OPINION

How the pandemic has changed education

How the pandemic has changed education

In more than 30 years working in education, I have worked with children from kindergarten to year 6 and understand the inner workings of the education system, especially when it comes to mathematics.

Last year, COVID-19 pushed us into a fast-moving digital reform, which saw many unprecedented changes in the education sector.

Mathematics is a crucial pillar in the STEM discipline.

While children are used to communicating and working online to some degree, full-time remote learning can be challenging for teachers (and parents) to fully support students in subjects like maths.

While the move to online learning was recognised as a fun change for some students, many needs were not being met.

And despite the brilliant work from teachers (and once again, parents) throughout the year, lack of access to technology in some homes highlighted issues of equity for students.

Plus, the depth of learning was dependent upon the quality of resources being used.

Schools are free to choose their own online resources and, being such hectic places, often years can pass without a thorough review being undertaken.

Change can feel overwhelming in a busy school, so many keep using the same digital resources each year, despite the ever-growing and changing landscape in the digital education space.

Another factor has been that NAPLAN testing was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Schools and teachers had to reinvent new ways to monitor children's academic development.

Sadly, schools often then chose digital resources that simply "tested" students, rather than inspire and engage.

During the more-recent lockdowns and move back to remote learning, there has been a shift.

Schools discovered last year the far-reaching benefits that a high-quality digital resource can achieve.

As a result, we have seen many teachers and schools turn to online maths learning platforms that build a strong foundation for numeracy and keeps students engaged.

Our resource allows each student's individual needs to be catered for with a personalised learning path, enabling children to work independently and from a remote space.

This kind of learning has been monumental for teachers during a time of inconsistency and disruption, especially as the program allows them to steadily track each pupil's independent progress, one of the biggest challenges of remote learning.

Teachers are also realising that a digital resource should not stand alone and simply be used as a "click and forget" babysitter.

With high-quality resources such as Matific, which uses the latest interactive technology, it is easy to link hands-on and written work with what the students are doing online.

The activities beautifully replicate real-world mathematical objects such as rulers, balance scales, protractors etc, making it easy for students to make those connections.

I'm pleased we're starting to see a new age of education through blended learning, which is in my opinion, the best way to ensure our education system remains as steady as possible.

Typically, teachers write their programs and plan lessons in advance, so the uncertainty of school closures and the fluctuations between in-class and remote learning has become extremely stressful.

Digital resources are no longer an additional tool to aid the learning process but instead are an instrumental part of it.

It's a relief for teachers that in the event of any future lockdowns, a child's education can continue seamlessly if the right online resource has been implemented.

Jacky Herman is regional manager of Matific.

This story How the pandemic has changed education first appeared on The Canberra Times.