The world continues to change dramatically every few years with development. Only a decade ago, the idea of online education and development of skill-building on a wide scale would have been unthinkable in a practical school application. However, we’ve now engaged in a huge social experiment for two years with online education on a massive scale. While there is plenty of room for improvement, and everyone at different ages is practically burned out from too many online meetings and classes, the efficacy of online learning has been seriously proven. It’s not perfect, but online learning can be done.
What Exactly is Online Learning Today?
What is a webinar versus a web meeting? What are zoom classes? What is i-Ready and app learning versus a web portal? These questions and similar are commonplace as the entire distance learning and digital education field is a blizzard of tools Only a few core education programs have been available online for quite a while before. In fact, among the earliest, i-Ready itself was first created and released back in 2009 and was in full production by 2011. However, as many in education are aware, significant paradigm shifts in teaching take time. And that kind of change can be slow until there’s significant pressure to trigger faster change, such as a pandemic.
Lots of Choices At Different School Levels but Few Actually Teach
Blackboard and Canvas, as well as many other learning environments, have propagated quickly online as web portals, first through colleges and universities and then through high school and grade schools. App-directed programs, however, stuck to the traditional approach of software, delivering far more benefits than a web page destination. i-Ready, for example, was designed to help students develop core skills in math and science as well as help identify their strengths and needs so that both can be addressed with far more targeted. Who invented i-Ready?
Curriculum Associates this digital platform giving teachers a unique tool to both gauge students’ performance capability in detail as well as see where each student needed more attention. This improvement provided teachers with an insight that went beyond anecdotal gut feelings or point-in-time grade evaluations on tests or homework alone.
Various motivators came later, helping gamify learning and classroom content. That alone broke several barriers with children adapting to and becoming accomplished in tougher topics. However, the best learning apps were never intended to be a replacement for the classroom; they were supposed to augment classroom learning and boost the lessons kids typically are provided through lectures, books, diagrams, and examples.
The above said, products that allowed teachers to see performance as it happened provided a disruptive approach to traditional teaching. Kids became engaged in the class topics where they previously struggled. And, even more advantageous, teachers could easily identify the students that not only needed extra attention to specific topics, but also to what extent and on what lessons were being covered. The evaluative approach was a new diagnostic feature that functioned as students’ performance was tracked as kids made their way through the online lessons assigned.
Fast-Forward to Today
Today’s learning approach might look at the early tools and label them archaic, old, and an example of rudimentary online learning. However, as many teachers have realized with the massive amount of required online teaching that happened over the last two years due to a pandemic, the same digital learning tools have become invaluable in identifying how to deliver targeted school content to where it’s needed the most and with which student. And, no surprise, programs like i-Ready have continued to evolve along with the times, providing today far more relevant content and interactive experience than its initial platform a decade ago.
In another ten years, the methodology of class teaching may very well evolve again. There’s no question about it, thanks to the speed of technological development. However, the principles of online learning and evaluation that early training apps first combined will still be true and valuable going forward. It’s hard to beat a good teaching tool when it does the job right.