Back to school with blended learning?

Aurel Constantin 24/09/2021 | 17:13

It’s back to school for the class of 2021/22 and after a year like no other, when education systems around the world were thoroughly stress tested – there’s an air of optimism. Learning has transformed from rigid classroom-based activities to a blend of on and offline environments. Fast-tracked in response to pandemic needs, the digital transformation of the classroom keeps students inspired, teachers empowered and parents supported. But this is only the beginning.

An opinion by Dell technologies

Education authorities, school leaders, teachers and parents have worked tirelessly to uphold the continuity of education and ensure that the prospects, dreams and ambitions of every student were not interrupted in the last 18 months. The experience immediately highlighted a digital divide between those with access to devices, digital tools and connectivity, and those without. This defined accessibility to continuous education in the last year, putting the spotlight on the urgent need for strategic technological investments to sustain education in the long-term, for everyone.

The progress made was fast, furious and collaborative as the private and public sectors came together to prioritise ongoing and accessible education for all. This year as the UK government sets out its plan of action for 2021/22, innovation, technology and data is a key area of focus and a strategic enabler of the Department of Education’s goals. It highlights education as a driving force to help unleash Britain’s potential and rebuild after COVID-19.  It highlights the need to reform and invest in the education system and skills to deal with the impact of the pandemic.

A lot is riding on the transformation of the education sector – not least the aspirations of students and teachers who have already had their digital skills put to the test. While a permanent return to school is a priority for all, blended learning supports a more resilient education system, enabling the increased personalisation of learning while enhancing accessibility. As IT leaders look to reinforce the transformational progress made so far, facilitating longer-term benefits and underpinning a digital environment fit for the zettabyte era flexibility, scalability and agility is key – and this doesn’t just apply to the technologies.

Creating flexible financial options for educational organisations will be key to underpinning future transformations. Schools are not businesses and require an enhanced focus on financial support, to alleviate the burden of tight budgets. As-a-service procurement models empower education leaders to prioritise digital progress, enabling IT departments to break-free from the constraints of rigid vendor service agreements that can prevent them from adapting to providing essential digital tools in a timely manner.

Ultimately, this frees educational organisations up to move from a strict ‘CapEx’ model to an agile ‘OpEx’ approach, through which they can make decisions that are always focused on long-term learning outcomes and not restricted by immediate cost limitations. With this level of visibility and control, it’s possible to cut complexity and unwanted surprises and guarantee sustainable value from technology investments.

PC-as-a-service (PCaaS) is one example of how this approach can liberate teachers. Their struggle to balance time and resources brings with it a need for simple and effective ways to manage equipment and fully support all users whether at school or at home. This year, with schools implementing remote learning solutions via online platforms, the ability to teach and learn from anywhere was never more crucial. To this end PCaaS has offered a modern way for schools to use technology inside and outside the classroom throughout the pandemic. Addressing budgetary restrictions by freeing them from the costs and staff needs associated with more traditional ownership models, this approach augments educators’ abilities to deliver seamless education experiences – come what may.

With innovative new services designed to simplify digital transformations, enabling a wider and more equitable roll-out of connected tools and resources for learners near and far – there is plenty to be optimistic about. Looking ahead, there is much tweaking and revamping to be done to build upon the progress already made and maintain the momentum of digital learning transformation.

As students step out onto their campuses this September, they come armed with new digital skills and competencies that will prove vital as they transition into the workforce. With the technological evolutions gaining pace, it is fair to view the last year as the kick-start to a new way of learning. With a better sense of direction heading into the zettabyte era, learners, educators and local governments can head with greater confidence and certainty into the new term.

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Aurel Constantin | 27/11/2023 | 17:41
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