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5 Key Challenges to Remote K-12 Education

Remote education might not be business as usual, but the future scientists, medical professionals and engineers of the world still need an education — no matter where it takes place. In-classroom education may be the model that most educators are used to, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only acceptable way to teach students. With the right preparation and tools, remote education can be just as effective.

When teaching remotely, educators need to be aware of 5 unique obstacles. In this article, we’ll cover these challenges and the steps educators can take to overcome them.

1. Keeping it Personal

Inside the classroom, it can already be difficult for educators to make a connection with their individual students, identify their unique strengths and weaknesses and deliver educational content that will maximize their development. Doing this through video conferencing, learning management systems (LMSs) and other educational technologies might not seem possible.

This isn’t necessarily the case. Too often, we focus on the problems associated with remote learning, rather than the opportunities it presents. Remote education does make it more challenging to foster that student-teacher relationship, but using technology can make it easier to measure student performance. Educators may need to get inventive in maintaining that personal touch over video conferencing software, but their EdTech tools can help identify the students that need it most.

For example, digital assessment technology can identify where students need help in a given subject matter and how far away they are from meeting benchmarks. With the right assessment technology and tools integrations, an educator can craft custom content targeting those students, ensuring they get to where they need to be.

2. Ensuring accessibility

Everyone deserves access to an education, but the realities of remote education can make it difficult to accommodate everyone’s needs. When implementing a digital assessment platform or other components of your EdTech stack, evaluate your solutions for key accessibility features. This could include:

  • Support for assistive technology, like screen readers
  • Consistent interface across the experience
  • Flexible options for navigation
  • Logical sections for headings and titles
  • Contrasting text and color use
  • Descriptive text with test items and visual elements

More generally, you can look for solutions that follow the IMS Guidelines for Developing Accessible Learning Applications. These standards were developed by IMS Global as a means of ensuring that all users could access and interact with digital content.

3. Providing Professional Development for New Tools

Educators are experts in education; not necessarily in technology. Any tool that you adopt in your district is only going to be as useful as educators’ ability to use it. That’s why it’s crucial that time is set aside to teach educators how to use any new tools meant to facilitate remote education. You can make this easier by selecting tools with an intuitive UI that simplifies the tasks teachers need to carry out during remote education, such as content authoring, rostering, assessment delivery and more.

4. Measuring Student Progress and Remote Proctoring

Assessing whether students are meeting educational standards is critical, but without an in-person proctor, ensuring the integrity of the assessment can be challenging. What’s more, each and every student’s computer and wireless configuration presents the possibility for technical difficulties. Overall, remote education can make it harder to determine whether a given assessment is being administered in a consistent manner.

Fortunately, remote proctoring tools address these issues. You’ll want to identify tools that include:

  1. Security features, such as the ability to prevent internet access, mobile device use, screen capture and sharing capabilities
  2. Comprehensive technical support to ensure that different students’ hardware runs the digital assessment as intended
  3. Advanced monitoring features, such as data analytics tools to determine assessment trends and artificial intelligence to fill in for a live, in-person proctor

5. Getting all of your Tools and Systems to Work Together

It’ll come as no surprise that educators are going to need more than a Zoom subscription to teach their students. Remote education requires a suite of technologies, including LMSs, digital assessment platforms, supporting tools and more. These systems need to work with one another, share data and — crucially — do so in a way that meets academic standards.

Fortunately, you can look for EdTech solutions that meet the IMS Global Standards, a set of frameworks established by the IMS Global Learning Consortium network. Briefly, these include:

  • The Learning Tool Interoperability standard, or LTI: The LTI standard ensures that any educational application can easily connect to your LMS.
  • The Question & Test Interoperability standard, or QTI: QTI defines the formats and protocols required to develop digital assessments, making it easier to measure student performance and support accessibility.
  • The Competencies and Academic Standards Exchange, or CASE: The CASE network contains data on academic standards, ensuring that your EdTech stack can easily compare student performance to benchmarks and pinpoint individual student needs.

For educators, students, parents and administrators, remote education is something new, and that can be pretty intimidating. But just because remote education is a new way of doing things doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice the quality of our students’ education. Remote education may pose some significant challenges, but the right technology can overcome those challenges and ensure that once students return to the classroom, they’re on track to meeting their educational goals.

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