The COVID-19 pandemic is prompting many colleges and universities to abruptly and comprehensively adopt online learning, remote work, and other activities to help contain the spread of the virus. In the past decade, institutions have recognized the importance of advising, early alerts, degree planning, and other services to help students attain their academic goals affordably and efficiently. A wide range of applications and new technologies to support student success are now available. It may prove invaluable to help students adapt to fully remote learning. EDUCAUSE data reveal that all institutions, students, faculty, and staff are ready and able to use these technologies during the pandemic.1
This research summary is one of a series of reports outlining higher education’s readiness to adapt in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
How Many Institutions Are Using Technology to Support Student Success?
Core technologies that support student success include advising center management and an advising case management system that tracks student interactions (70% partial or institution-wide deployment).
Other data and analytics technologies and practices support managing, sharing, and decision-making related to student success.
Some types of institutions are more prepared—or less prepared—than others to use technology to support student success. Bachelor’s institutions, which typically place the strongest emphasis on campus-based learning, are least ready to use data and technology to support student success, while associate’s institutions, which generally adopt learning and instructional technologies more rapidly, are the most prepared.
Are Faculty, Staff, and Students Able to Use Technology to Support Student Success?
Having technologies and analytics is one step. Providing students, faculty, and staff with the access and training to use these systems is a critical additional step. More than half of institutions take steps to facilitate the adoption and use of student success technologies by faculty, advisors, and other staff. Six in ten institutions provide applications that enable students to access data such as current academic standing and resources including tips for improvement. Students at institutions that don’t provide such access might struggle to track their progress during times when it’s difficult to get such feedback, and faculty, advisors, and other staff may lack sufficient training or even access to use tools to help students.
Do Institutions Have Technology to Help Students with Credential Planning?
Students need to develop, monitor, and adjust their academic plans to ensure they are on track to attain the credentials they seek as expeditiously as possible; sometimes that entails managing academic credits across multiple institutions. This need may be even more pressing given the current disruption and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic. Fortunately, most institutions have a core set of applications to help students plan their educational programs and manage credits, even across institutions. However, fewer than half of institutions have technologies that can recommend courses or degree programs for students based on their academic record or other factors. Most students who have used these technologies find them very or extremely useful
The COVID-19 Corona virus global pandemic is creating a global learning crisis in addition to a global health crisis. 82% of the world’s learners are no longer in traditional schooling or education programs and UNESCO is recommending online learning and education technology to to reach learners remotely.
All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development developed a list of nine ACR GCD-funded solutions to respond to educational needs during the global COVID-19 Digital Response. I’ve added a 10th edutech solution. I invite you to add more in the comments.
Each solution is available for free in multiple languages and, once downloaded, does not require a continuous Internet connection. Ministries of Education, educational development organizations and parents can leverage these tools to support children’s educational needs during school closures.
Edutech Solutions for COVID-19 Response
1. Global Digital Library
This open source digital library offers free accessible eBooks in more than 40 languages readable on the web, mobile, or for downloading and printing. The books can also be translated or localized directly on the platform.
2. Feed the Monster
A winner of ACR GCD and Norad’s EduApp4Syria prize to support the education needs of out-of-school Syrian refugee children, Feed the Monster is an early literacy digital gaming app that teaches children reading and writing fundamentals while collecting and growing their pet monsters. Available in more than 50 languages on Google Play, and in Arabic on the App Store, research shows the app improves children’s early literacy skills and psychosocial wellbeing.
3. Antura and the Letters
Also a winner of an EduApp4Syria prize, Antura and the Letters is available in English and Arabic on Google Play, the App Store and Windows download. Designed for children age 4 and older, the app enables children to catch letters hidden around the world, solve puzzles and earn gifts, alongside Antura the dog. Like Feed the Monster, the research conducted on use of Antura and the Letters shows improvement in children’s early literacy skills and psychosocial wellbeing.
The winner of ACR GCD’s Enabling Writers prize, Bloom enables teachers, parents and children to easily create leveled and decodable children’s books in any language. Books can be adapted from shell books, or new resources created using Bloom software’s templates for basic books, picture dictionaries and wall calendars, with images available from its free illustration library. Don’t want to create the books yourself? Access the Bloom Library, with basic leveled and decodable books available in more than 220 languages.
Winner of multiple ACR GCD prizes, eKitabu offers dozens of books for free download and readable via free e-reader software. eKitabu’s Studio KSL (Kenyan Sign Language) and Studio RSL (Rwandan Sign Language) also offer several sign language videos and sign language storybooks to support accessible, early grade reading.
6. World Around You
Funded through ACR GCD’s Sign On For Literacy prize, WAY enables communities to create content in local and national sign languages and share it in WAY’s open content digital library of folktales. The digital libraries are viewable from any web browser and can be remixed by anyone, including children, with simple text and video editing tools.
Children and adults with disabilities such as blindness, low vision, dyslexia and cerebral palsy can access thousands of accessible books on Benetech’s Bookshare platform. Benetech was a winner of ACR GCD’s 2014 grant competition, using the Bookshare platform to provide students who are blind in India access to accessible reading materials. The library is provided to individuals with disabilities for free or low cost, depending on the support of local partners in your region.
8. Kit Kit School
A finalist of ACR GCD’s Sign On For Literacy prize, Kit Kit School is a tablet-based early learning program that includes a suite of games, books, videos, and art and music tools in Swahili and English to support children in learning literacy and math skills independently.
A finalist of ACR GCD’s EduApp4Syria prize, the Sema package of apps enable children to teach themselves how to read, write and do basic numeracy. The curriculum was designed in collaboration with pedagogy experts and teachers in Africa.
I don’t know if Worldreader received ACR-GCD, yet Worldreader is a standout educational resource and needs inclusion on a list like this. Worldreader provides people in the developing world with free access to a library of digital books via e-readers and mobile phones. Since 2010, over 13 million people across 47 countries have read from Worldreader’s digital library of thousands of e-books and they have a special COVID-19 effort. Main image is copyright Worldreader.