How Educational Institutions Leverage Tech for a Sense of Community

Online classes became the norm during the pandemic. Since traditional classes put students and educators at greater risk of getting the virus, educational institutions catering to all levels decided to put a hold on face-to-face classes. Remote learning quickly became the new normal. While this helped curb the spread of the virus and keep students and educators safe, one can’t deny that today’s new style of learning has its cons.

Remote Learning: the Good and the Bad

Remote or distance learning offers a fair share of perks to students and their educators. For one, it provides the kind of flexibility that traditional education can’t provide. It also helps build independence among students who often lean on their teachers or professors for basically everything.

Traditional classroom settings can be distracting and stressful to some students. Some who are introverts find it easier to learn their lessons when their focus is mainly on the educator alone. Even if one has classmates learning with them through remote learning, they still have a safer place to learn at the comforts of their own homes.

One should not forget that students learn at their own pace. Those who like to get ahead can scan the lessons ahead of time and make the most out of their spare time. For those who need to catch up on sleep, they can learn during their most productive hours.

Students also tend to develop their problem-solving kids in remote classes. They have to figure out things on their own since most educators won’t be available immediately to answer their inquiries. This can help in building their self-esteem.

But like all great things, remote learning has its potential drawbacks. Some of these are as follows.

  • Technical problems keep students from attending classes and doing their school works.
  • Some distance/remote learning doesn’t offer much flexibility.
  • Some students find it hard to cope with forced independence.
  • It can be easy to fall behind.
  • There are certain distractions present at home that can make it challenging to learn proactively.
  • There is less communication and collaboration among students, teachers, and other learners.

Using Tech to Break Communication Barriers in Remote Learning

Different tech innovations aim to improve communication and collaboration. The problem starts when people utilize such technology to the point where they try to minimize interactions and only focus on virtual collaborations. Since there is no teaching and learning face-to-face, students and educators can feel more isolated than ever.

Humans are, by nature, social beings. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, one of our basic needs is love and belonging. If we don’t feel like we belong in our group, it becomes difficult to stay happy, healthy, and sane. The same goes when one can’t feel enough connection with their teachers and have no time or means to communicate with their fellow learners.

Thankfully, there are ways one can take advantage of technology and bridge the communication gap. For one, educational institutions now make use of their websites and other tools to build a better sense of community among their learners and educators. A community website helps drive engagement among members while giving everyone a safe, secure, and trusted environment for communication and collaboration.

Educational institutions also invest in different tools to allow students to message their teachers and raise their questions or concerns. Teachers can then talk to their students privately and attend to their needs whenever they can. Giving students the chance to communicate with their teachers in private can boost their confidence and aid in their remote learning.

Learners also use different messaging apps and social media platforms to connect with their friends and classmates outside their virtual classroom. This greatly helps them keep communication and collaboration active, especially when navigating group activities and projects. They can also use such platforms to build a stronger relationship past the learner-to-learner line.

Educators also encourage their learners to interact safely and virtually outside the classroom to support their students embracing socialization. Socializing in real-life may not yet be the best to enjoy that feeling of love and belonging. But with the help of tech, this can help curb feelings of loneliness and isolation among students during these trying times.

Tech can be a great tool in promoting socialization during this pandemic. Even as the world slowly starts going back to normal, we can still utilize tech innovations to foster a better sense of community inside and outside the virtual classroom. The key is to find a good balance between nurturing virtual and real-life relationships.

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“Right now, computers make our lives easier. They do work for us in fractions of a second that would take us hours. […] As things progress, they’ll be doing more and more for us.”
Steve Jobs
co-founder of Apple Inc. and founder of NeXT
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