In an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, most governments around the world have temporarily closed their educational institutions. As a result, schools were forced to come up with different, more unique ways of conveying knowledge to students, which has proved to be especially challenging in terms of chemistry and other STEM subjects where practical, in-person experience is key. Fortunately, new learning environments and methods of education have emerged during the pandemic, proving to be quite an efficient way of teaching and learning chemistry even in a future, post-COVID world.
Online education remains a priority
As the COVID-19 pandemic still presents a serious threat, the decision to stick to online learning will remain a priority for many countries around the world. But apart from presenting the ideal solution to health and safety concerns, online education is the future of education in more ways than one.
Virtual learning environments and educational programs have proved to be quite efficient in preserving the engagement, interest, and motivation of students, particularly when it comes to STEM subjects. As online education provides a more flexible and authentic learning approach that could be customized to varied student needs, it could have a big impact on encouraging curiosity and creativity among young scientists, especially in terms of chemistry.
Hybrid learning might become the norm
In many American states and European countries, on the other hand, students are slowly returning to traditional learning environments. While online education was a priority at the height of the pandemic for them as well, these schools believe that nothing could truly replace face-to-face learning, as it’s only natural for students to go back to physical classrooms at some point.
But instead of completely replacing online learning, schools should aim to create a hybrid learning environment where online education is used in conjunction with traditional learning, in an effort to improve knowledge retention among young, tech-savvy students. In terms of chemistry, combining online thought theory with in-person lab classes and experiments in safe, controlled environments might be the ideal solution.
Study notes could prove to be great resources
In countries like Canada where students were learning chemistry and other subjects in an effort to acquire the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), new learning materials have been utilized for their evolving study needs. Here, beneficial OSSD notes were used as an important aspect of learning. This allowed students to acquire more information about subjects through study notes and past assignments, while also being able to access these libraries anytime and from anywhere, making them an important part of mobile learning.
In a world where online and hybrid forms of education will likely continue to be a priority, the use of study notes could be quite a helpful tool for young students. Apart from providing additional facts and knowledge about relevant subjects, study notes could also prove to be efficient at explaining concepts of chemistry in a simpler and more understandable manner, thus allowing students to retain even more information.
VR and AR might bring chemistry to life
Although not entirely new technologies, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are incredibly innovative solutions that could prove to be quite beneficial in the education sector. As these technologies continue to evolve, proving more effective and efficient each year, they have enormous potential when it comes to learning chemistry.
For instance, young students could utilize VR and AR to conduct experiments in virtual labs or run tests in other virtual settings. This could become a brilliant learning aid both in online education and hybrid environments, providing students with the opportunity to practice and gain some practical experience even without access to real, physical laboratories.
Interactive learning is improved with gamification
Defined as the application of game principles and game-design elements in non-game environments, gamification has been used in the education sector for years. But with the advancement of technology and digital learning platforms, elements of gamification can now be incorporated into both physical and virtual classrooms more easily.
Whether that means using compelling narratives, fun challenges that get increasingly more difficult, or even mastery in the form of “leveling up” as motivation, gamification can have an incredibly positive impact on young chemists in terms of improved knowledge retention, as well as the development of a more positive mindset towards a lifetime of learning.
As we move towards a post-pandemic world, new learning methods and environments used throughout COVID-19 are likely here to stay. When it comes to chemistry teachers and students alike, it’s important to remember that traditional learning combined with innovative technologies will be the best way to achieve their academic goals in the future.