How education apps can be the saving grace for schools and universities

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Businesses have endured relatively better than Schools and universities in terms of avoiding complete shutdowns, whilst only maintaining an absolute minimum number of staff to allow work flow and the usage of apps such as Zoom that made work from home feasible. Many businesses that have survived the uncertainty of the pandemic have found different methods to successfully ward off negative impacts of the pandemic at workplaces with the help of furloughs, layoffs, cut downs and suspension of unnecessary operations and healthy amount of luck.

On the contrary, classrooms around the world are crumbing down due to the pandemic which hasn’t been observed in a 100 years. Even after eight months of grueling mess that the world is in right now, many countries are still figuring out how to engage with the risks that are associated with reopening schools without igniting another wave of outbreaks on top of existing cases and death counts that are already maxing out hospital capacities on daily basis.

Schools are reopening in some countries that flattened the curve (BBC), but there is no guarantee that students and teachers are going to be completely safe when the schools do get reopened before a vaccine comes into existence for COVID-19. That being said, the normal way of life would be completely disturbed, if schools continued to stay closed for the major part of next year or until it is safe to go out again without having to wear a mask. All that being said, fall term is here and pupils have already geared up for “back to school” and unlike business that survived, there is still no safety assurance from the current pandemic.

To avoid another grim scenario, governments should be rather focus on aiding companies that develops education apps and expedite the integration of education apps in satisfying the needs of the schools to widely enable online classes and ease the impact of coronavirus on schools via the use Education apps. It would at least keep things moving at some pace without having to completely shut down schools and universities. Despite its apparent disadvantages, using apps for the time being seems to be the only way forward for schools to continue in a safe manner until a vaccine is invented.

Currently Zoom has taken over most of schools and universities around the world (Edweek). However, it is not a perfect tool as it was originally meant for business communication and it may not be the best tool to be utilized by students and teachers at schools especially in terms of security. The below user possession graph taken from App Ape shows the precise moment when it began to explode in user possession in multiple countries. It is also when schools adopted Zoom to maintain online classes.

There are other apps that have more or less the same functionality but are way more useful for school communication, as they were specifically designed to be safely used at schools. That being said, these apps haven’t reached the same level of recognition as Zoom in terms of adoption rates. So, there is still room for improvement and expansion for these below apps.

USA

Despite having the largest total number of COVID-19 cases, the United States has already reopened schools in some states and is now facing several issues with reopening schools too soon. Some states that have reopened in early August have seen cases of outbreaks and had to be shut down again temporality to avoid any further increase in the number of cases. (TheCut). And states that have flattened the curve are now facing dilemma regarding reopening the schools.

According to TexasTribune, “After a midsummer surge of COVID-19 cases pushed some Texas hospitals to the brink, the state’s coronavirus numbers improved in August, with statewide hospitalizations falling to their lowest point in two months. Public health experts say they are encouraged by the trend but fear the state may see another surge as more schools and universities across Texas begin reopening for the fall”.(TexasTribune).

Apparently, four out of top five education apps in the USA in App Ape’s ranking chart are focused specifically on accompanying school courses.

Each of these apps have gained up to 6 to 13 million user possession and up to 2 to 4 million active users in the recent months. It is an understatement to say that these apps are helpful in alleviating impact of COVID-19 on students and teachers while allowing them to pursue with the school courses safely.

India

India now has virtually the largest daily number of cases with + 80,000 cases per day (The Guardian), the highest number of cases per day among any other country. On that account, there is no chance that it can reopen schools with tens of thousands of active cases being recognized every day. However, the Indian government is trying to save the economy with strategic phases that is meant to slowly reopen transportation in cities, but schools and colleges are still under lockdown at this time (NationalHerald).

This is where education apps comes into play. India has one of the largest groups of school and university students and enabling them to use education apps rather than having them to return to schools will not only encourage continuation of school courses but also saves lives in the process. However, the above chart of active users in the education category indicates that 2 of top 5 apps (Google classroom and Diksha) are the only platforms for school education.

More of such apps in different local languages are necessary in order to facilitate government and private schools alike where they can be strictly integrated into school programs. So that the foreseeable future for students in India would not be as uncertain as it is at the moment.

Japan

Although the total number of cases are not as high as they are in the above mentioned countries, clusters of outbreaks have already broken in Japan after schools were reopened (NHK). On top of that, online abuse on students who were infected with coronavirus has been an ongoing issue on social media (Mainichi).

To tackle these issues, complete utilization of education apps in schools that facilitate online classes while providing a safe and secure environment for the students must be realized as quickly as possible for preventing any further rise in the number of cases in students as well as teachers. More emphasis on security of those apps can help avoid online abuse as well.

In the above chart Google Classroom is again leading the chart and another education app in this list is study supplement which is currently in the 5th position is perfectly suited for school communication. The more emphasis governments and public administrations puts on development and integration of education apps, the quicker students and teachers can carry on with their school and university curriculum and avoid outbreaks.

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