How to enable better learning ecosystems at home?

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By Sushmita Chatterjee
COVID 19 has seen real disruption in learning and has seen many online systems who have claimed to be an answer to replace face to face learning with online based system. My role as an immersive SaaS company CEO & CTO as well as a mother and parent of both college & school going children; online video solutions is not enough to enable remote learning.Most educators use various approaches with students which include game based techniques to other pedagogy methods and hence the systems must allow ways to develop and enable both teaching or non teaching based systems(Project based learning that use 4C skills which are critical thinking, communication, collaboration and being creative). In recent social media posts both educators and at home parents teaching their children have expressed frustrations in deploying instruction from home using available infrastructure like poor internet connection, managing their children and other responsibilities.This is compounded by managing stress & mental issues due to the extended lock-down.For senior college students who have lab work it has been a major impact as there is a lack of alternate resources which can provide the same experience like an advanced lab facility.
However this is the new order and how do we overcome these challenges?

Innovation – We need more companies who can provide better innovative solutions that address better learning outcomes that cater to various areas which include highly advanced labs to classroom/at-home learning solutions on various subjects. During major conferences I always see only a handful of educational vendors who are truly building solutions to improve outcomes compared to those building games or retail solutions.

Game based learning – There are various platforms that enable interactivity and can help students create solutions using games, 3D, blocks – we ourselves use a open source Mozilla hubs enabled platform service which help us customize our own SDG lessons, 360 videos, 3D models, 3rd party models from Google Poly & Sketchfab in a simple easy to use interface and allow reach to various socio-economic groups without a large overhead on costs.Most open source software are supported by donations and volunteering and hence as a company that uses both open source & commercial platforms – it is important choose tools based on use case not because that is the easiest solution.We as a company also feel obligated to support some of open source tools we use extensively due to effort that is required to created these tools.

Parents role – Parents like me are always wondering best path to keep the children engaged and also mindful.One of the best approach is to enable good balance between digital and non-digital activities like art, crafts, music or story writing. As a parent, I often do mini projects at home like theme based drawing & sketching with my pre-teen daughter who likes to draw and paint too and has converted her old CD’s to wall art. In spite of digital technologies use various at home activities help us use our mental & cognitive skills better.

Adaptive Learning or Problem Solving – Many parents or educators that I have interacted with feel that structured study plan discipline or process based learning is essential for every student. They feel that learning must be made adaptive to allow them achieve high scores in exams using a practice based method. Some asian companies have also enabled AI based system to allow non tutor based approaches to make students ace tests & exams without help of a instructor. We feel test taking & learning are very different. If knowledge gained cannot be applied to solve real life problem then students drifts grade by grade using memorization & rote and finally losing interest in a subject due to lack of engagement and only achieving grade based outcomes.

Visualization – Research has shown that most people learn better when explained something visually. As a visual learner myself, I feel less stressed and relaxed when technology use is based on a real use case than predictive assumptions. Personalizing the experience is also important as every learner has his own pace to learn. One of the famous anatomy publishers Netters is also based on Dr Netters famous collection of anatomy and “coloring books” which is assumed to be as equally an effective technique to learn anatomy for doctors like younger children.

Pain Points – The solution must look into pain points of the students. Many students whom I talk to have rejected textbooks to alternate digital mediums like videos, podcasts etc. Most students & educators need to grasp more in less time and hence any solution must also cater to better productivity with shorter attention spans.Any education solution that only looks into the perspective from a researcher or educator only is not effective as a learning tool.

Challenging times – We all know that we live in challenging times which we have never faced before and hence this extreme situation can elevate various mental anxiety, worries and financial stability beyond our own abilities to handle it.We must extend for help when situations get critically out of hand as we are social human beings and certain condition imposed like social distancing or wearing a mask may be frustrating but essential to save more human lives