Tech is reshaping education, but there?s nothing like a live teacher

As teachers start returning to classrooms, there are several new education technology trends they should bring back with them.

Google Classroom has become so ubiquitous that Chicago Public Schools threatened that if teachers didn?t report for the first day of in-person learning on Monday, January 11, they?d be locked out of their accounts. While tech is not a replacement for a live teacher, COVID-19 is reshaping how technology is used in education.

The ed-tech sector is expected to more than triple in North America from $76.4 billion in 2019 to $285.2 billion in 2027. Even before COVID-19 forced schools to move to remote learning, tech tools increasingly were used to support students? diverse learning needs. Digital Promise, a nonprofit organization, argues that tech can help create equity in schools. ?It removes barriers to learning materials, supports students where they are across varied learning contexts and needs, and gives educators more insight into the learning environments they?re creating.? Even though the FCC estimates that one-third of Americans still don?t have access to high-speed internet at home, 99% of public schools have broadband internet, up from just 14% in 1994.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) doesn?t yet know if this class of applicants is more diverse than in previous years. But people of color in the US are 3.5 times more likely than whites to get COVID, making it more important than ever that historically underrepresented pre-med candidates know how to be competitive when applying. Most undergraduate classes have moved online and medical school admissions teams have shifted to virtual interviews, though the MCAT exam has resumed in-person testing (MCAT rescheduling fees are waived).?

We at CPASS recommend these action steps for schools to take advantage of the latest education technology trends:

1. Remote learning. At both the K?12 and university levels, distance learning has allowed for the continuity of schooling while COVID-19 surges, though not without frustrations. According to the 2020 Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE) survey, ?students are traumatized by the overall experience of the pandemic and at times equate that with online learning,? shared one university?s chief online officer (COO). But for students who are resilient enough to stay engaged, distance learning has the potential to be effective and accessible. A recent Brookings Institution report explains how artificial intelligence is beginning to help students learning online to identify their misconceptions, and why they?ve made specific errors.?

2. Assistive technology in special education.Tech empowers students with learning differences to access information in ways they can understand. For students with dyslexia, speech-to-text software allows students to dictate ideas that otherwise would be challenging for them to write or type. The Livescribe Smartpen is a tool that records notes as they?re written so they can be played back as audio later. Or, if someone is talking too fast to take notes, the pen has a microphone that connects with the device?s text-to-speech computer software.

3.?Blended learning to personalize learning experiences. Teachers now can work with a small group of students while the rest of the class learns using engaging apps. Engaging (and mostly free!) programs such as Khan Academy, BrainPOP, and Duolingo can help make learning more efficient, interactive, and fun for students while collecting helpful assessment data that teachers and students can analyze to figure out what to focus on next.

4.?Flipped classroom resources.?Some students may need more time or physical space to digest new information. Flipped classroom programs allow teachers to record lectures and mini-lessons that students can play back at their own pace, learning from the teacher they?re used to. Explain Everything has tools to record a screen so the teacher can share video and notes. The Nearpod app has an interactive presentation tool where teachers can build in quizzes, virtual reality experiences, and live polls.

At CPASS Foundation, we are here to support with introducing traditionally underrepresented middle school, high school, and college students to STEMM subjects, majors, and training. We provide guidance and thought leadership to help create opportunities for Illinois-based students to participate in STEMM-related fields.? Contact Dr. Stephen Martin to learn more about how you can partner with CPASS Foundation to create more opportunities for Black and other underrepresented students in the Chicago area.