Back to School: Education in the Evolving Digital Age
August 25, 2021 • April Davis (PointClear Solutions)
4 Min Read
Most of us could not have predicted how “going digital” would be so much of our everyday reality as it is today, even just a year and a half ago.
We recently explored how technology has provided a new healthcare experience for many from telehealth to remote patient monitoring to other virtual health offerings. But beyond our most important asset, our health, how is another imperative component of our life, the lifelong pursuit of learning and ongoing education been affected and/or enhanced by technology?
Want to see a few examples?
A New Way of Learning
The pandemic triggered students of all ages from preschools to grade schools to medical schools to professional conferences to stay home and experience their education online. Not many of us were left unscathed by a change in our or our family’s knowledge consumption. As the mom of a preschooler, wife of a spouse working for a medical school, and having a personal marketing career with an emphasis of in-person knowledge-sharing events, the changes of the pandemic did and continues to change our perspective of what is possible with technology.
Meeting Students Where They Are
While many institutions have been offering some form of online education for years, the majority were not prepared or equipped to provide widespread digital learning. However, the comradery and drive of how educators, administrators, businesses and technology providers worked together to ensure that learning did not stop just because our normal world seemed to is nothing short of commendable.
- Preschool teachers and leaders banned together and created digital resources and video conferencing capabilities with everything from Google classrooms to FaceTime to continue to move forward with the littlest of learners.
- Grade and high schools found a way to try to provide personal devices and accessible internet so all students in a household had a chance to learn online with their teacher and classmates.
- Universities moved to a virtual environment where students could learn from professors in more online classes, while also connecting and collaborating with their classmates in apps such as GroupMe.
- Medical schools suddenly had to pivot to a less hands on approach for teaching, especially subjects such as anatomy. They adapted quickly to provide a virtual way to supplement lecturing and hands-on learning, with much smaller to one-on-one groups for in-person patient interactions and training.
- Professional conferences and tradeshows experimented with digital booths and more of a webinar type education for CE credits. While many adults also took advantage of more time at home by turning to online certifications and even LinkedIn Learning to continue to expand their skills and career1.
Seeing the Bright Side
While there certainly have been challenges with moving suddenly to online education across the board, where would we have been 30 years ago when we did not have the technological advances of today? How fortunate we are to live a world where the possibility to go remote and digital was an option at all. Many have the opportunity to continue learning where they wouldn’t have in the past without access to widespread wireless internet services, personal devices, video conferencing, AR/VR, robotics and other online learning capabilities. While many including myself long for the days of in-person, mask free classrooms and crowded tradeshow floors exchanging ideas, how fortunate we are to live in day in age where virtual learning is a viable option. If we didn’t realize it before, technology has the power to transform diverse aspects of education from ease of access to information and classes to how teachers communicate with students to how medical students learn surgery techniques. All of which affect our everyday lives and our future.
While going back to school this year might still look different than what we hoped for, it is comforting to know that institutions are much more equipped to keep students learning in-person safely, provide innovative options to expand knowledge sharing opportunities and be ready to go virtual if schools must temporarily close in-person classes again.
Technology is and will continue to be prominent in learning environments from digital chalkboards and video tutorials in lower schools to online classes and collaborative digital classrooms in universities to virtual reality and interactive tools in medical and graduate schools.
Medical students are able to use telementoring, a seemingly type of telehealth, where students can virtually learn from live surgeries across the country2. An option that might not have seemed as urgent to offer before the pandemic but one that can help students learn from and view unique conditions and cases that they may not have been able to otherwise. Additionally, a recent study revealed that over 70% of respondents including students, teachers and administrators, want to continue to take some online courses in the future3.
From remote learning again to the expressed desire for a hybrid approach going forward, digital learning and the technology to support it is here to stay in one capacity or another.
To all the students, teachers, administrators and supportive family of those out there, we applaud your diligence and determination to not let anything hinder your pursuit of learning.
Do you have a vision to create, improve or expand digital learning technology or enhanced healthcare education tools in your business offerings?
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