It has been a long, difficult year dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. It has almost completely altered how many of us do things whether it be working from home, visiting friends and family, or skipping planned vacations. Most of us are looking hopefully forward to 2021 and desperately thinking of brighter days when things can get back to normal.
These feelings are to be expected; very few of us have really enjoyed the changes that the pandemic has brought about. But there are a few things that have changed for the better. For instance, many of us took up new hobbies in our free time or were able to spend a greater amount of time with family than we ever dreamed of.
Another of the big changes that the COVID-19 pandemic brought about is in technology. Being forced to work and learn from home pushed many, many people to become dependent upon technologies in ways that they weren’t before. Likewise, this demand on tech pushed it to adapt and become what we needed it to be. Many of these new tech advancements will continue forward with us even as things start to return to what they previously were.
Broad Tech Developments
Though many of your concerns as an educator may be centered around the classroom, there are a lot of tech developments taking place outside of education in response to COVID-19. Many of these work to benefit all of our lives and will be something that remains long after COVID is gone. Some of them can be great topics of conversation when discussing the tech push associated with COVID with students.
Take, for instance, the power that social media and other social networking technologies have had in our lives during the pandemic. While stuck at home unable to see friends and family, many people reached out on social networks for support. Many connected with old friends and kept up with relatives more than they did before COVID. Though there are many benefits, there are also some negatives — for example, a lot of disinformation about the pandemic from mask mouth to government conspiracies have spread like wildfire.
Advancements in healthcare technology have also come a long way as a result of our changing needs for them. For instance, telehealth, which has been a slow-to-implement technology for over a decade, has advanced in leaps and bounds over the past year. With this, the use of healthcare apps has exploded, and online Zoom appointments with doctors for simple health questions are more popular than ever.
COVID and Robots
Robotics is another realm that has seen exponential growth in the wake of the COVID pandemic. Some experts estimate that nearly 133 million jobs in robotics will be created in the next couple of years. This makes it something that students should learn about and become familiar with.
Many students are already interfacing with robots now. Some bots have been designed to check temperatures and identify potential COVID carriers, bots that are now being released in bigger schools around the globe as they work to reopen. These and other bots can help students adjust to the new realities of a COVID-19 world such as by enforcing social distancing standards and helping to develop creative new curriculums for students.
Across all sorts of industries, robots have become more of a normal phenomenon rather than an experimental or luxury item. Many farms are incorporating robotic vegetable pickers into their workforce to meet demand with so many people out with COVID and more surgeries are being completed with robotics than ever before. It will benefit students to gain a working knowledge of how robots will continue to impact their lives.
Taking STEM Online
Perhaps one of the most significant challenges that many educators have faced in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to reach their students while they aren’t in the classroom. The vast majority of schools have gone online for at least some time in the past year, which has brought to life the stark realities of technology inequality at home.
Beyond just getting students online in the first place, there is also the struggle of keeping them engaged and offering specialized help to them in an online world. Arguably the most important thing is to create a welcoming online environment for them to work in and strive to maintain the same quality of education as would be given in person.
Unfortunately, there is going to be an obvious educational slide. This can be especially grievous for those teachers working through a STEM education curriculum. Working to combat this and recover from it is going to keep students and teachers busy over the next decade, but there are tools to help such as providing additional support and getting help from larger EdTech companies.
COVID has changed a lot in our lives over the past year. One of the silver linings is the incredible advancement that has happened in the tech realm to help keep up with our changing lifestyles. Tech brushes every aspect of our lives and teaching students of STEM and the ways they can expect technologies to impact them both now and after graduation is a huge advantage.
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