While the education sector is slowly adapting to online learning, challenges prevent both the educators and the learners from reaping its rewards. This is among the latest findings in the joint study of technology firms Lenovo and Microsoft.
One of the reasons discovered during the course of the survey is not the lack of tools but the low adoption of these available solutions. Another reason is going through the social challenges (distraction, social isolation) stemming from extended periods of remote learning.
Tapping the services of YouGov and Terrapin, the Lenovo and Microsoft study was conducted across 12 markets in the Asia Pacific (APAC) in May 2021 involving 3,400 students, parents, and educators.
“This study has helped us better understand how educators, parents, and students have adapted to online learning during the pandemic, what the real challenges are, and what solutions can be deployed to help make learning technologies more effective,” said Michael Ngan, president and general manager, Lenovo Philippines.
According to the student respondents accessibility (63%) and flexibility (50%) are just a few of the major advantages of online learning. It somehow democratizes access to a broad variety of content globally. On the other hand, 64% of educators believe that making teaching materials online and accessible easily somehow helped them in navigating this new way of teaching. From the people surveyed, 50% commend the fact that e-learning encourages collaborative learning, and allows for more personalized learning and support.
“The role of technology has become a much-needed lifeline in enabling teaching and learning between students and educators today,” said Larry Nelson, regional general manager, Education, Microsoft Asia. “Despite the challenges faced over the last year, we admire the resilience and adaptability students and educators have had as classrooms shifted from traditional set-ups to virtual environments.”
The study finds that students and their parents said it was “extremely important” that their technology provides security (50%), privacy (52%), flexible performance (26%), and continuous value (29%). Just 17% considered it to be extremely important to have the lowest possible cost for a technology solution.
Educators were also interested in education-specific security (75%) and data privacy (79%), but additionally named collaboration features (64%), student assessment tools (63%), general ease of use (59%), and accessibility features (53%) as extremely important.
However, although 72% of students used a laptop and 29% used a tablet to access online learning, few had embraced the full suite of learning solutions: just 38% of students used video conference apps such as Microsoft Teams, only 20% used cloud-based document sharing, and 14% used remote access files. Around 15% of students had access to an online learning management system.
Almost 95% of educators used a laptop for their daily teaching. While 76% had used video conference apps, only 56% used cloud-based document sharing, and just 36% used remote access files. Around 66% used an online learning management system. Additionally, 34% had used a virtual reality platform.
Another concern that surfaced during the survey is the technical support of devices and solutions. The survey found that insufficient support from the schools’ IT staff was solved by alternative sources students and educators were able to source. Students were more likely (33%) to ask a classmate, friend, or younger household member for help than they were to go to school tech support staff (15%). Similarly, 47% of educators addressed their concerns to the school tech support team, but 32% simply tried to find an answer themselves, 31% asked another teacher, and at least 11% consulted with a nearby teenager.
“What we see from this study is that there can be enormous benefits from education technologies, but students and educators have yet to embrace its full potential,” continued Amar Babu, president, Lenovo Asia Pacific. “Both students and educators are looking for collaborative, personalized learning – using technologies that can keep them engaged, with the material and with each other. Lenovo is at the forefront of these technologies, with built-in features leveraging Artificial Intelligence, helping create opportunities for online engagement, and providing convenience and reliability.”