i3 | October 08, 2020

Technology Helps Remote Education Make the Grade

Steve Koenig

The sudden nationwide shift to remote education by schools this spring was a major test for technology, teachers and students alike. But with the help of robust digital tools, remote education programs made the grade, new research from CTA shows. 

Now, as the back to school season approaches, many school systems are preparing to virtually welcome students returning to class. But what were the lessons learned from the remote education pop quiz this spring? CTA’s COVID-19 Impact: Technology and Remote Education study (July 2020) examines the virtual classroom experience from the perspective of teachers and parents of schoolchildren. The findings illustrate technology’s central role in distance learning, but is there room for improvement?

Remote Learning Lessons

One key observation of the study is educators experienced in remote education tend to use a broader range of technologies and methods, like gamification, to teach. This suggests training or coaching of teachers new to the remote classroom could amplify their effectiveness —and enjoyment —of distance learning. Notably, less than two-thirds (63%) of parents say (strongly agree + agree) their child’s teachers are adequately trained to use technology products and services for remote education.

Teachers cite a core set of digital tools as important in remote education, including laptops (84%), smartphones (71%), tablets (69%), desktops (64%) and external webcams for TVs (52%). However, educators with previous remote teaching experience are significantly more likely to identify many other technologies as important distance education tools, including: STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) products (64%), augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) headsets (60%), smart TVs with an integrated webcam (59%), digital assistants (58%) and robotic toys (56%).

What’s more, 83% of educators with previous remote teaching experience were very or somewhat satisfied with the remote education experience this spring, significantly above the mean satisfaction level of 61%. The same is true among parents. Parents of children who had previously engaged in remote education were significantly more likely to indicate high levels of satisfaction (80%), versus the mean score of 64%.

Maintaining Connections

Importantly, teachers and parents also agree on the efficacy of remote education and the quality of interpersonal connections despite the distance. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of teachers and 70% of parents surveyed in the study say (strongly agree + agree) their students/children are learning because of implementing remote education technologies. Additionally, 71% of teachers and parents believe technology products and services help maintain connections between teachers and students in a remote education environment.

Does this mean remote education is the new normal for schools? Not likely. The data show teachers and students both prefer the physical classroom to a screen. Less than half (48%) of teachers say they would prefer to teach at least some classes remotely and even fewer (44%) say they would choose to teach remotely in the future. Meanwhile, a slim majority of parents (55%) believe their child enjoys remote classes.

Technology innovation has clearly helped remote education endeavors achieve some early successes, and more lessons will be learned this fall.

Parents of children who had previously engaged in remote education were significantly more likely to indicate high levels of satisfaction (80%), versus the mean score of 64%.

Subscribe to i3 Magazine

I3, the flagship magazine from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, focuses on innovation in technology, policy and business as well as the entrepreneurs, industry leaders and startups that grow the consumer technology industry. Subscriptions to i3 are available free to qualified participants in the consumer electronics industry.