a male student attending an online class with female teacher

Educational Technology Trends to Look for in 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has been overwhelming for the entire world. With massive lockdowns and businesses forced to close, the world witnessed a standstill in the year 2020. Covid-19 started in December 2019 but quickly spread worldwide, creating a sense of panic for world governments and economies. One of the most significant impacts of Covid-19 was on the educational sector, as campuses around the world were closed due to social distancing protocols and kept the students protected against Covid-19. Global institutions have a significant curriculum to cover over a limited period, which is why an alternative to on-campus education was placed into effect as soon as people realized that Covid-19 would take longer to combat. 

Without a vaccine or a reliable health management system in place, institutions worldwide adapted to online education as the primary mode of delivering educational services. Online studies are not an alien concept in our era. However, our current systems were not capable of such a massive volume of students attending online classes. Over 90% of all students were receiving education online during the Covid-19 lockdown period. The massive flux of student and education providers depending on online education delivery systems highlighted the need to address on-going concerns and overcome current challenges in education delivery. For this, new technologies such as Google Classroom and Zoom video conferencing software came into use more than ever. 

Previously, with a tiny population attending online studies, educational technology remained primitive with very little focus on enhancing capabilities and features. However, addressing and delivering educational services to millions of students worldwide is a different ball game altogether, which is why tech firms quickly invested in reforming and introducing better ways to manage and deliver education online. Therefore, educational technology evolved rapidly during 2020. 

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The educational sector is a highly lucrative business opportunity for investors, as it is one of the world’s biggest industries. With millions of students globally, addressing the large-scale needs of institutions was imperative to sustain the industry and earn profits. Any educational institution that intends to survive and thrive in the modern era needs to invest in educational technology, which supports offline and online education to stay on par with industry standards. Covid-19 has pushed the world for better online preparedness and relies on the Internet for even the basic requirements. Here are a few educational trends to look for in 2021:

School Management Systems

One of the most significant disadvantages of online education previously was the lack of connection with the school or university. Students would feel isolated and alienated due to a lack of engagement. Since most students were offered pre-recorded sessions and lectures, it was difficult to feel a human connection with the professors. The process was quite monotonous and gave students less control over their education management. The outdated version of online education relied on completing assignments on due dates. However, the surge in online education demanded a more robust and reliable education management system to facilitate real-time tutoring and education delivery. Due to lack of time and resources, pre-recording sessions were not an option for universities and schools worldwide. Therefore, real-time systems were imperative to continue delivering high-quality education without obstacles. 

Another facet of outdated online tutoring was the lack of communication between parents and teachers. Parents are investors or funders that pay for their children’s education. However, they also expect returns and information about their child’s progress. Prevalent online education systems were incapable of handling such large volumes of students and communicating with parents. This is where Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems came into place. With the help of ERP systems, managing thousands of students on a single platform was possible and convenient. With various features and benefits, engaging the students and parents was achievable. Here are some of the features and benefits of educational ERP systems:

Live Attendance and Reporting

Attendance and roll taking is a hectic task but essential nonetheless. Teachers and professors need to keep a count of the students that attend their classes, which plays a vital role in delivering educational services. ERP systems allow taking live roll counts with real-time updates. Thanks to cloud computing, student attendance records are now easily accessible, offering a comprehensive view of their presence and classroom participation. This feature is one of the most critical aspects of student management. 

Behavioral Management

Managing and recording students’ behavior is a necessary feat to determine and evaluate their personality and understand external intervention needs. Students with poor behavior need active monitoring and guidance to motivate them towards studies. It is also critical to remain updated with their behavioral aspects to intervene during early stages, and to avoid challenges later. School management software allows teachers to maintain a log of their students’ behavioral aspects and retrieve information instantly using cloud-based systems. This allows the institution to determine and evaluate the right amount of counseling and mentoring needed for corrective actions. 

Grade Monitoring

Recording and distributing grades is a lengthy procedure, which can make it tedious for teachers. However, online systems make grade recording, monitoring, and reporting an efficient process. The latest educational technology systems allow teachers to grade their students online, which is recorded into their database. This data is then compiled and reported automatically, reducing the burden on teachers. This feature also allows institutions to prepare online grade reports with the click of a button. 

Managing Courses and Materials

ERP systems make it relatively easier for educational institutions to manage courses and study materials online. Due to cloud-computing and student portals, the cost of printing books and other educational material can be converted into a paperless transaction. Students can access their course materials digitally without needing a hard copy. This not only saves time but also makes study material available on the go for easier access. 

Communicating with Students 

Online student portals have allowed institutions to communicate with their students on a personal level without investing additional efforts. Student portals were prevalent in society, but modern systems allow various other features such as applying for leaves, selecting courses, acquiring student data, conducting surveys, etc.  

Communicating with Parents

One of the most significant advantages of a student management system is communicating with parents directly and more frequently. Compared to conventional schools and colleges, online portals can send out news, reports and make other announcements to guardians and parents without any hassle. Similarly, parents can contact teachers and professors more frequently to stay updated with their child’s progress. Parents can play a vital role in mentoring their kids and improving their behavior. Therefore, engaging the parents helps in improving discipline as well as the overall grades of the student.

Student Proctoring Software

With a lot of focus on online education delivery, educational technology had to evolve beyond management software. Being unable to conduct exams in closed rooms only meant that online exams would be conducted. However, that holds a significant risk, as students can easily use assistance and guidance from other sources without being invigilated. Therefore, creating online invigilation systems was imperative to promote a fair marking system for all students. That is where online proctoring systems came into the scenario. 

This artificial intelligence (AI) enabled software has proven remarkable in promoting fair play during exams and discourages questionable methods used by students during examinations. The AI-based proctoring system monitors students via web camera and looks for suspicious movements. These features are highly advanced and prove better results compared to invigilating students in person. 

Since online proctoring software records each instance of suspicious activity, teachers and school administration can review students’ flagged actions later to determine the type of activity. This feature has been the most appreciated option by teachers. However, students would undoubtedly feel watched by such software during examinations. Online proctoring software detects and highlights suspicious movements and discourages students from engaging in wrongful practices during exams. While some people argue that proctoring software invades the users’ privacy, it is still highly adaptable worldwide and almost all recognized, and reputed universities have resorted to proctoring software to lower malpractice and improve grade authenticity. 

The Takeaway

In conclusion, it is easy to identify that the online education sector has boomed immensely during the pandemic, and educational institutions worldwide have emphasized their online preparedness in case of urgent scenarios such as Covid-19. The educational technology trends in 2021 have been chiefly towards educational service delivery, school management, finance management, courses, and coursework management, communicating with students and parents to increase engagement and promote active participation. Therefore, educational technology trends must remain organized and connected to ensure optimum educational service delivery.

Guest Author:
Cigdem Fareed
Distinct Graphics & Software Solution

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