When COVID-19 closed down school facilities in the spring, both educators and students had to find ways to adapt to remote learning. In the end, a prominent amount of adaptation took the form of collaboration between the students themselves.
Students harnessed the technology and tools at their disposal to the point where sharing things, like notes and study materials, between each other became the norm. This collaboration is not new and students have been finding ways around teachers and examinations forever, but when students are not in the classroom, it puts educators in a position of redundancy. When educators reuse old exams from the past, and students sharing study materials often have access to the answers already, the students are not truly learning, but rather, simply memorizing. And if education is online, the problem might remain unabated.
How can educators come together to bring about change to ensure they will keep up with the resourcefulness of their students?
Find ways of collaborating to update teaching methods.
Educators are not in competition with each other, like, say, their counterparts in business are, yet they have so far failed to embrace collaboration in the same way. Hyper competitive businesses have been collaborating to maximize their research and development to ultimately satisfy consumer demands. And, in the case of educators, their consumers are the students.
Here are two simple ways in which educators can begin collaborating in order to properly prepare their students for the future, whether teaching is being done in person or remotely:
1. Tech-savvy educators can help other educators with digital learning.
It should come as no surprise that students and younger generations, in general, are more technologically adept and able to learn newer technologies with more ease. Educators from an older age bracket, who have spent years teaching students in-person and with more traditional methods, will surely have more difficulties with digital and remote learning than their students.
One way to mitigate this technological divide is for younger teachers or those with experience using certain technologies for digital learning, to initiate training sessions and onboard the less experienced teachers to the new technology. This can be done in many ways, either with oversight from the university, within a given faculty, or even between educators teaching a certain subject. What is important is that the technologically benighted teachers collaborate with those educators already familiar with digital learning.
2. Collaborate and use each other to create more effective exams.
As students have discovered, online learning requires online solutions, and they have continued collaborating with each other through educational platforms—still sharing notes, and even, answers to previous exam questions. They are still finding ways to dupe their educators and pass their examinations without actually learning the substance of what they are supposed to be taught.
In the Netherlands, this happened at a university where students collaborated with each other and nearly all of them passed one of their exams with perfect scores. Educational platforms do not suffer from geographical boundaries, so this can happen anywhere if methods of examination are not changed or updated year on year. What can educators do to prevent this?
They can take up the mantle of proper collaboration as well. Together, educators should instead invest in ways to create examinations that prepare their students for entering the workforce. If educators collaborate and devise examinations that are predicated upon instilling an understanding of topics rather than simple memorization, students will have to adapt to it for the better, through digital mediums or back in the classroom—providing students with the necessary skills to be effective and contributing citizens.
Marnix Broer, CEO of StuDocu, the ed-tech platform focused on note sharing in higher education which has over 15 million active users.