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How COVID-19 lessons can help us reimagine a better future for our children’s education

The COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. And it brought many things to light, particularly in the world of education. As the world locked down, educational establishments were forced to change their teaching formats overnight.

The initial results were mixed and the experiences for teachers, learners, and parents tended to be at best average. However, as with any challenging situation, lessons were learnt from the first wave of lockdowns that informed practices for successive ones. The experience for many improved.

Education faced many challenges during the pandemic

There were, and still are, various challenges. Many parents were forced to home school their own children of varying ages while trying to manage a new regime of working from home at the same time. Teachers had to adapt to teaching with different resources through a new medium. Children had to get used to a new way of learning and staying at home.

We all had to deal with technology issues, suitable areas, and equipment for working and learning, and a lack of social interaction. Children particularly felt the impact of not spending time in a social environment as they are still learning how to interact with others. Those at risk in difficult or dangerous homelife situations suffered without the framework and safeguarding elements that school provides.

So what has the pandemic taught us about the future of education?

At Engine Service Design, we believe we are at a crossroads, and we have an opportunity to move forward with the good and leave the bad behind. We imagine a future where we find a better way to educate our children, a future where no child is left behind. Despite the negatives, there are many positives to be taken from what we learnt during the pandemic:

  • Schools discovered that they need better digital infrastructure, tools, and processes if they are to teach successfully and provide effective pastoral care (and made steps to implement some of them).
  • Parents need more help and resources to support their children’s learning.
  • Children are resilient, but the impact on their academic achievement and mental health cannot be underestimated.
  • Some children thrived at home and developed academically. For others it was incredibly tough.

To create a better education experience for future generations, we should take all these factors into account.

What could the future of education look like?

Leveraging the tools in our Service Design System, the team at Engine Service Design have explored this question in our latest Think and Make series, and we’ve shared our insights in this series of articles.

Let’s start with the aspirational future of education, where we imagine a more collaborative approach to education, where teachers are better informed, enabled, and have better channels of communication. Where children have a greater variety of learning opportunities and more support, providing greater opportunities for their future. Where parents can more easily support their children’s learning with greater awareness of how they are performing, ultimately fostering better relationships.

Before the pandemic teachers had the sole role of educating, and in some cases, socialising children. Many were already overwhelmed. Parents were often disconnected from their children’s learning and had a limited understanding of how their child was progressing in certain areas. Whilst there will always be different learning styles, and it’s important to remember that not all children thrive in the traditional classroom environment, the pandemic has shown us that more learning styles can be accommodated with a different approach to education, and we believe we should take that on board.

Maximising learning potential with a holistic look at these 5 Pillars

We need to look at the system holistically and configure a collaborative structure that considers the optimum people, places, tools, processes, and communication channels. Utilising tools from our Service Design System, we’ve begun to reimagine how each of these pillars could transform:

  1. People: imagine if we moved from placing all the responsibility on the educator, to including parents in the support and delivery of their child’s learning, using clear learning objectives, resources, and tools.
  2. Places: imagine moving from solely school-based learning to distributed learning, using a hybrid system that offers learners the best environment for their needs.
  3. Tools: imagine moving from limited resources in a class-based approach to intuitive, blended tools aligned to different learning styles, using new tools and better resources that can be accessed by parents as well as children.
  4. Processes: imagine moving from retrospective performance assessments to continuous feedback and growth, using live data to allow timely interventions.
  5. Communications: imagine moving from intermittent communication to timely and meaningful dialogue, using regular and transparent communication.

Service Design can help us to imagine and visualise a better future, but we’re only scratching the surface here. As we continue to explore this topic, we’ve created a series of Education Pandemic Stories, looking at the different perspectives for an insight into how the pandemic affected a teacher, a parent, and a schoolchild. These are fictional stories but based on real experiences collated from interviews with real people, pulled together to help us see the challenge from the perspectives that matter.

If you have any questions about how service design works, or how it can be used for designing a better educational experience, you can book time with a service design expert below. We would love to hear from you.

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