The COVID-19 pandemic that has affected the world’s economies has also stifled the education industry. Approximately 1.5 billion students, or about 90% of the world’s primary and secondary school students, are physically unable to attend school.
The effect has been revolutionary, as educators expect technology solutions to support remote education and learning. However, digital transformation in the educational sector is not limited to online education and learning.
Although some educational institutions have used technological solutions over the past few years, the importance of digital transformation in the educational environment has become an urgent matter in most schools and universities during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Governments in several countries are trying to mitigate the immediate effects of the lock down and promote continuous education for all.
Many schools offer remote learning experience to students, although some of them are planning to return to the modern standard and with new technological solutions.
What is educational digital transformation?
Digital transformation involves improving a company’s core processes to effectively meet customer expectations by leveraging data and technology.
In the education sector, students, faculty, staff and graduates can be the target consumers. Furthermore, both students and teachers can benefit from digital transformation in schools.
Digital transformation to improve the student experience can include:
- Allowing students to interact through a mobile app or website that in turn serves as a recruitment tool for new students.
- Offering a wide range of data analytics options for teachers.
- Use technology to track student progress and apply intervention protocols.
- Facilitating the organization of online classes.
Transformation of teaching and learning methods
Initially, educational institutions adopted technologies such as Zoom and Google Meet for videoconferencing to stream classes. However, nowadays, organizations can integrate their website with these resources and establish a seamless digital classroom experience that integrates the use of different technologies.
Augmented and virtual reality is growing widely in education. Augmented reality is a simulation of a 3D environment that people can interact with using VR glasses or headsets.
These technologies bring subjects such as history, geography or biology to life. For example, the Cleveland University clinic organized trainings in anatomy and surgery using AR-based 3D human modeling at Case Western Reserve University.
Educators will help children retain subjects through a great learning strategy. Gamified learning is very common in education and is slowly spreading in vocational training and exam sectors.
Digital exam portals
Universities also face challenges in assessment and grading. Students often struggle to pass exams. Institutions should incorporate webcams in their online exam portals to prevent fraudulent practices. It will help them monitor suspicious activities such as opening tabs, using background chats, sharing images, etc., while taking the exam.
Web portal for recruiting new students
Every educational institution should consider its website as the main engine for attracting new students. Beyond offering an omnichannel educational service, institutions need to focus their recruitment efforts on promoting and attracting potential customers.
Initiatives such as paid campaigns and content generation are key to attracting high-quality traffic. However, it is very important to consider that the design should be focusing on attracting new users, as must be very different from the internal web portal with which customers interact. These two interfaces should be different because they have completely different objectives. Yet, we have to always maintain the consistency and values of our brand.
Benefits of digital transformation in the education sector
Tracking student results
One of the effects of digital transformation in the education industry is that it provides a more realistic way to monitor student progress and success. By recording information about students’ work, technology can play an important role in enabling teachers and parents to track their progress. For example, textbooks or creative work can be compared at intervals with material that is already digitally recorded, leading to a clearer understanding of who is improving and who needs additional attention.
Improving results with data analytics
Schools can use analytics to monitor and improve their results. Students can better understand what individual children and schools need by reviewing information gained from the use of technology in the instructional classroom. The more clearly we can understand how a student has missed a term, the easier it will be to run the course. Technology will help us diagnose these deficiencies much more easily and reliably than teachers could in a classroom of 30+ students.
Digital learning enforces collaboration. Teachers can create and manage groups through learning platforms. Co-authored work and presentations are facilitated by collaborative creative environments such as Google Docs, Twiddla, Edmodo, etc. These types of interactive tools are already in use in organizations, and why shouldn’t student teachers be proficient before they officially join the workforce?
Schools must teach the curriculum of the future. Robots, artificial intelligence, automation: these are no longer science fiction movies. Overwhelming evidence suggests that workforce needs are changing and will continue to expand greatly in the future. However, the schools are not prepared to fully educate them. It will not take years to create and apply curricular changes. Students have more access to appropriate and frequently updated content. The ability to update and function quickly requires daily access to new materials and functionalities.
Improved parent-teacher synergy
Research indicates that children perform better in school and are overall much healthier when parents are involved in their academic success. Automation electronically provides progress notes and reports to parents, alerting them to pay custodial fees in a timely manner.
In addition, they can have peace of mind about their children’s safety because if they are absent or on vacation, the children are informed and the school bus route can be tracked from any location. Imagine if the software provided an efficient career guidance solution recommending career options based on calculated metrics based on the student’s strengths and weaknesses.
Digitization is a huge time saver in today’s world, where time is money. In addition to metro services, many cities have not fully integrated transportation infrastructure. To meet their educational institutions, students have to travel for hours.
In this scenario, digital training is a rescue for students in the most remote parts of the country/city. This model has been successfully applied beyond international borders by UNISA and GetSmarter. It is enough to log on to a website or resort to satellite TV to learn a subject instead of spending long hours on the road.
The challenges of digital transformation in the education sector
Reluctant to change
In fact, almost 70% of public sector employees believe that their digital skills lag behind those in the private sector. Despite this, several key policymakers reject the next big steps towards digital maturity.
In essence, people prefer to become familiar with what they do and refuse to step out of their comfort zone. this leads to slow growth and development. Many people working in the education industry fear failure and are hesitant to learn new skills or processes if they are based on a new technology, culture or mindset.
Inferior knowledge or skills.
An appropriate level of confidence, knowledge and skills is important to drive innovation in the organization. Currently, UK employers are facing a growing digital skills gap to fill 43% of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) vacancies.
Educational institutions must either compete to reach a small talent pool, or pursue new approaches to upgrade emerging players in the UX and CX sectors through cloud infrastructure. All this to ensure a smooth and efficient digital conversion.
In this digitally rich age, numerous metrics provide insights from schools, universities and trainers about future students, internal efficiencies, user experiences and much more. In short, this is an immense level of detail.
The problem is that this data is soft, sometimes inaccurate and unreliable, especially in the education sector. Education decision makers need to make informed forecasts, make integrated business decisions and take new steps to understand the most useful and informative data. This will help them to receive smooth, fast, accurate and structured data.
Lack of direction or strategy
One of the main obstacles to progress is knowing where to proceed with digital transformation in any sector or industry. Since the vision of a massive change can be overwhelming, it can be difficult to understand which path to take or how to build a solid strategy.
In today’s world, most businesses and organizations rely on technology-driven systems and infrastructure, ensuring smooth and successful operations every day.
One of the main problems of digital transformation in education systems is the lack of compatibility with modern digital technologies for their advancement. This incompatibility means that a current integration system must be upgraded, customized or replaced, which inevitably requires time and resources.
By digitizing the learning experience, both students and teachers can enhance their abilities to create an active educational process. Digital transformation in the education sector can be applied in many aspects, such as new student recruitment, online learning, student assessments, personalized learning experiences and examinations.