As countries emerge from the pandemic, approaches to learning have continued to vary across UK schools, with the bulk of institutions settling with a hybrid or ‘blended’ model. As it suggests, this model involves technology being embedded or blended into lesson structure alongside more traditional teaching. This breaks the ‘one size fits all’ model by giving students the chance to learn independently, freeing up more time for discussions, and supporting different styles of learning. Blended learning is not simply about replacing a day in school with a day at home, but rather the thoughtful application of technology inside and outside the classroom to make teaching far more engaging.
A staggering 96% of teachers report that technology has a positive impact on the way children participate and learn. In addition, more than three-quarters of students agree that, despite the prelevance of post Covid technology, in-person teaching is still important. Reverting to the traditional classroom-only approach would be wasting the momentum that has picked up over the past two years, and as such we are in a prime position to interrogate whether we are currently optimising the use of technology in classrooms to provide better learning outcomes for students. Using these lessons, we must examine what the long-term blended learning model should look like and how we can best leverage technology to ensure the classroom of the future is inclusive for everyone.
Heeding the Lessons Learned
Education has always been a conduit to prosperity and opportunity. It is therefore critical that, as our approach to teaching evolves and becomes more digital, its value and accessibility improves, rather than diminishes. Research has shown that online learning is effective only if students have reliable access to the internet and computers, and if teachers have received adequate training and support. The truth of this sentiment was clear in a global survey of teachers in high-poverty schools who found virtual classes to be ineffective during the pandemic, rating them 3.5 out of 10. With blended learning, teachers report higher levels of engagement and an overall increase in motivation.
While the onset of COVID-19 demanded fast, if imperfect, solutions, the point we’re at today demands the opposite. Leaders in education, technology, public policy and more must be diligent as they collaborate to architect and standardise thoughtful tools and systems that will define the next era of education.
Delivering Innovative, Intuitive, Collaborative Solutions
Technology aimed at improving the student learning experience was a growing area of interest long before the pandemic; however, the effects of Covid-19 lockdowns have accelerated innovations in this space. Establishing better access to PCs and other basic technology, be it at home or in school, is just the first step. The next is to re-think how technology can support revamping learning models. An example of technology that could be more frequently deployed in secondary education is augmented and virtual reality. AR and VR can mimic real-life practices and can help build business and IT skills around entrepreneurship, for example a history trip through time or a trip to NASA’s HQ.
The technology industry must deliver on these needs with innovative offerings, and schools must be able to creatively deploy them. Fortunately, we’re already seeing that in action. Teachers across the country have adapted to blended learning models and there is significant uptake of educators using software and learning management programmes for a range of practices. This includes efficiently monitoring student performance, reaching different types of learners and allowing students to take control of their own learning. A successful blended learning model is not only about the software we use – educators require intuitive devices, upskilling and IT-as-a-service to support them. Students also need reliable, intuitive PCs and Wi-Fi access, as well as a blend of digital and physical tools to optimise their audio and visual experience and keep them engaged while developing their soft and hard skills.
Empowering People Everywhere Through Education
The past two years has offered a glimpse of a hybrid education model that, with continued improvement, provides families with more flexibility, students with invaluable skills and communities with a path towards greater prosperity. Simply, we cannot return to educational models that emerged during the Industrial Revolution – they simply aren’t built for the 21st century. The challenge before us, to purposefully disrupt global education paradigms, is one that will pay off in immeasurable ways. HP recently committed to enabling better learning outcomes for 100 million people by 2025 and accelerating digital equity for 150 million people by 2030. Our motivation is simple: education and equity help people thrive.
The pandemic has definitively proved that there is more than one way to learn, and that the best-quality education leverages a tailored approach. Technological innovations have so far proved their worth in supporting better learning outcomes, and as such educators should continue to invest in tech’s latest motions, to enhance and empower their students in the classroom of the future.