Technology for Educators | Education Researchers

The future of education: how the COVID-19 pandemic influenced technology

By Michelle Casey

18 Jan 2023

Students wearing face masks at school.

What does the future hold for education? We take a look at how the pandemic has influenced technology and changed the face of education online and in the classroom.

Education before the pandemic

Before the outbreak of the global pandemic, education in the UK made reasonable use of technology.

The use of technology in the classroom varied from school to school: in many, learners already had access to their own iPad. A number of secondary schools had a policy of allowing learners to bring their own laptops or iPads from home.

Some subjects lent themselves to the use of technology more than others, but it was not solely relied upon: it was an option, an option that may have been used more readily by tech-savvy teachers or tech-proficient learners. After all, getting your head around a new app or a new platform and then using it to enhance learning is time-consuming and, as we are all too aware, excess time is not something many teachers have at their disposal.

How has teaching changed since COVID-19?

As schools shut down in March 2020, and it became clear that this wasn’t to be a short-lived situation, there was a dramatic shift towards online teaching and learning. Schools started to rely on resources such as Oak National Academy, BBC Bitesize and YouTube. Teachers began recording themselves providing a lesson input or giving an explanation and made it digitally available to their students. They also taught live lessons using platforms such as Google Meet and Zoom.

As we have emerged blinking into an ever-evolving post-COVID world, some of the shifts regarding technology, which were accelerated by the pandemic, have proven they are here to stay:

  • Students have become more tech-savvy and are more confident using tablets and the internet.
  • Teachers have become more proficient in using technology to enhance teaching and learning.
  • Setting homework no longer means ‘death by worksheet’; teachers are more likely to set online tasks and activities.
  • Communication with parents has become easier and more efficient, using platforms such as Google Classroom to send newsletters, class letters, general information and homework.
  • Parents’ evenings and workshops/curriculum meetings can run both virtually and face-to-face; this provides more flexibility for parents, making it easier for them to attend.
  • For parents who cannot attend, workshops and meetings can often be recorded so they still have access to this information.
  • The pandemic highlighted learners who didn’t have access to technology at home. Many were given laptops by their schools, helping to shine a light on this issue and take the necessary steps to remedy one aspect of the attainment gap.

The changes outlined above vary from school to school, of course.

Blended learning: the new normal

After a boost in tech proficiency throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools are retaining a blended learning approach now that classes are once again in person.

What is blended learning?

Blended learning combines live, in-person teaching and interactions between student and teacher with learning that takes place away from the direct presence of the class teacher.

This collaborative approach to education often incorporates a variety of learning experiences which take place in a range of learning spaces - including outside.

While blended learning includes online learning and activities, it can also involve research tasks, discussions, project work and practical opportunities that do not require a digital device.

What technology is used in blended learning?

Sourcing the right technology is influential when it comes to engaging learners in blended learning.

Office 365

Many schools use this digital learning platform as it gives teachers and students the ability to work together in real time. Learning materials and teaching resources are readily accessible, bringing the classroom to life remotely.

Bedrock Learning’s curricula

Throughout the pandemic, Bedrock offered schools access to the deep-learning vocabulary curriculum. Now that Bedrock’s curriculum has expanded, teachers not only use the vocabulary curriculum but also prioritise explicit grammar instruction and subject-specific vocabulary.

Google Classroom

Google Classroom is a learning management system where teachers can upload and organise learning material.

Class Dojo

The classroom management software, Class Dojo, may be used to make lessons or activities more interactive and engaging for learners.

Times Tables Rockstars

Times Tables Rockstars is another commonly used app in primary schools. It is used to rehearse and consolidate times tables practice.

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Space for collaborative learning

Blended learning delivers the space and opportunity for learners to work effectively with their peers to achieve common goals.


Learners can both provide and receive feedback through various communication and assessment tools. This may include spaces that facilitate brainstorming, document editing, and remote presentations of topics.

Finholt and Teasey (1998) found that computer-mediated groups generated more ideas during brainstorming tasks, experienced more even participation among group members, and had less “social loafing,” where some group members work less hard in a group than they would on their own, perhaps due to the electronic trail of their work.

With the average number of words said per student per day in school being four, boosting learners’ involvement is essential for improving attainment, and educational technology has been found to support this.


Google Classroom provides space for children who are working remotely to ask for peer or teacher support. If they are not sure how to complete a task, they simply type this concern in and soon they’ll receive instruction from the teacher or suggestions from their peers. This helps to remove an element of the isolation of remote learning, making the remote classroom accessible and communicative.

Assessment methods have changed

In many schools, headteachers report that teachers are using a variety of assessment tools to monitor learners’ online work.

Many teachers have incorporated a range of strategies into their online lessons to increase learners’ engagement and provide immediate feedback to support learning. These include online low-stake quizzes, portfolios of work, plenary exit tickets and gamified learning programs.

These strategies have the added benefit that they help reduce exam anxiety among learners, as tracking learners’ progress can be done through continuous data instead of formal assessments.

What are the benefits of blended learning?

Blended learning can be hugely beneficial through the range of opportunities it presents learners.

1. Student engagement

Blended learning facilitates learning that takes place in both alternative environments and alternative ways. This change in pace and location can aid in keeping learners engaged and motivated.

Bukky Yusuf, a senior leader at an independent secondary school in north London that specialises in special needs, worried that the lack of active, hands-on activities involved in switching to a more EdTech-driven curriculum would negatively impact her students and their engagement levels. However, she found that technology helped her learners to engage, gain more control over their learning and work in ways that suited their needs.

Yusuf also found that a virtual learning set-up helped in minimising anxieties for some students, as they had more control over how to engage and when.

2. Responsiveness

Blended learning allows for instant diagnostic information and feedback for learners. Students’ work can be quickly analysed and reviewed with feedback given, which means that educators can tailor their teaching methods to meet the needs of each student.

3. Reduced barriers

Blended learning can help to reduce barriers that are often encountered in education. It is a valuable approach for different types of learners, some of which include visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learners. In this way, blended learning can meet a variety of educational needs.

Barriers are also reduced between the home and school environment in a blended learning approach. The way blended learning manages the assessment of learning and feedback provided, supports and highlights the achievements of the learners, both at home and in school.

In addition to facilitating different learning styles, the ability to engage with home learning makes schooling more accessible to learners with special educational needs, who may have otherwise suffered from extended absences. This is especially beneficial for learners with autoimmune disorders that may need extended sick leave from school, as well as learners with mobility issues.

4. Students can learn at their own pace

With blended learning, students have more opportunities to work through the material at their own pace. Just as their learning styles may differ, so too can the rate at which they absorb and retain information and concepts. Through a blended learning approach, students can revisit the material to consolidate their learning as often as required.

This also helps learners to foster independence in how they learn and to take more ownership, a skill which will serve them well as they move further along their academic journey and into the workplace.

5. Time in class with the teacher is optimised

As learners may have access to the material before the beginning of class (in the case of a ‘flipped classroom’ blended learning model), they can take the time beforehand to become familiar with it. This means that when they are in the classroom, more time can be allocated to diving deeper into the learning material, thus optimising the time they have with the teacher. This time can be even more effective when learning outside the classroom explicitly prepares learners for teaching within it, such as using pre-teaching activities or consolidating classroom learning.

6. Facilitates a growth mindset

The modern workplace is a mixture of different working styles, locations and software. By preparing learners for the diverse working conditions of the world beyond the school gates, teachers cultivate a “growth mindset” - new technology is no longer daunting because it is new, but instead is an opportunity to progress. Learners can take ownership of their learning and consider the ways in which they work best, fostering their independence and preparing them to use their skills practically in the future.

What has changed for teachers since the pandemic?

1. Accessible sources of information

With so many digital resources accessible through technology, educators can draw on these to provide learning material for their students.

Information on student progress is also more accessible for teachers too. Many blended learning tools have the ability to track performance, such as with the rich data and reporting available on Bedrock. This allows teachers to see which methods are most effective and identify specific areas in which to target their support.

2. Supports lesson preparation

Technology does not replace teaching; it should be seen as an extension of teaching expected to enhance it. Teachers can use technology to help lighten their ever-increasing load by using it for lesson preparation.

Some software allows teachers to plan interactive lessons and create assignments that can be delivered to learners across a range of technologies. These can then be used both in and outside of the classroom environment.

As well as this, teachers can utilise software such as Google and Bedrock Mapper to find pre-made resources for use in their classroom, giving them back more time to spend actively instructing learners.

3. Adapting to new methods of teaching

While textbooks are still relevant, in reality, learners are more likely to be found using a laptop, tablet or even a smartphone to conduct the necessary research to support their studies - and significantly more so as a result of the pandemic.

Children’s attention has shifted massively towards the use of technology as an outlet for a variety of needs, from entertainment purposes down to general curiosity and guidance. Powered by software and apps on interactive touchscreens, lessons can be delivered in a much more engaging manner.

As much as technology can, at times, help to lighten the teacher’s load a little, adapting to these new methods is time-consuming. Many teachers feel that with the implementation of numerous new digital tools, their workload has increased. Despite the rapid changes brought by the pandemic, some teachers may still feel less proficient than others with new technology, which can feel daunting in a changing teaching environment.

The next step beyond opening the floodgates to technology in the classroom is being selective about the effectiveness of that technology, picking and choosing the resources that will truly save teachers time and support learning - that is not to say this will be without trial and error.

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What can we expect from educational technology in the future?

The use of technology in school can often divide opinions. It can be seen as ‘just one more thing to do’. However, when implemented well, educational technology has the capacity to transform educational experiences, allowing teachers to spend more time and energy on things that make an impact on student outcomes.

In the future, education trends will ride the wave of increased internet capabilities and advances in technology, making these more accessible in a classroom environment.

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) look set to be two major developments in the next wave of upcoming EdTech.

Augmented reality devices enhance real-world materials - for example, making a map jump off a page.

Virtual reality devices create a digital world where learners can be immersed and have interactions that enhance the learning experience in an innovative way. In the future, it may be the case that the “classroom” element of teaching is also online, just in a virtual classroom!

Take a look at the meta-verse, for example: the new developments in virtual meetings amongst workplaces eagerly adopting a work-from-home approach are a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Assistive technology for SEND

Furthermore, assistive technology for learners with disabilities looks to continue to empower these students and offer them more independence in school. Assistive technology devices allow the use of alternative input devices, e.g., modified keyboards or cursors that can be manipulated by foot. While remote learning has already improved access to education for some learners with SEND, changes in the future could allow these learners to access classroom learning equally to their peers, boosting their progress.

Recommendations set out in the EdTech Vision 2025 Interim Report (put together by the EdTech Advisory Forum and EdTech UK), highlight the importance of “continued investment in digital assistive technology for all young people”. If this is to be followed, we can expect to see an increase in the development of technologies designed for learners with SEND.

Certain changes implemented by EdTech, such as human narration in Bedrock Learning, have been found to support learners with special educational needs - in the future, these accessibility measures may become a built-in part of the average classroom, providing learners with different needs the same access to education. The Interim Report also calls for more focus on digital learning and education technology as part of teacher training programmes. We can only hope this rolls out to include dedicated, robust, realistic training for currently serving teachers too.

How Bedrock Learning supports learning remotely or in the classroom

As a digital learning tool, Bedrock Learning played an instrumental role in providing effective literacy instruction throughout the pandemic.

However, now that learning has returned to the classroom, teachers and schools around the world are continuing to implement blended learning by linking Bedrock to the classroom.

Vocabulary and grammar instruction

Bedrock’s digital literacy curriculum uses individualised learning to teach vocabulary and grammar.

Learners complete an initial low-stakes assessment and are placed into content blocks that suit them best. From there, teaching videos, gamified activities, and recap and mastery tasks ensure learning is retained long-term. Learners gain points as they progress through Bedrock's core curriculum, allowing them to win badges, certificates, and even a Chromebook with our Bedrock Stars prize draw!

In addition to this, teachers can track progress through their dashboard, giving teaching staff visibility of learners’ achievements - this informs teaching in the classroom.

Disciplinary literacy

With over 120,000 unique activities across 20,000 Bedrock-created Tier 2 and 3 words, Bedrock Mapper supports teachers across the curriculum to implement a vocabulary strategy. For content-heavy subjects, finding the time to teach subject-specific vocabulary explicitly can be difficult, and maintaining a consistent strategy is even trickier.

With the help of Bedrock Mapper’s created content and sequencing tools, teachers in every subject can support classroom teaching with vocabulary instruction online. This approach to blended learning boosts learners’ comprehension of new material and prioritises literacy in every subject.

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