By Jenny Xiong, Education Marketing
Because of COVID-19, many schools have accelerated a process that’s been slowly unfolding for years: classroom digitalization. Remote learning has taken the world by storm, growing in interest by a hundred-fold (according to Google Trends). Although remote learning comes with its own set of issues, a digital classroom may be one of 2020’s trends that sticks around. In fact, many universities and other educational institutes have already made the decision to conduct the Fall semester online. In preparation for this new normal, there are a few key steps that schools can take in their journey to becoming fully digitized, and Foxit is here to offer aid at every step of the way. First and foremost, the most important step to take is:
Boosting digital equity.
In order for classrooms to go fully digital, it makes sense for all students to have access to a digital device first. In light of COVID-19, school districts have quickly adapted by buying their students laptops and tablets in place of the usual papers and pens. Even before this recent crisis, the Milford Public School District in Massachusetts was able to pull off a digital transformation in just 18 months, and that would not have been possible without deploying more than three thousand laptops to its students and staff. A great example of a device commonly used by school districts is the Chromebook, with enough features to be a useful education tool and built sturdily enough to withstand constant student use.
With the hardware distributed, there is still a goldmine of software for students to utilize in their learning. For example, Foxit’s PhantomPDF Online and FoxitMobile app are compatible on Chromebook, making it easy to access, edit, and transport documents anywhere. With these tools at every student’s hands, it’s now possible to make the next move:
Printing is expensive. Textbooks even more so. Every year, schools consume millions of sheets of paper that, best case scenario, ends up in the recycling bin just a few days later. Textbooks also provide headaches for staff and students alike at every step of the way, from distributing thousands of books every term to carrying them around to maintaining such large inventories of depreciating products.
Going paperless could easily eliminate all these troubles and add unexpected bonuses. A PDF textbook is weightless and easily accessible from anywhere with a device and comes with the boon of being text-searchable. No more paper cuts from flipping through hundreds of pages looking for one single passage—students can easily jump to the section they need with the search option.
Homework and handouts can also be distributed (and recollected) far more conveniently. With PDF editors, students can receive digital copies of assignments and fill them out right on the sheet itself. Forms can also be digitized with the use of the electronic signature. One such software is Foxit’s PhantomPDF, of which the online version has been made free for the education sector through September if teachers and students want to give that a try at the start of fall. The Foxit PDF Reader Mobile app can also be utilized by students to scan multiple pages of handwritten homework and submit them as a single file.
With all these convenient tools and more, it becomes important to move onto the next step:
Training educators to be tech-savvy.
More than ever the internet offers a wealth of resources to supplement learning. Teachers can be trained in the use of online modules and interactive edutainment to enrich their students’ experience. Simultaneously, teachers must be aware of the setbacks of the internet and take steps towards preventing cheating and other unsanctioned behavior. For example, sites like Turnitin offer a tool to check for plagiarism. Of course, basic knowledge of Microsoft Office also goes the distance in creating course materials and organization (veterans of the digital art could also use plugins for PhantomPDF to streamline the flow of documents from Office to Outlook to out into the classroom). Tech-savvy educators will also be better at handling more advanced tasks, such as ensuring:
The ease at which information is shared online can be a double edged sword. Confidentiality can become a huge issue when it comes to sensitive documents and information. Luckily, with modern PDF technology, staff can take measures in ensuring that everything is airtight. Viewing privileges prevent documents from being opened by the wrong party, while digital signatures are secured by encryption and stamped with a time of signing. At the administrative level, the ability to redact information also becomes a crucial tool. PhantomPDF offers the option to safely remove sensitive information with the click of a button. Essential administrative functions can now be carried in a much more streamlined and convenient fashion.
While we can expect many aspects of life to eventually return to what it was before the coronavirus outbreak, digital classrooms may be one of the things that will go from being the new normal to just the normal. It’s never too late to adjust to life in the technological era, and Foxit is here to help.