programs grade each lesson, and most have short tests throughout the material. This makes it easy and convenient for teachers to check in with students.
One study found that 35% of teachers say that e-learning tools provide them with immediate and actionable data about the student’s progress and current knowledge.
Sam Cover is a Spokane Valley native. His culinary style is based on the Pacific Northwest style. He’s an advocate of the farm to table movement and supports using hyper-local ingredients. He’s well known for his “upscale comfort” style, which combines elegant presentation with farm-fresh ingredients.