The pandemic has resulted in widespread disruption of in-person instruction, leading to concern about learning loss, especially among our most vulnerable students. While there is still much uncertainty about the long-term effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on students’ academic achievement, we do know that technology can play a pivotal role in mitigating learning loss and supporting catch-up for students who have been affected.
One way technology can help address learning loss is by providing direct instruction to students with gaps in their understanding of core concepts. Several instructional technologies can be used for this purpose, including online tutoring programs, adaptive learning platforms, and digital Worksheets. For example, DreamBox Learning is an adaptive math program that provides PreK-8 students with individualized instruction based on their needs and abilities. By engaging students in personalized learning experiences, DreamBox can accelerate student growth by an average of 2-3 months per school year.
In addition to providing direct instruction, technology can also support educators in differentiating instruction and better meeting the needs of all learners. Differentiated instruction is an approach to teaching in which educators adapt their instructional materials and methods to meet the needs of individual students. Technology can be used to support differentiation in many ways, including providing real-time data on student progress, offering a variety of content options (e.g., texts, videos, articles), and enabling educators to create custom assignments and assessments. For example, the LearnZillion Differentiation Hub is a resource for educators that provides a range of differentiation strategies and tools, many of which utilize technology.
Parents are wary of educational technology for good reasons. The massive move to online teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic relied heavily on educational technology. According to Carissa Gray, founder of Instructional Technology Coaching, educational technology needs to be implemented with forethought and planning. Shoving education online in a panic was necessary during the emergency, but now the crisis has passed.
Blended learning is a combination of in-person and online learning. This type of learning helps to keep all students engaged. When students are engaged, they learn more effectively. Technology also helps teachers streamline their work (i.e. less time filling out forms) so that they do the job they signed up for: teaching.
Technology plays a vital role in education and has the potential to support catch-up for students who have been affected by Covid-related disruptions to their schooling. By providing direct instruction and differentiated supports, technology can help close learning gaps and ensure that all students have access to a high-quality education.