Experts from Innowise Group took a peek on the current situation with eLearning platforms to find some insights on how it will change.
How the game changed
The pandemic has changed the education norms dramatically. COVID-19 dragged us out of offices and classrooms into our bedrooms where we didn't see our fellow coworkers and co-learners. Even though we gradually get back to face-to-face interactions with people, the odds that we will stick to the hybrid or completely online form of education in the next couple of years are pretty high.
Even though we may feel safe from the disease at home, such surroundings bring major troubles like anxiety, sometimes resulting in depression and shallow and insufficient learning process, when we don't absorb the knowledge and skills given by 100%.
During the highly severe pandemic crisis, strict lockdown measures help lower the anxiety rates together with nation-wide vaccination mandates.
But when it comes to learning, the outlook is not so promising. According to the McKinsey COVID-19 and education: The lingering effects of unfinished learning
research, the 2020-21 school year resulted in students having been on average five months behind in math and four months behind in reading.
Experts from McKinsey define this gap between the current and the expected by the curriculum skills as unfinished learning.
Moreover, the term 'unfinished learning' covers not only academic knowledge but also social skills that are vital for the future success of students. These skills can't be trained without direct social interactions, a lack of which we can see nowadays.
eLearning platforms boom
The pandemic has led to the boom of online education. It's safer for both educators and learners and can be conducted from any point on Earth that allows access to the Internet.
Zoom, Google Meet, Discord, YouTube, and many other platforms have become a shelter for educational institutions all over the world. Each platform has its own set of great features but there's a catch: they have not been designed for conducting online classes. Thus, their functionality is very limited in these terms.
Moreover, there are's a range ofsecurity issues that come with these platforms, like Zoom bombing cases or malware distribution via Discord. All these flaws combined can seriously disrupt the education process.
A good platform for online education should be:
- Secure. Personal data of students is stored on the platform's servers and they actively interact with it, leaving strong digital footprints. The platform has to ensure high levels of cybersecurity to avoid data breaches and personal information leaks.
- Functional. The platform should feature an array of functions that would bring its users as close to offline learning experience as possible, yet provide a robust set of tech features to power and improve it. For example, using a virtual blackboard or creating assessment tests on a single platform without any need in jumping between apps or browser windows.
- Separate from entertainment platforms. For today, YouTube is probably the biggest online learning platform with terabytes of educational videos. Discord is great for gathering with fellow students and working on a project or dealing with a topic. But YouTube is primarily used for watching entertaining videos and Discord mainly aims at gathering gaming communities. These platforms can be used for educational purposes only if there are no sufficient alternatives, but in ideal circumstances it should be a dedicated solution that ensures the absence of distracting factors like guild chats or a new video from a favourite blogger.
- Accessible. Swift Internet connection is still unavailable in some regions, and a good eLearning platform should take this into consideration by being lag-tolerant and having a quickly loading user interface.
There's a wide range of such platforms fitting all or most of the needs mentioned above.
For example, in the process of developing their own eLearning platform for schools, Innowise Group focuses on its accessibility, security and functionality. It is designed as a web application, meaning no software downloading or installing is required. The reactive design of the application should allow users to utilize it comfortably from any device, while the intuitive interface is easy to adapt to. The platform also must have a geographically distributed server architecture that would allow handling high loads without lags or interruptions.
In terms of security, everything must be world-class: the platform has got to be resistant against OWASP TOP-10 vulnerabilities, connections are required to be protected according to TLS and SRTP protocols, all personal data needs to be stored in encrypted form, and access rights, including access to view personal data, ought to be strictly delimited.
In terms of functionality, the platform is anticipated to bring the experience as close to offline education as possible to its users. Educators will be able to:
- Create lesson schedules, invite particular learners from different groups;
- Broadcast the lesson, utilize virtual blackboard to visualize the material;
- Prepare, conduct and administer tests;
- Create, store and share materials;
- Communicate with students via in-app voice or text chat;
- Create and analyze statistics for the particular student or group in general and leave feedback based on the data acquired.
During the lesson, the list of attendees should be visible to the organizer. Learners will have an ability to interact with each other and the tutor via in-built voice and text chats. Similar to offline lessons, students will raise their hands to ask or answer questions and the broadcast will be switched from the tutor to the student.
The virtual blackboard is designed for writing and painting with markers of different colours, attaching stickers, adding shapes and using a pointer. Everything written or drawn on the board should be easily copied, pasted, and saved.
The pandemic has altered our lifestyles substantially and has brought a range of problems, including educational process disruption. eLearning platforms are not a novelty, yet now more of them appear with new functions like harnessing the power of AR/VR technologies for conducting lessons or ML for analyzing student data.
EdTech will also bring more offline experiences to online education. Taking into consideration the booming metaverse topic, we're looking forward to seeing the first paper plane flying across the virtual classroom sometime in the near future.