Few students and teachers celebrated the coming of 2020 by resolving to master an online learning management system (LMS). Yet almost all instructors and pupils ended the year with a newfound appreciation for remote learning portals. In fact, digital learning reached new heights of normalization during the pandemic—and its acceptance has remained high.
According to Instructure, the maker of LMS platform Canvas, moving classrooms online proved to be a boon for remote instruction. As noted in their 2020 State of Student Success Survey, more than half of college-age learners now prefer remote schooling.
This seismic shift in sentiment is unlikely to revert back. Rather, it’s apt to grow as more people discover the widespread benefits to remote learning via a robust LMS. Those advantages include tremendous flexibility, self-paced education options, and heightened peer-to-peer and peer-to-instructor collaboration. Canvas, for example, had over 30 million users before the pandemic hit, and this school year they grew from 3 to 13 statewide agreements for early education.
Of course, online learning isn’t perfect. That’s why Instructure’s team members are identifying and filling in remote learning opportunity gaps through several key initiatives.
1. Bridging the Digital Divide
Remote learning can only be successful when all participants have access to up-to-date devices and reliable WiFi. Along with Zoom and other organizations, Instructure has formally urged the Biden-Harris administration to address access-related inequities, especially in rural areas. Specifically, the partners are asking local, state, and federal governments to improve funding to and accountability of remote public education.
The partners also are recommending that public educational institutions update their core technologies to make remote learning intuitive and seamless. Already, Instructure is working with more than a dozen public school districts to develop forward-learning online curricula and protocols. The objective? Make sure that all classes can go remote with little notice to reduce lapses in education for all students.
2. Capturing and Analyzing Data Points
Teachers often have limited objective feedback on what happens in their classrooms. For instance, how long are students viewing the videos their instructors create or share? How often are students checking into the Canvas portal? Which students are putting in an effort by collaborating frequently? Canvas provides extensive data collection opportunities to answer those and other pressing questions.
Having raw data can help instructors and administrators create more engaging online classrooms, coursework, quizzes, and homework assignments. Additionally, the data can help teachers have more substantive discussions with underperforming learners. It may even become a way for K-12 schools, colleges, universities, and trade schools to show their value.
3. Training Next-Generation Level Teachers
Modern instructors must be comfortable using an LMS. Otherwise, they will have difficulty keeping up with the needs of digitally based students like Generation Z learners. The Canvas interface enables teachers to share videos and other materials across classrooms, too, encouraging cross-pollination of exceptional ideas. Over time, this sharing improves the quality of any school’s or department’s online teaching.
Canvas can become a continuing education portal as well, allowing teachers to self-assess, upskill remotely, and learn from one another. Plus, Canvas Catalog has the capacity to host scalable, branded professional development trainings that can be deployed as needed.
4. Integrating with Third-Party Solutions
Remote learning is always evolving. To stay at the front of the curve, Instructure has designed Canvas to support many popular third-party service provider integrations. These include everything from YouTube and Microsoft Office 365 to Turnitin and McGraw-Hill course cartridges. They also include some other LMS portals, making it possible to migrate classes into Canvas.
These integrations expand the breadth of Canvas and give instructors more opportunities to connect creatively and effectively with students. At the same time, teachers can rely on the Canvas framework for a consistent, dependable course starting point. This means they can make each Canvas classroom as complex or simple as they want.
Today, students of all ages are actively engaged in online learning—and they’re voicing their support of its continuation. Moving forward with a full-fledged hybrid classroom approach supported by players like Instructure makes sense and will make schools stronger.