The pandemic threw some challenges into harsh light across the country, particularly in education. As students and educators across the country moved to a virtual model--and had to figure out how to handle the challenges that came along with it--many found themselves scrambling to cope. However, we learned three key lessons from the pandemic that shape the way we should handle education in the future, including how to manage connection, familiarity, and preparation.
Now, more than ever, we've learned the importance of preparing the umbrella before it rains: that is, having a solution in place that can help schools maintain educational processes and keep students involved regardless of what might get in the way. Is your school prepared for the next potential storm?
Lesson #1: Connection Matters
When it comes to education, connection matters--perhaps even more than educators could have imagined in the beginning. Learning cannot take place in a vacuum. Students need access to one another, to their teachers, and to the resources they need to expand their learning and connect more effectively with the material.
Student to Student Connection
Positive peer relationships can have an incredible impact on students' academic performance. Students need to feel as though they are connected to one another: that their contributions to the group matter, and that they are part of something larger than themselves. Students with strong peer relationships often have better overall academic performance and are better able to handle stress when it comes their way.
During the pandemic, it became clearer than ever that peer-to-peer relationships were incredibly important for both academic and social development. Many students, as they went virtual for school, had less interaction with their peers. Depression rates increased, not only in adults but in children as well. Children often need the support of peers and adult mentors to help them bounce back from emotional upheaval.
With a platform like Pronto, even when students cannot meet face to face, they have options that make it easier for them to connect with one another. Instead of getting stuck in a cycle of loneliness, they're able to message one another, engage in video chats, and collaborate on projects, just like they would in the classroom.
Student to Instructor Connections
Students who feel emotionally connected to their instructors are often better able to develop socially--not to mention improving their ability and likelihood of asking questions. Connecting with students is challenging enough for a classroom instructor who could see dozens or hundreds of students for the day. Connecting with students virtually, on the other hand, can prove even more challenging.
Pronto helps bridge that gap. With Pronto, instructors can connect with students anywhere, at any time. Students can message in with questions and receive quick answers. The availability of video messages also means that students can feel more overall connected to their professors and instructors, which can help them feel more confident in the classroom.
Students to Resources
Your institution likely has several resources that it makes available to students in the effort to help them achieve overall academic success. You may have tutors, counseling opportunities, and a host of other physical and mental health resources that can help students, particularly during difficult times like the pandemic. Unfortunately, many students do not realize that those resources exist, or may not know how to access them. Pronto helps put those connections in students' hands, providing them with more information about the resources available and how to take advantage of them. Furthermore, in some cases, Pronto can help connect students to those vital resources directly, including virtual mental health services or virtual tutoring options.
Lesson #2: The Importance of Familiarity
Nostalgia, familiar relationships, and, of course, familiar processes: during the pandemic, many people realized rather abruptly just how important those things really are. Brands played on the importance of familiarity, utilizing taglines and campaigns from the past to help them continue to connect to their customers. In the classroom, teachers tried their best to use some of the same educational processes they'd used before the pandemic, from games to testing strategies.
Familiarity matters. Students test best when exposed to familiar stimuli. Researchers have known for years that using a familiar stimulus during testing—chewing the same type of gum while taking the test that you did while studying, for example—can make a huge difference in student performance.
Unfortunately, during the pandemic, many students lost access to most of the familiar things they had relied on in the past. They were taken out of their classrooms and away from their peers. Often, they had to adapt to an entirely new style of learning.
Pronto helps bridge that gap and bring the familiar back to the classroom. Pronto is familiar to users, with an intuitive design that is very similar to other platforms that students might already be using for other purposes. Furthermore, it offers instant adoption strategies that make it easier for students to pick it up quickly as they adapt to a new learning style.
Pronto's ease of use makes it ideal both in situations like the pandemic, when no one could predict what would come next, and the everyday classroom environment. Since you cannot know what will come next for your students, having the right tools already on hand can prove critical to their ultimate success.
Lesson #3: Preparation Matters
You can't prepare for every potential disaster before it happens. In 2019, for example, no one could have imagined the challenges that would come to the educational field in the next year. Likewise, it's impossible to predict the future.
Will schools have to shut down again? Will students have other challenges that take them out of the classroom? What about individual students who might have personal challenges, like illness, that could prevent them from coming to school?
Preparation can make all the difference. Most businesses have continuity plans: clear plans that help establish how the business will continue running if a disaster strikes. Business continuity plans usually include contingencies for things like data loss as well as the loss of the physical office environment. Making sure that the umbrella is ready before it rains--that it has no holes and can realistically cover the person's entire body--means that when a storm does come, the person is prepared. Likewise, an educational continuity plan can help set your school up for success.
What will you do if schools shut down again? How will you handle it if a student has a learning challenge that keeps them out of the classroom? Prior preparation can make a huge difference in your school's ability to respond to those challenges--and Pronto can help pave the way.
Preparing for Endemic Covid
Many experts now agree that the pandemic is unlikely to come to an end with the eradication of Covid-19. Instead, they suggest, it will become endemic: an illness that circulates periodically through the area, but that poses no more challenge to your school than the seasonal flu.
Of course, endemic illness can pose enough challenges to the student population of your school. Many schools have to shut down each year to manage rising flu cases, especially during years of high transmission. Those shutdowns, while not as disruptive to overall education as the shift made during the pandemic, can lead to learning loss, delays in educational processes, and a host of other challenges.
How will your school adapt to the potential endemic nature of Covid-19?
Pronto is here to help. With Pronto, you can keep students and teachers connected even through periods of illness. If students do have to quarantine due to exposure in the future, they can continue to learn from that environment. When they have to be out for some time due to illness, Pronto can provide them with the resources they need to check back in.
Adapting to Future Challenges
As an educator, you understand the challenges your students can face as they address the challenges that come their way each year. Political upheaval, climate problems, and even personal difficulties can all make it more difficult for students to focus on their education. They may struggle to attend classes every day, have trouble finding adequate time to take care of homework, or simply struggle to connect effectively with teachers and peers alike.
Pronto helps bridge much of that gap. With Pronto already in use across your campus, you can prepare students for many of the challenges that they may face, keeping them connected to one another and you even during difficult periods. While students may still miss out on some learning opportunities, you can prevent those missed opportunities from becoming catastrophic.
Managing the challenges of the pandemic has proved challenging for many educators and their students. Nevertheless, educators continue to think on their feet and adapt to those key challenges--and Pronto is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about how Pronto can help address some of the next challenges your students may face.