At Engineers of Tomorrow we work with a lot of schools. In fact, our volunteers in the Engineer-in-Residence program cover over 35 school boards in Ontario.
We’ve seen some major changes to the educational experience for students, educators and parents as a result of COVID.
Artur Meyster is the CTO of Career Karma (YC W19), an online marketplace that matches career switchers with coding bootcamps. He is also the host of the Breaking Into Startups podcast (you know we love a good podcast!), which features people with non-traditional backgrounds who broke into tech.
Today Artur is sharing his insights into how COVID is a catalyst for change in the education system.
COVID-19 lit a fire for educators to innovate faster and bring technological advancements to the education industry. All of the technology being used by educators was available to them before the pandemic. The rapid change in environment and safety protocols wasn’t enough to deter teachers and students from their educational pursuits. Their persistence to continue learning is helping transform the education industry.
The education industry has always rested on its laurels and stuck to what works. New tools are frequently seen as resources rather than ways to completely rethink how we approach education. The change of perspective caused by COVID-19 will push education in the right direction. The new obstacles increase diverse and out-of-the-box thinking by the leaders in the education industry.
Testing Will Show More Learning
Rote memorization and factual recall used to be at the core of testing a student’s understanding. Google reduces the need to remember dates of expeditions, wars, and influential legislation accessible to everyone. The ability to find information at the ready decreases the need for fact-based multiple-choice tests.
Online tests are pretty much open book tests. Yes, there are software programs that limit or detect cheating, but students will always find ways to access information through alternative means. Switching to open book tests will allow instructors to focus on understanding concepts rather than remembering dates. Students in higher degree levels need to apply the concepts they learn in class; simply understanding financial theories isn’t enough to graduate with a master’s degree. You need to use the theory in real-life scenarios.
As testing improves, students will show they can apply theories that will increase the returns of their educational investments.
Communication Will Improve
One of the reasons students pursue higher levels of education is to prepare themselves for the workforce. At the end of the day, education is the best way to increase the outcome of your career. That said, your education should prepare you for the professional world.
The workplace is facing many of the same problems the education industry is currently facing. Proper communication is a skill that most employers seek out but isn’t always emphasized in the classroom. A problem before COVID-19 is that students relied on face to face contact for communication with their teachers. Now, since school is mostly virtual, students are experiencing more ways to communicate online, which will mimic their experiences in the workforce.
Schools Are More Flexible
Educators are dedicated to teaching students and providing them with tools to grow. Prior to the pandemic, students and teachers relied too heavily on meeting people in person. When COVID-19 caused schools to go online, they transitioned rather quickly to an online format. There were hiccups, but for most classrooms, learning continued with little impediment on the quality of the instruction.
Educational institutions used the abrupt switch to make online interactions a common experience. Office hours can happen virtually. Students can share their documents and get feedback instantly from their instructor via comments on the article itself. This isn’t any different than a physical version of turning in a paper and receiving feedback. The best online colleges are integrating new technologies to make their course more accessible and meet more students’ needs.
Remote Learning Increases Access To Quality Instruction
Prior to COVID-19, learning was relevant to your immediate location. Most students travel to schools within their communities. Unfortunately, local schools don’t always offer the highest quality education. Now that online learning is normalized, students will be more comfortable attending schools remotely. This change will give ambitious students the ability to attend the best schools in a wider region. Potentially, they could go to school anywhere in the world.
This is an even bigger opportunity for undergraduates hoping to obtain their bachelor’s degree. Not only will online learning give them access to the best schools, but it will also let them save money by staying at home.
Location and economic status are frequently the largest inhibitors standing in the way of students reaching their full potential. The massive acceptance of online teaching wouldn’t have happened so quickly had it not been for COVID-19.
Changes Will Keep Coming
We aren’t out of the COVID-19 crisis yet. Schools of all levels are struggling to decide the best options that balance safety and learning. COVID-19 pushed the education industry to try things it was too afraid to implement at a wide scale. Innovations will happen quicker since the industry is more accepting of change.
Engineers of Tomorrow is a nationally incorporated not-for-profit organization. Our vision is that one day every Canadian – regardless of gender, ethnicity, orientation, religion, ability or thinking style – understands the power of engineering to unlock and shape positive societal change.
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