When you think about the evolution of technology in the education sector, the COVID-19 pandemic shines as a defining turning point. Almost no industry was immune to the need for innovation to adapt to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jobs, businesses, celebrations — all of them have donned a virtual avatar since the last year and a half. However, as noted earlier, one of the most noteworthy shifts came in the education industry.
Before the pandemic, technology played a secondary, supporting role at best in the lives of educators and their pupils. However, after schools, colleges and universities shut their doors to avoid the spread of the virus, the pandemic acted as the impetus that made technology the very lifeline keeping livelihoods and learning going for those who could afford it.
Technology in the education sector has come a long way. From only select courses being available, the advancement and restructuring of the available resources have allowed practically every curriculum to be taught virtually. Features like break-out rooms, accommodating multiple participants and screen-sharing on the many available video conferencing platforms have allowed teachers to emulate, on some level, the interactions of a classroom.
Tools on the internet like Mentimeter, Google Jamboard, Kahoot, Quizlet, Genius Teacher, etc. gained popularity, too. To run through some of them: Mentimeter is a fun tool that makes presentations and discussions more interactive by creating stunning word clouds in real-time. Jamboard is another digital tool developed by Google, which acts as a whiteboard to facilitate ideas in real-time. One can add sticky notes, too, to the screen during use! Lastly, game-based learning platforms like Kahoot and Genius Teacher provide students with a quiz-based format to aid their comprehension and engagement with concepts, to make learning more fun. Such resources have found increasing usage by teachers to break the monotony of lectures.
Coming to MOOC platforms like Coursera, Edx, Khan Academy, Udemy and Canvas — these were around long before the pandemic struck. They beautifully exemplify the boons of a successful interplay between technology and education. The on-demand learning opportunities that these platforms provide have helped learners from different age groups up-skill themselves. They allow them to touch upon subjects beyond the scope of whatever course they might be pursuing.
Of course, the aspirations of students looking to pursue education opportunities overseas took a hit due to the closing of borders. While some universities asked the students to defer their courses, many were also quick to adapt their curriculum to online platforms. The preparations of students going to universities abroad looked a little different, too, during the pandemic. Quantitative tests like the GRE and TOEFL, which are required tests for many universities, used technology to allow students to take them from the safety of their homes. However, while the interview process for the admissions remains unchanged for the most part, there is a need for change. Amid the pandemic, technology has been cleverly employed by businesses like Xtraview to aid students in polishing their communication skills for their interviews by providing an accurate simulation of the actual interviews, as well as a platform for students to share their recorded interviews with universities.
All in all, it is a brilliant idea to marry education and technology to make learning more accessible and varied for the learners of the world. One can only hope that it is a continually evolving, lasting affair.