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Education Trends Shaping the 2020/2021 Academic Year

Online Teaching
As the 2020/2021 academic year begins, education is facing unprecedented challenges. Ontario is in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic that is forcing school boards, private schools, Ontario teachers, and parents to make crucial decisions. It is important to protect both teacher and student health, while at the same time ensuring education continues to be delivered with minimal disruption. The effect of COVID-19 on education will ebb and flow with the rise and fall of the pandemic, but what is clear is the traditional face-to-face teaching model has to be augmented by online learning which is creating a number of opportunities to enhance the student learning experience.
 
Apex Academy Online has created a student-centric online learning environment that takes advantage of existing online learning trends, as well as providing teacher and guidance support when needed. Apex Academy Online works hard to keep abreast of what’s developing with online learning and continually enhances its courses to integrate features that will be of benefit to students.

The education trends that are emerging for the 2020/2021 academic year are:

Changing Role of the Teacher

When better technology is incorporated into the classroom, it gives access to a more integrated approach to learning. Teachers can access a variety of media to create an integrated learning experience for students by using e-books, audio-visual content, and online assessment. The role of the teacher will start to shift from content creator to content assembler bringing together a variety of different elements to make the material more accessible and engaging for students.

Professional development programs and training will be developed for teachers through school boards and professional associations such as the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) to help familiarize them with the skills and competencies necessary to deliver course content using digital technologies.

Online Teaching

Online teaching will become a valuable tool to help students maintain educational continuity when COVID-19 restrictions limit the number of people that can be together at one time. It will also give students the flexibility to study at a time and place of their choosing, allowing them to move through the material at their own pace without the distractions that can sometimes occur in a traditional classroom.

Apex Academy Online courses provide integrated learning solutions that encompasses a wide range of media to provide effective learning outcomes, and by delivering them asynchronously, it allows students to work at their own pace and not be tied to a set timetable.

Personalized Learning

In an online teaching environment, the material can be presented and adapted to suit individual student learning preferences. The material can be in the form of a traditional classroom lesson or broken out in the form of project-based learning where the student is directed to discover the material through online research. The flexibility of this approach makes it easier to accommodate learning styles on a student-by-student basis, making the material more meaningful.

Apex Academy Online teachers and guidance counsellors work closely with students to identify their preferred learning style and continue to monitor student progress through online tools such as:

  • ePortfolio – where the student submits coursework that the teacher can assess and subsequently guide the student to improve their understanding where necessary
  • Video Conferencing – where the student can work one-on-one with the teacher to address specific questions and reinforce their understanding of concepts
  • Canvas Studio – where teachers can upload personalized content to help students in their understanding, and at the same time, students are able to comment on the content to create a dialog with the teacher.

Bite-Sized Learning

Educational studies have shown that student attention span has always been a problem in the classroom where students can sometimes struggle with large bodies of text and information, leading to a diminished ability to learn. Teachers can now use technology to introduce bite-sized or micro-learning to make the material delivery less intense and more effective. The small interactive learning modules allow the student to focus their attention and greatly improve the effectiveness of their learning.

The asynchronous delivery of Apex Academy Online courses allows students to do as much or as little of the module at any one time; they can also repeat or replay the content as many times as they wish to best suit their preferred learning style.

gamification of education is emerging

Gamification of Education

Parents often complain that their children can spend countless hours playing games on their computers, yet resist any attempt to get them to spend time completing online school work. To address this online course material is being integrated into games so that students are able to learn as they play. It is designed to remove the tedium from learning by tapping into a student’s natural desire for competition and achievement. Gamification improves learning as dopamine is released in the brain when a new skill is learned or an interesting piece of information is found. Using this approach, learning becomes a pleasurable experience as well as establishing a positive response that helps move the information into long-term memory.

Apex Academy Online uses content specific, age appropriate gamification to enhance student course material interaction.

Exam Management

AI-based online proctoring services remove the need for exam scheduling, exam centers and exam invigilation by allowing students to schedule and take tests and exams online while being closely monitored by a proctoring service to ensure the integrity of the testing process is maintained.

Apex Academy Online courses already include online proctored tests and exams, allowing students to set their own test and exam schedules, avoiding the need to schedule and travel to designated exam centres

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is being used more and more in education to provide support for teachers and students by being able to carry out routine tasks or adapt course content to student input to create a more effective learning experience.

AI can be used to carry out routine grading functions, particularly in multiple choice test environments. Essay grading applications, although in their infancy, are fast improving and in the future may release teachers from the burden of grading to allow them to focus on classroom/course-based activities.

AI embedded in online courses can adapt to a student’s learning style and progress by changing the way the material is presented or give the student more practice to reinforce the concepts. Applications to automate course material delivery is also its infancy; however, in the future as they improve, Apex Academy Online will integrate the functionality into its courses to offer students a more adaptive and effective learning experience.

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