Moving to virtual classrooms: Here’s how EdTechs can help
Over the past few weeks, I have been inspired by the vast community of education technology (EdTech) companies who have stepped up to transform learning for millions of students around the world. During this unprecedented time of temporary and sustained school closings, virtual classrooms have become a necessity to ensure that teachers and students stay connected, and students continue their education.
As educators are exploring the best ways to communicate with their students online, parents are grappling with turning their living rooms into classrooms, while learning institutions at all levels are faced with finding solutions to expedite the migration from the traditional classroom to remote learning. Luckily there are a number of EdTechs in the AWS Partner Network (APN) who focus on helping educational institutions to make that transition, and we are all here to help.
For years, AWS has been working with our EdTech APN Partners to help K12 and higher education institutions streamline and simplify the deployment of innovative teaching and learning technologies, and this expertise will help tackle the challenges they face today. In addition, AWS is increasing capacity for virtual office hours to support education administrators and leaders. Through our virtual office hours, educators can reach out to a team of AWS solutions architects and experts who are available by request to provide technical guidance and help schools to establish remote learning environments, as well as navigate the selection process for resources.
Whether schools need tools to keep administration offices, educators, and students connected, or need to deploy learning management systems, our EdTech Partners have a number of solutions. The following represent a select number of APN Partners that have achieved AWS Education Competency status, demonstrating industry expertise, customer success, and offering solutions that align with AWS best practices specific to teaching and learning applications.
- Alfresco Content Services: Alfresco Software, an open source content services provider, enables education institutions to manage, connect, protect, and distribute education materials, textbooks, training courses, videos, and exams to K12, higher education, professional training, and libraries globally.
- Blackboard: Blackboard is the largest education technology and services company in the world, serving millions of users in countries in every region around the globe. Through the Blackboard Ally, Blackboard Collaborate, and Blackboard Learn solutions, the company helps institutions build more inclusive learning environments with usability, accessibility and quality in mind, creates one-click virtual classrooms and online collaboration tools, and holistic digital education platforms to help instructors and learners succeed. During the COVID-19 outbreak, Blackboard has prepared online training workshops and a resource page to help educators and staff prepare to scale online teaching and learning.
- Brightspace by D2L: D2L has a modern cloud platform for education with the necessary scalability to support the transition of millions of learners online. The impact of COVID-19 on the way we live, learn, and work is evolving daily. During this time D2L is offering a free course that weaves together the scientific, social, and economic perspectives of the current COVID-19 global pandemic, as well as providing additional resources. Through D2L’s Brightspace platform, many schools are already using the company’s education technology for remote instruction and to ensure continuity of learning in this critical time. For schools that need support quickly moving to remote learning, D2L is offering a Quick Start Care Package to reduce barriers to implementing online learning.
- Echo360: Echo360 is a video content management platform that transforms campus, online, and hybrid courses into highly-engaged learning communities. Echo360 combines video, engagement, and analytics into one unified experience that measurably increases student success. Instructors can capture video, record instruction, and engage students in new ways with interactive activities tied to content. Educators can access Echo360’s academic continuity guide for support delivering remote instruction or contact the company at echo360.com/contact/ for more information.
- eThink LMS Solutions: eThink Education provides a fully-managed eLearning solution to empower organizations to maximize their learning initiatives. eThink Education provides a high-touch, unlimited support, and cloud-hosted solution for open-source learning management systems. In addition to custom content solutions, eThink offers learning management and eLearning trainings through eThink Academy. To assist educators during this time, eThink put together a COVID-19 eLearning resources page that includes tips for the transition to remote learning, technology that can assist, COVID-19 content and courses, and more.
- Canvas by Instructure: Canvas is a SaaS-based learning management system that can automatically scale to address the increased needs of schools dealing with COVID-19 or other situations that might require an institution to move to a remote teaching model. The Canvas Learning Management Platform allows schools to build the digital learning environment that meets their unique challenges. Teachers can create free accounts to use the essential functionality of the Canvas learning management platform, even if their institutions aren’t a Canvas customer. There is also a community page that offers guidance on remote learning to help during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Remind: Remind is a communication platform that helps teachers reach students and families where they are: their phones. Teachers can use Remind to share updates and resources via text message and smartphone app, while the Remind plan helps administrators support communication across their organizations. For schools transitioning to remote learning, a resource page is available with best practices to help teachers use their free Remind accounts for online instruction.
- Schoology: Schoology brings together a K12 learning management system with assessment management to improve student performance, foster collaboration, and personalize learning. Schoology, as part of PowerSchool, helps schools and districts efficiently manage instruction, assessment, communication, and collaboration. To support the education community at this time, Schoology created a “Distance Learning Readiness Kit” to prepare educators for virtual instruction and put together multiple offers, including a free self-service enterprise offering for select customers through the end of the year, to help expand educators’ access to their learning management platform.
- Watermark for Education: Watermark provides educational intelligence systems that help colleges and universities gain insights into student learning so that they can improve the quality of educational programs, assess institutional effectiveness, and streamline the accreditation process. Now more than ever, higher education needs reliable processes and data it can trust. Watermark solutions support key campus initiatives including learning outcomes management, assessment and accreditation planning, course evaluations and surveys, curriculum and catalog management, and faculty activity reporting. To help customers navigate COVID-19, Watermark created a resource page.
As we navigate the coming days and weeks, it is important for schools at all levels to have access to education technology that can be implemented quickly and help build engaging learning environments for students. AWS and our APN Partners are here to support K12 and higher education institutions provide meaningful digital learning experiences.
To connect directly with APN Partners that have achieved the AWS Education Competency designation, visit the AWS Education Partner Solutions website. For more information about Amazon’s actions to support those directly and indirectly impacted by COVID-19, visit Amazon’s Day One Blog and Jeff Barr’s Blog. For overall education resources, visit the AWS Education website.