By Christopher Bradman, General Manager & VP Sales APAC, Instructure
After nearly three years of implementing distance learning due to the pandemic, higher education institutions in the Philippines are set to return to in-person and full face-to-face classes beginning the second semester of the current academic year. While this is a step forward, it also brings challenges for institutions and educators as they prepare to impart education in the classroom to students that are coming back with a new mindset.
The shift to remote learning has exposed millions of students to an intensive integration of technology into their courses, and this has likely reset their expectations for the future. According to the global study, 2022 State of Student Success and Engagement in Higher Education from education technology firm Instructure, maker of Canvas learning management system (LMS), 70% of students surveyed in the Asia Pacific are significantly more likely to want more technology used in in-person courses, and 87% of students surveyed in the Philippines want more technology integrated into their in-person classes.
As we move beyond the pandemic and look to the future of education, it is crucial that institutions do not simply return to the pre-pandemic in-person classroom but rather take this opportunity to re-examine and improve upon the way they deliver classroom instruction in-person — a classroom that meets student's demands for accessibility and flexibility, and more importantly, the potential for technology such as LMS to enhance their learning experience.
As institutions, educators, and students prepare to head back to school, there are three ways LMS technology, such as Canvas, can ensure high-impact in-person learning in the post-pandemic classroom:
Better Accessibility and Flexibility
Improving accessibility is one of the most effective ways to increase student engagement in the face-to-face learning environment. In a world where students have access to gadgets like smartphones, tablets, and laptops, students tend to be excited or motivated if they have learning materials that fit their unique needs, such as amplified audio or sound, closed captions, access to screen-readers, or translation supports.
For example, closed captions can help students seated in the back of the room understand the lesson if they are far away from the speakers. Translated materials can also help multilingual learners in the class.
Institutions that are working with an LMS like Canvas can make it easier to differentiate learning paths, even in an in-person classroom. Students gain autonomy to access instructional content on their own, whether they need to go back or move ahead in their learning.
For instance, a student who stayed up late to help support their family may find it helpful to have access to the video transcript and the option to rewatch the video through the LMS if they are feeling tired and need to process the content at their own pace. Likewise, if a student gets sick and cannot attend class, they can revisit the lessons of the day through the LMS mobile app and catch up when they get back. If in-person classrooms allow students to easily access materials from anywhere with technology, whether they are simply absent or need to transition to remote learning for any reason, such as disruptions caused by weather, social unrest or natural disasters, then no student will get left behind.
Providing Voice and Choice
In addition to designing accessible materials, educators can also bring new strategies and teaching practices into the classroom through an LMS, providing flexible choices to students to help them understand their approach to learning and achieve their academic goals.
Of course, students need guidance and direction. For instance,, why limit the barrier to requiring the whole class to write an essay about Philippine literature, when some students may be able to create fantastic video projects that demonstrate this learning goal? Through Canvas, students can record their video or audio assignments or submit their paperwork in the system and pull them out later for a more engaging discussion.
They can complete assignments in class using Google or Microsoft tools, as well as use emojis and buttons for a visual representation for students who can’t read and ask them to follow along with the lesson. They can also create deeper dialogues by posting their thoughts on the platform. This gives students who may be too shy to speak up in class a voice or a place to display their work proudly. It encourages students to demonstrate their knowledge in several ways, like typing their answers, taking a picture, or uploading a video.
An in-person classroom with this kind of platform gives opportunities for students to explore their interests, define who they are, and navigate their lives.
By integrating technology in the in-person classroom, students are given the power to use whatever tools they choose to act upon their desire. The experience is personal, and because it is personal, they are empowered by their passion to learn more, do more, and take action.
In the same manner, educators are motivated to take charge of their own teaching style and be creative in developing a more dynamic, flexible, and personalized learning experience for their students.
An LMS platform offers features that allow educators to manage multiple classrooms through a personalized dashboard, schedule assignments, and evaluate student performance. It also offers a content management tool that enables them to create and publish their own materials, offer variety and keep students engaged by connecting to popular interactive instructional content.
With intuitive features and hundreds of integrations, using an LMS like Canvas as a centralized hub for learning means all online learning tools are connected in one location and virtualy connect teachers and students as well. Teachers can focus on creating engagement and motivation during instruction, and students focus on learning the content, not the technology.
In March 2020, higher education faced one of the greatest crises it’s ever encountered. In the months following, institutions and educators responded swiftly. Harnessing digital tools and resources has become the way to improve course delivery long term and match the evolving needs of the students and educators.
As we look toward a post-pandemic future, the lessons of the past year should propel us forward. Higher education institutions should not regress but instead leverage the lessons and innovations of the past year by continuing the use of technology as a consistent foundation for in-person learning.