When we can’t prevent unpleasant events or fully cope with their consequences, at least we can try to get useful experiences for the future from them. Such an approach is relevant for the COVID-19 pandemic that has changed life in the whole world.
Except for developments in healthcare directed against the disease, COVID-19 also pushed forward the use of modern technologies for education and work. Digitalization was considered progressive and beneficial in learning areas even before the pandemic. However, when isolation and staying at home became the demand for everyone, even the most conservative people were forced to master new technologies.
Let’s not stay on the ground of unproven words and abstract suggestions. Instead, look at the statistics. The number of laptops and tablets shipped to primary and secondary schools in the United States nearly doubled from 14 million before the pandemic to 26.7 million after it started. The worldwide audience for Google Classroom (the name of the service speaks for itself) increased from 40 million to more than 150 million students and educators. Zoom Video Communications provided free services to more than 125,000 schools in 25 countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Clearly, students and teachers who couldn’t continue their education activities in a used way still needed to somehow work on getting and giving proper knowledge. Education apps and platforms that allowed them to interact were the solutions to the sudden (as the pandemic itself) but a significant problem.
While the disease was a threat and a vaccine against it was not invented, teachers and students had no choice except to use video communications and educational apps to continue education. However, after the vaccine was invented, people could get back to the used style of education, and the question about the advantages and disadvantages of using different educational apps and technologies became crucial.
The advantages of the new approach to education were evident. Apps made involvement and engagement much easier. It allows the student to get permanent access to all the educational materials they might need, despite the time and place. Feedback and communication with a teacher also became less challenging. In addition, apps made the education process more playful and entertaining. No less important can be that students and teachers were able to stay in their usual and comfortable environment, which is important for both the physical and psychological sides of education.
However, remote learning and using educational apps also have their disadvantages. For instance, learning from home, already mentioned previously, can have both positive and negative sides. Yes, it allows teachers or students to stay in a comfortable environment. But, uniting personal space and working place in one makes the mental switch between the activities more challenging. Even grown-up people have problems with work-life balance in remote work, and this issue can be even more difficult for children and adolescents.
One more issue that remains relevant for all apps is the fact they collect and store personal data. Evidently, educational institutions must pay proper attention to the safety of the apps and programs they use for educational purposes. However, the risk of hack or attack remains topical for all kinds of apps and software.
Another problem also goes beyond the narrow topic of educational apps and touches on the relevant issues for the nowadays technologically progressive society. Smartphones, laptops, and access to the internet are related to the majority of both professional and personal activities that people have now.
Digitalization truly made many processes much more convenient and easier. But at the same time, it increases eye strain and reduces the necessary physical activity. In addition, the impact of digitalization on mental health remains a controversial topic.
Despite the probable negative impacts and challenges that digitalization of education causes, it’s obvious that the experience and progress made during the pandemic won’t be left without attention. Teachers and students who see the advantages educational apps offer won’t turn back to the conservative methods they used before.
As it is in most topics about new inventions and progress in general, the best approach is moderate and prudent. People won’t agree to the less convenient options after they have tried the more convenient ones. However, challenges and threats related to educational apps and the digitalization of education also mustn't be left without attention.
Overcoming these challenges once again makes relation to the topic, wider than educational apps or digitalization in general. Raising children is a complex and difficult process, and modern technologies add both more convenience and more tasks as well.
No one except parents or guardians can properly watch for children and adolescents to inculcate a healthy attitude toward technological devices. They have to teach children that, yes, gadgets make our lives easier, but it’s important to give your eyes a rest and do exercises. Adults can help to separate a place where a child or adolescent can learn and do homework in the room. It can be done with shelving or any other design decision to help a student switch from education to leisure. And, of course, nothing can be compared with the personal example of an adult who doesn’t spend all the time with gadgets and has healthy habits.
Education app, free essay writer app, or any other app that can make life easier isn’t a threat in itself. In fact, as the experience of the pandemic showed, digitalization can make learning easier and more convenient. The problems appear when the attitude to modern technologies excluding care about the state of health, can lead to spending all the time with a smartphone or laptop.
The time of pandemic showed the potential of education apps, currently developed with AR, VR, and AI. Cultivating healthy habits related to modern technologies is one more part of the long and complex process of improving the contemporary educational process.