Over the past year and a half, due to the global pandemic, the academic world has experienced an incredible amount of disruption from the preschool to college level. At the onset of the pandemic, educators scrambled to figure out how to continue teaching and engaging with their students in a virtual classroom. The process was challenging, stressful and for many people, the virtual classroom was not their preferred learning or teaching environment. The learning curve was steep, but ultimately educators and education systems around the world persevered and designed online classrooms, digital lesson plans, Zoom class time, and recreated many of the necessary school activities for a virtual environment. Now that we are gradually moving towards a post-covid world, it appears that some of the changes to learning that the pandemic forced upon educators, students, and families are here to stay.
This upcoming academic school year is fast approaching and it is increasingly likely that the majority of schools will be able to offer in-person learning options again. In the United States, the C.D.C. just released new guidance for the upcoming school year which promotes a full reopening of schools with certain safety measures in place. Although things may not be completely back to normal, classes should look much closer to what we knew before the global pandemic. Thankfully, the academic world has also learned a lot about how to power learning with a digital-first approach. Many educators are even reflecting on their learnings from the past year and have identified a few takeaways:
Students and their families benefit from school leaders offering flexibility in how classes and courses are taught or scheduled, homeschooling options, and offering virtual sessions.
There are so many education technology (edtech) options, that teachers can use edtech thoughtfully to create structured and collaborative environments — whether in-person or virtual.
Online learning works well for some people and most likely a hybrid version incorporating in-person classroom time with online sessions or homeschool will become standard in the future.
Moving forward, educators will be able to apply the learnings from the last academic year, while also returning to some of their previous teaching practices focused on being in the classroom and connecting in-person with students. However, our recent virtual learning experience won’t be completely forgotten, and we predict that the educators who build their teaching practice for the hybrid classroom will find the most success moving forward.
The hybrid classroom will allow for the flexibility that students and families have come to appreciate, and also prepares students who are participating in-person and also remotely. One of the first steps an educator should take when planning for the hybrid classroom will be to build educational materials and resources in the e-learning format so that students have access to them whether they are online or in-person. Digital materials also remove the need to touch, share or pass items between each other — another important safety measure.
The educational materials to focus on initially will most likely include:
Over the past year, some teachers may have addressed these missing materials by coordinating material drop-off and pick-up days, but that isn’t a sustainable option. Instead, it’s time to find a completely digital solution — not only will this save a ton of paper, but it also frees up time for educators and the students themselves.
To create useful educational resources, the materials will need to meet a number of criteria. Documents can’t just be scanned and emailed in a haphazard way to be effective. Now that we see the need for resources to be available digitally for years to come, it makes sense to transform the educational resources into effective digital content.
The most effective digital education resources and materials will need to be:
Easily accessible online - they can’t be huge file sizes or require special programs to view.
Optimized for a variety of screen sizes - laptop, tablet, mobile, etc.
Available for download - in some cases, students will want to save the document for future use or when offline.
Interactive for an enhanced learning experience - maximize engagement with links to additional information, videos, podcasts, and more.
Professional display - students will respond to materials that look designed for digital use as opposed to clunky PDF files or scanned items.
In this version of academia that doesn’t require the class to meet at one specific location or include any in-person engagement, being able to distribute class materials and course requirements in a seamless and effective way will set students (and educators) up for success. Ensuring class materials are easily available will also be helpful as the number of younger students choosing homeschool or virtual learning options increase. The ease with which materials can be accessed and distributed are closely tied to whether students have access to consistent internet and a reliable computing device. It’s important to consider that some students will be using shared computers or tablets to access their classwork, and may be limited due to an unreliable internet connection or tied to expensive mobile data usage. Materials distribution that is effortless and doesn’t require a ton of internet bandwidth or a specific screen size will prove to be critical.
Once the materials have been distributed and the students have accessed them, the overall display of the materials is important to keep in mind. Even though we know that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, it can be hard to get excited about reading or working on a project that is hard to read due to small and unclear text. Instead, excite students with digital class assignments that can be viewed with a fullscreen display or zoomed in closely. Educational materials with links that enhance the content will also engage students even more. If the educational resource is long, adding jump links to various chapters or sections will also make the content more navigable for students. And of course, video content is another way you can make your educational materials really stand out. Digital content can link to a video or even better, you can potentially embed the video content right in your educational material. Educational resources or materials built online are limitless in the ways you can enhance them with interactive elements.
Once you see the power of offering digital resources, it won’t be long before it makes sense to offer all school-related content in a digital format. Schools for all ages often build out additional content including course catalogs, registration packets, school yearbooks, newspapers, student magazines and so much more. Content can bring students and educators together — even if they are physically apart. Make sure students in all locations can easily access the materials that build a school culture and celebrate their students.
Selecting the right edtech platform for transforming your educational materials doesn’t have to be another challenge. Issuu is the most advanced publishing and distribution platform for digital content. Additionally, Issuu is a powerful publishing platform with tons of features and a intuitive user experience! It only takes a few clicks to upload content, publish, and start sharing the content with a simple weblink.
Start by joining Issuu - then upload file types ranging from .pdf, .ppts, .docx, and more. Use design tools such as Canva or Adobe InDesign to create educational materials and then upload your content to Issuu. Or pull existing files from your file management tools such as Dropbox or Google Drive. Once you’ve uploaded the content you will have a beautiful flipbook style educational publication. Enhance your digital educational materials by adding interactivity such as web links, embedded video, and more. Sharing your content is as simple as grabbing a weblink and emailing it to your class.
Issuu enables school leaders and educators to build educational resources for the hybrid classroom and get the most benefit from these learning materials for all students.