This is a brief set of tips to help your school survive in the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only limited to a specific technology but also focused on the economic impact of your school. This is how your school will survive COVID-19 pandemic.
I always like to begin putting in context the post. Well, from January 2020 started to spread the news about a new corona-virus brother of the so feared SARS (SARS-CoV-1). From China we saw a lot of videos of people falling to the ground and dying in the streets.
A lot of countries begun to close their air, water and ground space borderlines to stop the spread of this strange and lethal virus. The first activities stopped were the educational, tourism, entertainment. Then other public activities where big numbers of concentrated people got together were included in the closure.
March came and the measures were strictly hardened to avoid the spread of the virus. A lot of schools were closed and now the parents have a new role: Full time teachers. Parents became teachers because, the schools were not prepared for a remote-only scenario.
April just flew and May entered as lightning fast as you can’t imagine. 4-5 months from the closure (depending on where you are reading from) a lot of schools doesn’t have a remote idea from where to start. Yes, because despite what government says or what the media says, the certain is We still do not know when it will be safe to attend physically to school or the university.
The technology: An ally
Let’s focus on how technology can help your school to get out of this without going to bankrupt. We Identify several activities in the learning process that needs response:
- Work assignment and tracking
- Collaboration (sharing content, books, notes, etc.)
- Communication (visual or audiovisual)
- Feedback (from Teacher to student)
Since there are several options in the market for covering the needs of each process the truth is that it may cost, a lot by the way. But depending on your school size, I’ll try to put you on a track so you can start implementing gradually or by stages. Here few solutions from Learning Management Systems (LMS) to collaboration and Video conference software:
Learning Management Systems
|Work assignment||Provide easy to use assignment structure and allow the teacher to have freedom with the assignment.||Robust and intuitive work assignment process for both, teacher and student||Robust and intuitive work assignment process for both, teacher and student|
|Collaboration||It has several weakness in this process it depends more on third party plugins to achieve certain level of collaboration.||It has natively collaboration||The collaboration in this LMS is quite confusing, some cases depends on third party plugins others doesn’t|
|Communication||It doesn’t comes with a native communication system or video conference solution, it depends on third party plugins.||With the module BB Collaborate it allows you to communicate, take attendance and have a fluid communication process.||It doesn’t comes with a native communication system or video conference solution, it depends on third party plugins.|
|Feedback||This solution comes with a native feedback system for all assignments.||This solution comes with a native feedback system for all assignments.||This solution comes with a native feedback system for all assignments.|
|Cost||Moodle is open source (free) but depending on the number of users (teachers and students) you’ll need an infrastructure to run and support moodle, also you’ll need at least one professional dedicated to maintain secure and updated your environment and more hidden costs.||Blackboard is expensive, but comparing to other solutions you will have more time and opportunity to take advantage of its rich features, because this is a SaaS. A lot of schools transfers the cots to students fees.||It varies on size, modules and the schools who needs the solution but it could be cheaper than Blackboard when it comes to costs, also since this offers a SaaS scheme you can transfer the costs to students fees.|
|Overall Comment||If you are looking for a hassles free approach, this is not definitively your solution, it could look cheaper bout could be expensive.||If you are looking for quality and performance without having a local IT department working for it, this is your solution.||If you are looking for a hassles free solution based on the cloud and with minor IT intervention this is our solution.|
Communication and collaboration
|Collaboration||This is one of the strongest point of this solution: The collaboration. It looks well designed to share and allow others to contribute to help your work run smoothly.||Not collaboration at all.||Slack is fluid and robust when it comes to collaboration, it allows you to maintain thinks well organized and fast to find when you need it.|
|Communication||Voice and video calls allows to save the call and share inside your organization.||This is the best thing zoom has, it also offers mobile, desktop and browser experience almost the same across device.||Slack communication is quite simple but good enough to keep your work on track.|
|Pricing||Teams comes inside the Microsoft 365 (before called Office 365) suscription, you could get it as low as $5/user/mo||It has a free scheme without some limitations. But the paid account could enhance the features depending on your needs.||It has a free scheme without some limitations. But the paid account for example, the standard could start as low as $6.67/mo for a team account (team of 15)|
|Overall Comment||For the benefits it represents to the entire organization I think it worth paying for a subscription, also Microsoft has education agreements which could lower this prices.||This is the best software now for video conference, it has some security flaws in the past months but now they fixed it the tool has gained a lot of adoption.||Slack has been here for a while is always cool to use it, share and collaborate with slack, a lot of education institution are using it but to me is not very clear yet the full exploitation of its potential for the education field.|
Wrapping the things up, the most important thing is not just to keep working, is working because you are offering your students quality and good content, this will allow your school survive in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finally, I think is a good start for a small school to use a SaaS LMS solution because depending on the size it will allow the institution to grow and the software will grow with it, giving freedom and quality to the process itself.
For communicating and videoconferencing in the school field BB collaborate is the best tool, it is designed for education, you will not find anything better for your school. But the main problem is the cost, some school can’t afford it, but, then here enters Zoom which offers their free scheme and low cost for basic plans.
If you are going for collaborating and if you can afford Microsoft 365 for your organization is the best value/cost relation you can achieve in the market. Microsoft have been doing a good work integrating all their software to become what it is today: A collaborative ecosystem.
You may also be interested in reading: