As the COVID-19 pandemic kickstarts an economic downturn, the U.S research group the Brooking Institute predicts that education will be one of the hardest hit sectors.
Social isolation measures have crippled schools and universities, forcing them to temporarily close and continue lessons via online learning platforms.
According to UNESCO, 91% of the student population is currently affected by worldwide closures in 188 different countries, meaning over 1.5 million pupils are relying on online learning for their education.
Luckily, ed tech platforms are helping with the transition to remote learning.
Using these ed tech platforms, teachers can simulate face to face learning experiences. Meanwhile, other e-learning tools are enabling them to organize their schedules, set work for their classes and carry out interactive learning activities.
For this reason, we’ve taken a look at our favorite 5 e-learning platforms to see how they’re contributing to combating the effects of COVID-19 on education.
Moodle is an open-source learning management system that stands for “Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment.” It provides schools with one integrated platform to create a personalized learning environment.
Claiming to be the most-used e-learning platform in the world, Moodle has pledged to offer its premium app plan for free throughout the month of April, in order to minimize class disruption during the current school closures.
Besides the standard interface available for staff and students, Moodle also offers cloud-hosted solutions for learning environments, which the platform is promoting during the coronavirus pandemic.
Moodle Cloud enables teachers to build their own online teaching platforms, choosing from available activities, resources and collaborative tools for students, whose progress can be tracked by setting up assessments.
UK-based virtual learning platform Firefly claims that existing ed tech platforms are limiting, rigid and fragmented because they are “not built for modern learning.”
Used in over 40 countries worldwide, Firefly allows teachers to give lessons and set homework which pupils can then collaborate on and then submit for feedback.
Initially, the e-learning platform experienced problems when school closures were first implemented to control the spread of COVID-19 due to “unprecedented levels of traffic” which caused it to crash.
Now, however, Firefly’s offering free access to schools affected by closures until the end of the upcoming school semester.
During this time of distance learning, Firefly is also placing special emphasis on the services it offers for parents to monitor their child’s progress, as well as school leaders. This way, teachers can provide continuity to their students’ learning and communicate with them effectively.
Class Dojo is an ed tech app for primary school students, teachers and families that aims to create a positive learning culture. On Class Dojo’s platform, students are given an avatar which can gain points for good contributions, allowing them to share positive learning moments with their parents.
The platform encourages students to share their progress in the classroom through photos and videos which they can use to build up their digital portfolios or send to family members. It also provides resources for teachers, such as pre-prepared presentations and training sessions.
Now that the classroom is at home for both pupils and teachers, Class Dojo is focusing on building a sense of community in order to support the remote learning experience, encouraging families, students and teachers to keep in contact as much as possible.
Class Dojo encourages students to share photos and videos of read-alouds, daily schedules, physical challenges and other daily activities from home to make remote learning feel productive and normal.
Blackboard’s virtual open-source learning management system is widely used by universities across the world.
Professors can set up content pages, upload learning resources and stream lectures to students. For students, they can use the platform to access all the material they need, as well as submit their work and find out their grades.
Branding itself as “education’s partner in change,” the platform strives to deliver solutions for learner engagement, academic effectiveness and education insight.
To assist with the transition to remote learning, the platform has launched a new self-service portal through which departments can order Blackboard Collaborate, a paid virtual classroom and web conferencing service.
Furthering its contribution to e-learning during COVID-19, Blackboard is also offering 30-minute webinars and online courses for teachers and professors for free. Additionally, the platform has data analytics resources to help teachers manage pupils’ engagement with distance learning.
Social networking service and cloud-based virtual learning environment Schoology provides the resources teachers require to manage online classrooms in over 60,000 schools in over 80 countries.
Schoology offers in excess of 200 e-learning tools, student education systems and education platforms to support teaching, learning, grading, pupil collaboration, attendance and assessment.
To accomodate for recent school closures, the e-learning platform is allowing 12th grade school and higher education institutions to increase their license count for free via a series of flexible programs.
As well as Schoology’s free basic package, it is also offering ‘self-service’ access to its premium service, Schoology Enterprise, with billing delayed until June 30 of this year.
Finally, the platform has put together a ‘readiness kit’ for distance learning, which includes best practices and educational resources for both teachers and students.
Although the education sector is being hit hard by the effects of COVID-19, the ed tech industry has been its saving grace during uncertain times.
By enabling classes to continue, e-learning platforms have helped maintain a level of normality for schools across the world. The discounts and free packages they are offering have also allowed as many as possible access to the technology, regardless of their financial situation. The benefits of some positive ed tech PR for these e-learning platforms are there for all to see, and will surely earn them glowing praise and attention from ed tech industry influencers.
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