Commentary: Using technology not only to teach students, but also to reduce educators’ time and workload

The Ministry of Education recently announced that from October 2022, the monthly salaries of more than 37,000 teachers and other education workers in Singapore will increase by 5% to 10%.

Many see this as a cause for celebration as educators grapple with heavy workloads and increasing stress levels.

A major contributor in recent years has been the sudden shift to blended learning when the pandemic hit, forcing educators to adapt and change their teaching methods.

Today, hybrid shifts are no longer temporary. With Singapore adopting a blended learning model, educators now need to provide students with a consistent learning experience in both online and offline environments.

What is non-negotiable in this new form of teaching is the adoption of digital solutions, not just turning on the machines.

In leveraging digital media, educators are faced with many additional responsibilities that they did not previously have to manage—from reconfiguring and adjusting offline lessons for virtual classrooms to even monitoring students’ online health.

Much has been said about the benefits of blended learning for recipients, but less so about the implications for educators.

reduce workload

When it comes to online learning courses, we now know that moving content in bulk doesn’t work.

Research conducted by Intelligence Business Research Services (IBRS) found that content should be adapted into small modules that can be rearranged and inserted appropriately throughout the curriculum.

This can be a laborious process.

Thankfully, digital solutions have shortened the time for this tedious process by enabling educators to share content online for peer review or collaborate on the same digital whiteboard.

Employing the right digital solutions can also help educators better manage the expectations of students and their parents.

While this is nothing new, communication can be made more difficult when the norms of digital lifestyles flood in.

Students utilize the same social conventions they use when chatting with friends online and expect immediate, near real-time responses—even late at night.

The same IBRS study found that institutions across the region struggled to balance educators’ time with these expectations.

Employing a variety of digital solutions that support time-shifted learning can help educators set boundaries that protect time.

For example, this might look like a mix of email and e-portal messages for asynchronous communication, and group video sessions for synchronous instruction.

Ultimately, the technology stack deployed by institutions needs to meet one goal: to solve the fundamental challenge of educators working long hours and high workloads.

Digitization is the first step in helping schools rethink traditional ways of working. But what really drives the results is the ability to streamline and consolidate workflows into one centralized platform.

Imagine the time saved if educators could update student attendance, collaborate on lesson plans, market assessments, and even hold virtual conversations with parents all in one place.

professional development

Another often overlooked aspect is the professional development of educators.

There is a long-standing tension between equipping educators with the digital tools they need and taking the time to learn how to use them.

However, it is critical that educators have the skill sets needed to teach effectively — more than ever in today’s hybrid environment.

Just as students adapt to home learning (HBL), technology can facilitate learning for educators.

The same IBRS report revealed that while many educators in the Asia Pacific region are experiencing remote professional development for the first time during the pandemic, they appreciate the flexibility and convenience of learning at their own time and pace.

Furthermore, technologies that are now indispensable in the classroom can also be used by educators to improve and further develop their daily teaching programs.

For example, built-in analytics tools on the digital platform for HBL can easily count the number of students logged into a course or show how much time is spent on a particular slide.

This can help educators identify areas for improvement by sending difficult signals to students.

Professional development doesn’t always have to take the form of lectures or seminars.

Rather than being viewed as a “before class” or “after class” activity, hands-on learning integrated into daily teaching saves time and is just as effective.

In a blended learning environment, it may be tempting for educators to view digital solutions as functional tools for delivering information to students.

But to truly unlock the value of blended learning models, educators should shift their mindset to consider the lessons to be learned not just for students but for their professional development.

About the author:

Ricky Kapur is the Asia Pacific head of video communication platform Zoom.

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