COVID & Digital Education

Chanel Turner

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi

What does the ‘new normal’ look like for education & research? We discuss what education in a COVID world might mean, and how tech and web-based platforms are changing the way we engage with information.

The ‘new normal’ has seen many shifts in our everyday life. From who we interact with, to how we interact with them, where we work, how we work, how we collaborate… and the list goes on. But another major shift in this COVID world, has been for education. How will children learn? How do we connect with students of all ages? How do we ensure engagement outside of the classroom? How do we ensure engagement without face to face interaction? How do we ensure engagement at all?

While many of these questions are still uncertain, one thing is for sure – education and research is a sector with huge value in moulding not just our youth, but our understanding of so many different facets of life, and arguable the development of society itself. It is something that simply must remain potent, even in a COVID world. But, how?

Technology plays a huge role in ensuring engagement and education can continue outside of the four walls of a classroom, a lecture theatre, a tutorial, or a huddle space. It can stimulate collaboration when in isolation, it can show a familiar face when solo studying, but more importantly, it can ensure the mind is stimulated no matter where in the world you find yourself.

The likes of ViewSonic have made major investments into education technology, and have innovated products that can stimulate distance learning through digital collaboration. For example, MyViewBoard is an interactive white board that works both in classroom or remotely, and includes features that stimulate both engagement and interaction.

Some of MyViewBoard’s features include the ability to screen record (to circulate material post-class), raise your hand (for anyone engaging remotely to join the conversation or ask a question), video and audio-conferencing (a necessary ‘new normal’ setting), and other digital collaboration tools. It is classed as an ‘innovation for tomorrow’, and a way to encourage blended learning through the use of intuitive technology.

But does education in our ‘new normal’ start and stop with technology? In our opinion, it simply can’t. Education is more than just seeing information; it’s about connecting with the material, it’s about connecting with a teacher, it’s about pushing yourself and operating outside of your comfort zone. All things that can be achieved through technology, but the ability to ‘log off’ at any time, means it can’t ever truly control attention and emotion.

Education and research truly come alive when they become an exploratory, sensory experience. When information can be explored in ways never seen before, when the imagination is stimulated alongside logic and curiosity. We see so often how potent storytelling is. Well when education and research become a story to be consumed, they too become truly potent. But that has to be more than listening and taking notes, it needs to be tactile, where the student is in control of HOW and WHEN they engage with the material.

Welcome then, the world of web-based education platforms - and no, we’re not meaning online education games. Web-based education platforms become especially potent when used to explore global data, scientific research and findings, geo-focussed topics like climate change or deforestation; when they’re honest, interactive, data driven, news related information sources, that become an enjoyable, 360° exploration tool for learning.

Education should be fun, it should stimulate reaction and memorable experiences, and we feel the real future of education and research lies in these web-based platforms.

As W.B Yeats once said: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

The Pufferfish solution to web-discovery...

Pufferfish are experts in experiential design, in innovation, in creating content and innovative solutions that move audiences. We change the way information is used, viewed and understood.

We re-focus reality. We make digital real!

In 2020, we will release a web-based platform that puts global data at the epicentre of education; and will not just enhance the potency of digital learning, but it will dedicate itself to ensuring education and engagement continue no matter where you are. Whether it be toggling water temperature data sets on and off, or exploring carbon emissions over a specific geo-location, or just simply exploring the beauty of earth with the click of a button. Our solution will put the world in your hands; and all in an easy to load, Web GL format.

In the words of ISPRS, virtual globe platforms are ‘revolutionising earth observation data access and integration’; they have the ability to bring complex global data to life, and in doing so have ‘opened up new possibilities for collaborative research and product generation' (ISPRS). We as humanity remember how something made us feel, and having this tactile relationship with our Earth is the key to unlocking environmental awareness and understanding like never before.

“The ability of users to contribute content provides a uniquely human richness to virtual globes. We are a social species and our ability to describe, document, and share finds a fertile field in the virtual globe.” (ISPRS) With access to our extensive content library, with fast and easy to navigate features, with scalability, built in analytics, multiple hosting possibilities, and huge flexibility in how you use it, and where; this solution is set to redefine how web-learning looks, feels and performs.

With a release date of Q3, 2020 – watch this space for more!

As with so many elements of our ‘new normal’, it all stems on collaboration, on conversation, and on community. “Working together to get the job done”, as a wise man once said. We would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the future of education and research in a COVID world; whether that be primary school level, high school, tertiary level, professional development, or otherwise.

What we do know for sure, is people all over the world are fighting for education to remain the stronghold of development as it always has been. So, stay part of that conversation, and watch this space for more on what Pufferfish will do for the sector post-COVID, and beyond.

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