As teachers exhale and hopefully get some well-deserved R&R, we thought it was time to reflect on some of the changes coming out of the COVID-19 experience. Sometimes out of chaos comes positive change, here are five ways we think schools will have changed for the better:
- Remote learning may be here to stay. Not 100 percent for all students, but as an option for those who learn better in that environment, as well as to ensure the continuity of learning when there are natural disasters or other reasons that physically getting to school isn’t possible. In a study by the RAND Corporation, “Remote Learning Is Here to Stay,” about two in 10 districts have already adopted, plan to adopt, or are considering adopting virtual school as part of their district portfolio after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 1:1 learning may FINALLY become a reality. Did you know the first 1:1 programs began 25 years ago? We’ve talked a lot about 1:1 and BYOD since then, but movement towards making it a reality in most districts has been slow. Some districts that were hybrid even bought students two devices—one for home and one for school. As of December 2020, MDR Data Selects showed that nearly 9,000 of U.S. districts—a little over 50 percent—had 1:1 programs. It will be interesting to see how that number has grown by the end of this year. However, districts will have to plan for future maintenance and replacements to sustain that learning environment long after the federal relief funds that have helped fund their purchases are long gone.
- Spotlight on digital equity. With the switch to remote learning, the lack of broadband access in both urban and rural communities became a national news story. According to the Census Bureau’s Week 29 Household Pulse Survey (April 28 to May 10, 2021) 18 percent of households with children in public or private school did not always have internet available for remote learning. With the current debate over whether broadband is infrastructure, digital equity is now part of the national conversation with the hopes that more access is on the way for families living in the digital divide.
- Renewed emphasis on the benefits of frequent district communication with parents. The Council on School Networking’s “2021 EdTech Leadership Survey Report” found that during COVID-19 districts have upped their game communicating with families. Two-thirds (63 percent) have increased their frequency of communication, and more than half have broadened the number of outreach channels. Parents have likely become accustomed to more contact with their child’s school and teachers and administrators may see increased value from connecting more often as well.
- Greater parent appreciation of teachers. Speaking of parents—the events of the past year may have given parents a heightened appreciation for teachers and the value of school. A May 2021 Harris Poll found that 82 percent of parents have a greater appreciation for teachers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s hope that trend continues in the 2021-2022 school year.
These five trends likely only scratch the surface of the lasting—and hopefully positive—changes that we will see in education as a result of COVID-19. To sustain these changes, districts will need to partner with education companies who provide the products, services, and resources to maintain and grow them. At MDR, we stand ready to help you develop back-to-school sales and marketing campaigns to share the ways that you can help.