Education Technology and the Home Learning Effect
How print companies are supporting edtech to enhance online learning
Digital working and learning have become staples since the outbreak of the pandemic two years ago. Patterns of working and learning evolved overnight, and digital technologies had to step in to facilitate these drastic changes. Those with children in education gained first-hand experience of what these technologies are capable of. For example, the Learning Management System—software that centralizes learning, reporting, and contact for remote education—enabled a continuity in education for most students worldwide. Now that students have largely returned to on-site learning, how can educational technology (edtech) support combine ways of learning in the future, and are print companies doing enough to support developments in online learning?
Enabling Continuity in Education
Having used a Learning Management System during 2020, I know just how much they contributed to the continuity of education during the lockdowns. From discussions with colleagues at the university where I research and study (and from my own personal experience), the conclusions are overall very positive. Thinking back, the online classes I participated in were well organized, effective, and transitioned well from in-person teaching to an online format. The week I couldn’t attend a class due to work commitments was not lost. I was able to access a recording of the session and use the resources to catch up—other students seem to agree. A recent study published in the Journal of Education and Practice concluded that “features” and “user-interface” are key elements for engaging students fully with the Learning Management System. Usefulness of the content available and how it’s presented were also big winners for students in retaining their interest in the system long-term.
A Few Drawbacks…
Of course, using a Learning Management System is not without drawbacks. The same study published in the Journal of Education and Practice also concluded that their empirical evidence pointed to a downturn in academic performance due to environmental, technological, and personal distractions related to home learning and the use of online resources. This is understandable, considering the gravity of the changes students and teachers undertook. But, combined with unreliable Internet connectivity and other factors—such as distractions from social media on personal devices used for online learning—the overall effect on academic performance cannot be ignored. Now that learning is predominantly moving back on-site, the findings present an opportunity to tweak and improve processes to ensure that learning using a Learning Management System is as positive as it can be, particularly for students at crucial stages of their education.
Supporting Online Learning
There can be no concern that digital technology in education will fully irradicate the usefulness of print any time soon. Keypoint Intelligence’s Future of the Office 2021 Survey reported an increase in print volumes at home, mostly due to school work. Several big players in the print industry offer devices and solutions that accommodate the digital requirements of the education sector. But how are they aiding the use of Learning Management Systems and furthering digital technology for learning?
HP, for example, offers a variety of solutions that enable connectivity to Learning Management Systems such as Blackboard and Canvas, helping to improve student and teacher workflow wherever the learning is taking place. They have also developed a wide range of products and solutions to aid on-site learning, such as HP SchoolPack. A suite of tools designed to help teachers manage device usage in the classroom, SchoolPack includes tools to aid various areas of the curriculum as well as make administering digital learning easier for teachers beyond the Learning Management System. Moving away from the Learning Management System sphere, HP is also developing a range of AI/VR products to aid visual learning through digital “field trips” and enhanced interactivity.
Like HP, Xerox is also leading the way in developing their digital education offering. Xerox’s ConnectKey enables connectivity to Learning Management Systems such as Moodle and Blackboard, enabling a seamless workflow from app to device. It also connects users to Remark Test Grading and a Proofreading service to further aid teachers in managing their workflow. However, it is in the realm of AI/VR that Xerox is making headway. CareAR—Xerox’s augmented reality platform—allows users to undertake instruction in a live virtual reality setting, helping to enhance interactivity and enable tailored learning to take place in remote environments.
Keypoint Intelligence Opinion
Learning Management Systems and digital learning are not going away, despite on-site learning resuming. Any why should they? The overall benefits of online learning over the last two years far outweigh the negatives, and $350 billion is expected to be invested in edtech by institutions by 2025. From the results of recent studies, we also know that print bolsters the effectiveness of online learning and that both mediums will no doubt help to create even more choice for teachers and students in the way they administer and retain knowledge. The efforts of print vendors to integrate their solutions with Learning Management Systems and other edtech options validates digital learning. It also further emphasises the need for all within the sector to keep innovating new ways to absorb knowledge in this rapidly changing time. Whilst the likes of HP and Xerox are leading the way in this collaboration, other big players need to do better in expanding the availability of software that integrates with existing digital learning infrastructure or poses a better long-term option. AI/VR seems to be the next big tech development for the education sector. Let’s see what it has to offer, and more importantly whether students and teachers see it as a long-term solution for enhancing on-site and remote learning.
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