The global pandemic has reshaped many aspects of the educational landscape. How can K-12 learning professionals and school administrators rise to these new challenges, while still dealing with the ones they faced before the COVID outbreak? This epic guide shows you how to overcome 8 common obstacles with the right academic eLearning solutions, from tight budgets to low student engagement. You’ll also discover how online learning can help stretch available resources and increase remote engagement while minimizing safety risks, as well as steps to implement a sound eLearning strategy. Without further ado, let’s dive into the many benefits learning technologies can bring to K-12 educators, parents, and students. You can also download the exclusive eBook for bonus tips to choose the best tech tools for your school.
What You’ll Find Inside This Guide…
How eLearning Helps Overcome K-12 Education Challenges Cost-Effectively
Every school district has unique challenges based on location, demographics, funding, and other factors. However, many issues are shared across the board, such as safety concerns and low student participation. Here are a few notable K-12 education challenges that eLearning can help you overcome, regardless of class sizes or current gaps.
1. Challenge #1: Limited Resources
Every school deals with resource restrictions. Maybe you’re understaffed or simply don’t have room in the budget or additional supplies. This directly impacts the educational experience, but it also raises stress levels for staffers. For example, a teacher must stretch themselves thin to accommodate more learners. Limited resources can even have a ripple effect on parents, given that they contribute more of their time or funds to pick up the slack.
Online education allows you to allocate resources more effectively and maximize state funding. Teachers can host large-scale events, such as virtual classrooms. Anyone with a PC, laptop, or mobile device can participate in remote learning sessions. Some organizations even implement a BYOD strategy for blended learning. For example, students are encouraged to access online learning resources that supplement face-to-face classroom activities. Here are just a few ideas to use eLearning to cut costs without compromising a quality education:
- Convert legacy content into online support tools. For instance, PowerPoint presentations become interactive tutorials for high school students.
- Provide remote access to digital textbooks and guides versus printed training materials.
- Invite students to submit their own content based on their areas of expertise or personal experience (i.e., task walkthroughs or skill-building demos).
While implementing eLearning does require an investment, it can help you reduce spending in the long run. As an example, you may have to purchase authoring tools or an LMS to deploy online education initiatives. However, teachers no longer have to spend hours grading assessments, since the system automatically scores tests based on the grading rubric. Along those same lines, you don’t have to pay for in-class supplies if you launch a virtual learning environment.
2. Challenge #2: Safety Risks (COVID Crisis)
One of the most significant K-12 education challenges today is the COVID-19 crisis. Educators have been forced to adapt to the new normal and social distancing has added even more hurdles to the learning path. For instance, desks must be spaced at least 2 meters apart and everyone is required to wear face masks. Daily school routines now consist of applying hand sanitizer and temperature checks. As a result, many schools have made the switch to online and/or blended learning initiatives.
Online learning gives educators the opportunity to improve collaboration among their students without putting them at risk. Students are able to learn from the comfort (and containment) of their own homes. Furthermore, they still have the chance to get peer feedback, work on group projects, and attend live events—if you choose the right tech tools; for example, an LMS with social learning support that also includes video conferencing tools. Here are some tips to help ease them into the new normal from an educational perspective:
- Provide students and parents with bite-sized tutorials on how to use the new eLearning platform.
- Create a microlearning support library that allows them to go at their own pace.
- Host frequent coaching/mentoring sessions for those who need one-on-one guidance.
- Offer support resources that help students acclimate to a post-pandemic world and prep them for new educational guidelines (i.e., maintaining social distance).
The key is to stress the importance of active participation and show them how to maximize the tools at their disposal. For this reason, many schools launch informal marketing initiatives to raise awareness and help students master new technologies; for instance, tutorials that walk them through the login process or virtual tours of the eLearning library.
3. Challenge #3: Low K-12 Student Engagement
Students may not be fully engaged in the classroom because of external distractions or peer influences. Some of them even contend with learning disabilities that make it more difficult to comprehend the subject matter, which hinders participation. Yet another factor to consider is lack of motivation, in general. They simply don’t see the point of attending classes or getting involved in group discussions because everything is “theoretical.” After all, how much of the information are they really going to use in the real world?
One of the standout perks of eLearning is practical application. Simulations and branching scenarios are prime examples of learning activities that put skills and knowledge into action. Thus, students are able to see how participation leads to real-world benefits. Furthermore, online learning helps individualize the experience and fosters remote immersion. Students can pick and choose materials that resonate with them and their specific needs. These eLearning initiatives can help you maximize learner engagement:
- eLearning gamification rewards that recognize milestones, such as completing a certification path
- Group projects that encourage students to share their experiences and evaluate different perspectives
- Learner-generated content libraries that give them the chance to create their own content and gather feedback
- Webinars and workshops with Q&As and guest speakers who provide unique insights
Best of all, eLearning is more discreet. For example, learners with dyslexia can utilize audio resources to fill in the gaps, but they still have the chance to reach out to mentors and teachers directly for more personalized support. In the traditional classroom, they might not pursue other learning avenues for fear of being judged or ridiculed by their peers.
4. Challenge #4: Lack Of Personalization
It’s nearly impossible to deliver an individualized learning plan for every student in traditional classroom settings. Everyone has their unique goals, preferences, learning styles, and limitations. Even if you have smaller class sizes (which we’ll cover later in this guide), educators cannot provide each and every student with one-on-one support as often as they need it. Another drawback is that the resources, themselves, aren’t personalized. While some students might gravitate toward kinesthetic activities, others learn more effectively through reading-based assignments. The same goes for assessment methods.
Many organizations make the switch to eLearning for the sole purpose of individualization. Students can set their own schedules, aside from synchronous activities, and the library is always there for on-the-spot education. For example, there are serious games, checklists, and video walkthroughs that help them build vital skills or perform tasks. They have the ability to access the course catalog based on their personal interests and goals. Below are just a few ideas you can incorporate into your learner-centered program:
- Course maps that allow students to choose the order of activities and navigate through every checkpoint when it’s most convenient for them
- Pre-assessments that produce personalized recommendation lists, such as the top 5 activities they should check out based on their knowledge gaps
- Learning paths that are structured around their hobbies, educational interests, and experience levels
Bear in mind that personalization isn’t just about resources or going at their own p