Online education and assessment isn’t only the new normal for students returning to school this fall semester. This acceleration to digital learning also disrupts traditional routines for many administrators and teachers who must now navigate new technology based solutions in their day-to-day. While it’s clear to education leaders that technology will not replace the human component crucial to learning and development for K12 students, it’s also critical that school faculty members are able to quickly adapt to new remote learning tools — a challenge that many schools are now confronting.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the mean age for teachers in the United States is 42 years old (where the median age is 41), and in many European countries, 50 or above. By no means, does this necessarily indicate that the average educator is not familiar with using new technologies being leveraged for remote learning. However, it’s important that educators of any age are able to quickly and effectively adopt these tools.
So how can we help ensure today’s teachers are equipped with the remote learning tools they need to empower online learning and assessment and effectively reach their students in today’s education landscape? From the technology systems to training resources, there are a number of important factors that play into the ease with which educators are able to successfully and quickly adopt these new eLearning solutions into their procedures.
System Usability and Accessibility are Key
When we think of usability and accessibility in software, we think of the end user. In education, our first thoughts are typically directed toward access and ease-of use for the students navigating the learning or assessment platform. However, it’s important to remember that educators are also using these technology systems. Your teachers may also have different accessibility requirements that need to be met in order to properly educate their students online. If the systems in place are difficult for educators to access and navigate, they are only creating roadblocks that disrupt teaching and working against your students.
Oftentimes, accessibility features are retrofitted into existing EdTech systems, leading to obstacles in access and usability for all users. But, when you choose EdTech and assessment tools that leverage WCAG accessibility as a native component, the benefits for usability extend far beyond the test itself. For educators leveraging online assessment technology, there are many accessibility factors your organization will want to consider when choosing a system, particularly in terms of complex authoring and delivery environments.
To help facilitate user adoption for teachers, the online assessment software you choose should have a logical and clean user interface. This can include aspects like structured headings, bolded important content and clear workflow navigation — from authoring to delivery. Many of the accessibility tools you’ll want your testing system to offer for students in your delivery environment, like color contrast or screen readers, should also be available for your teachers who are creating or administering the tests.
For a deep dive on student-accessibility, check out our recent post. Our post, The Importance of Usability for Creating and Taking Tests, also covers even more on making digital assessment accessible and usable to both students and educators.
The benefits of a Turn-Key Solution
Turn-key assessment systems and other EdTech solutions can often save institutions in time and resources when it comes to educator training. With features like WYSIWYG editing and intuitive, prepackaged authoring environments, educators can simply add their content into the system and go.
Provide Training Resources
What resources does your organization make available to educators leveraging new remote learning tools? Training videos and step-by-step onboarding instructions are crucial to helping educators get up to speed and effectively use the technology before students arrive online. Schools also need to be sure educators have the resources to be able to help their students get set up with the technology. Otherwise, time that should be spent on instruction will be wasted on technical troubleshooting.
Moocs as a Learning Tool to Support Teachers
Moocs offer freely accessible learning resources that have great potential to support teacher training and adoption of remote learning software. Known as massive open online courses, moocs have gained popularity as an alternative for traditional education and training models. Moocs are typically structured around video lessons, readings, forums and online assessments. Many educational institutions are already familiar with building Moocs. By providing these types of training resources for our teachers, we can help ease the transition so they can get up to speed quickly with these new technologies, without disrupting their teaching time.
The time educators spend on learning new technology systems is valuable — and more time struggling with challenges means less time teaching. Supporting educators with the right remote learning tools and training resources is the first step to providing a top-tier online education experience for students.