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Remote education - Overview

Friday, August 7, 2020 / No Comments


The Problem With Remote Education

Faced with an unanticipated lockdown, the only tool many schools could use readily was something like Zoom, which turned out to be woefully unsecure even though it was impressively easy to use. Another issue with Zoom is that it was never designed to be an education solution -- it merely allows one person to talk remotely with many others.

That undoubtedly is part of the problem. To keep kids focused and interested in remote lessons, it's critical to have tools that go beyond ordinary communications to help teachers ensure better student attention and performance.

The problems with remote schooling are similar to those associated with working from home, with a few exceptions. Students usually aren't as mature, and most lack the attention span of an adult. They don't have their careers to or income to worry about, so they tend to be less focused, in general, on accomplishing their tasks.

With a solution like Zoom, which is just a communications tool, it's likely that the lessons won't work, because the students aren't engaged. The level of acting out in the classroom will make it virtually impossible to hold class, let alone instill any knowledge.

Tech companies sell to schools, but they typically don't create focused educational tools. Generally, they sell PCs that are priced lower for the market but are specified by the school itself, and there isn't much engagement beyond that.

Lack of engagement makes it difficult for those companies to offer effective help when a school has to pivot to remote operations, because their answers typically will be to buy new Windows PCs, Chromebooks or iPads. While these tools are critical to remote learning, they fall well short of what a solution should be.

Lack of engagement speaks to why so many schools, after trying to operate remotely, gave up. Their programs weren't working.

Lack of engagement likely impacted sales to the education market as well. Lenovo came up with the idea of buying a company -- LanSchool, created by teachers for teachers -- and selling its product to schools to increase engagement. Lenovo realized that while technology was becoming more prevalent in schools, the OEMs weren't advancing as quickly in understanding the changes affecting education and weren't positioning effectively.

Approaches to education have changed a great deal in recent years. Teachers' responsibilities have shifted from teaching core STEM to helping students develop life skills like critical thinking, collaboration and digital literacy. (Schools also are teaching kids to use technology -- which means that older folks typically will rely more on younger ones to help them get their tech to work.)

Lenovo also knows from market data that schools were moving to the cloud to reduce costs and improve security. They already knew that schools were using Chromebooks heavily in K-12 (16 percent penetration) but that purchasing was problematic. When many schools recently tried to buy PCs at once, they found they were unable to.