Lenovo’s latest study suggests tech changes from COVID-19 will have a long-term impact on how education is delivered and says that a distributed learning strategy is key to achieving best educational outcomes in the ‘new normal’.
Lenovo recently commissioned IDC to examine the impact of COVID-19 on the education landscape. The IDC InfoBrief, Reimagining the Future of Learning in the Digital Era, reveals how the technological transformation of the education sector has accelerated during COVID-19, highlighting the importance of intelligent technologies to deliver quality education, mitigate health risks, and build student resilience.
According to Lenovo, for many educational institutions, the mass migration into distributed, online learning during the pandemic was launched very quickly, without the opportunity for change management processes and operational best practices. This resulted in education institutions recognising the critical need for a well-coordinated and structured approach to ensure digital accessibility, curated content quality, enhanced student learning experiences and support for educators and administrators.
However, with almost one third of education institutions in Asia Pacific expecting their budget to fall by 10 to 20 percent, and a quarter anticipating a bigger drop of 20 to 49 percent, Lenovo claims education institutions are confronted to rethink their future strategies for digital transformation.
Asia Pacific in the Next Normal
According to Lenovo, accelerating digital transformation in the next normal of Asia Pacific’s education landscape is essential amid the emergence of several challenges in the next normal. Even with some careful easing of restrictions in some markets, circumstances remain dynamic and ever-changing.
Educational institutions face the challenge of maintaining a delicate balance between pre-COVID19 normalcy and protecting students’ health. For curriculums that cannot be replicated virtually, such as engineering and medical courses, educational institutions have to adopt smarter ways to simulate the physical learning experience, without compromising the health and safety of students.
There is also a need to ensure a digital learning ecosystem where students, regardless of family income, geographical location and age group, will continue having access to these materials.
Having a distributed learning strategy that taps on smarter technology is essential and critical for education institutions to remain agile and be prepared for unpredictability. According to the IDC InfoBrief, 35 percent of institutions are turning their focus to strengthening their software capabilities, 30 percent are looking to invest in cyber security solutions to ensure online safety for students, and 20 percent of institutions want to improve operational efficiency.
According to Lenovo, accelerating digital transformation and adopting intelligent digital tools are pivotal to helping education institutions ensure that learning continues, while empowering students to build the skills needed for the future workforce.
With almost half facing looming budget cuts, education institutions need to find smarter technologies to accelerate digital transformation, and to do so in a smarter way by leveraging educational solutions. This enables the school IT to focus less on fixing random and time-consuming IT glitches.
By collaborating with leading software developers, Lenovo says it offers holistic and smarter education solutions that are designed to protect the software and hardware used for distributed learning, such as SentinelOne, a next-generation antivirus software that proactively identifies and blocks malicious activities amid a growing number of cyberthreats. Security is also secured through FileWave, a multi-platform and unified endpoint management system that offers complete client management capabilities for both Windows and macOS computers, and protects against unauthorized access.
Lenovo claims its Veative Home Study application, for instance, a web-based learning library with over 500 lessons, provides virtual reality experiences and assessments on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Students also have the opportunity to exercise their creativity using the suite of six creativity tools on their Chromebooks to create videos, podcasts, art, books and so on. Teachers too can create creative projects through these ready-to-use apps that promote interactive learning.
According to Lenovo Executive Director and GM Stuart King, we have entered the next phase of what is likely to be a multi-phase pandemic, where the education landscape still remains extremely fluid.
“In this dynamic environment, learning has to continue even if students and teachers are physically apart. Educators and institutions have the opportunity to take advantage of transformative technology, such as Lenovo’s smart education solutions, which will enable them to stay agile and equip students with the necessary 21st century skills for the future workforce,” says King.
Commenting on the shift to the digitization of education and deployment of a distributed learning strategy, IDC Head of Public Sector Gerald Wang says care must be taken to ensure the digitally displaced are not excluded from essential education services, especially at k-12 or compulsory education levels.
“COVID-19 has digitally accelerated online learning into full-production learning ecosystems for many K-12 and tertiary institutions. These institutions should not let this crisis go to waste, as the pandemic offers new opportunities to explore technological and organizational innovations. New edutech use cases in teaching, administrative systems automation, and charting new learning experiences for students are just some examples of edutech challenges that educators most probably did not have the resources or operational contexts to explore fully before,” says Wang.