Three Ways Technology is Helping Education Deal with Covid-19

The Covid pandemic has highlighted many strengths and weaknesses within our educational information systems. We are being forced to react, share information, and make consequential decisions much faster and on a much wider scale than ever before - which requires a level of information agility that many are struggling to deliver.

Organizations must act fast, with minimum expectations on IT, utilizing the power of cloud and easy to use, effective tools - All this, why still maintaining the underlying control and auditability required by any public office.

Thankfully there are several examples that show not only great use of technology, but also highlight the incredible resilience of humankind in a crisis.


1. Mobilizing a workforce

In emergency situations many new teams will need to be assembled and deployed quickly. These teams could be medical response teams, crisis hotline teams to check on the welfare of high risk students, even teachers or tutors needing to collaborate on delivering remote lessons.

Irrespective of the type of team, they will all need some combination of people who need to be:

  • Recruited
  • Onboarded
  • Kept regularly informed
  • Trained to work in a hazardous environment where they are at risk of being infected
  • And all of this in a matter of a few days, with no time available to set up a complex system


Thankfully technology is delivering solutions to help these teams with Cloud solutions that can provide 100% remote access, and be deployed in a matter of hours. These technologies, and the teams deploying them, are solving real problems.

  • Simple email-based communication tools can connect small groups of people together
  • Elegant data form collection tools can gather volunteer documents such as legal waiver, policy acknowledgement, and emergency contact information
  • Virtual learning environments can deliver complete online training solutions for volunteers, and combine with document management systems to control the validation and publication of those training procedures and safety documents
  • Information distribution tools can display the information, safety notices, and training materials in easy to access portals, via mobile or on physical screens.


2. Sharing rapidly changing information

Effective information distribution is a critical response tool that is being used in dynamically changing emergency situations. Providing ways to edit and share information, quickly and to many people, on multiple channels including websites, mobile devices or even in-house displays is key. If the information to be displayed has to be validated before being published, integration to backend process automation tools can provide the information governance behind the scenes to ensure the approval steps without losing the solution’s agility.

Solutions like these ensure that users :

a) can find information quickly when they need it and
b) that they have absolute confidence that the information is up to date and accurate

Below are a number of examples of organizations who have deployed such simple information distribution tools to enable an easy to use and rapid reaction to the coronavirus crisis. Each of these offers a small glimpse into how tech is helping across the planet to curb Covid-19:


However, an often overlooked aspect of information sharing is in relation to those with visual impairment. There are over 285 million people worldwide who are visually impaired, so making this information available to those people via accessible content is vital to ensure their safety and those of their families and friends. Thankfully technology comes to help again via tools that help ensure that content such as documents and spreadsheets are accessible for all.


3. Doing the right thing

Having technology available is one thing, but going above and beyond in a time of need is something else. Many technology companies are making software available for free during this crisis. You can find information below on some of the best tools we have come across within the education space to help manage communications, share vital information, and ensure the welfare of students, staff, and the whole community – available for FREE to educators until June 30, 2020:

AODocs
AODocs is a content services platform to modernize information management. In light of OSHA’s recent announcement that COVID-19 cases should be reported in accordance with their Injury and Illness Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements, AODocs is offering the Crisis Outreach App free of charge for 90 days to anyone who signs up before April 30, 2020. Find out more here.

Awesome Table
Allows any business user to easily display spreadsheet data in a more visually attractive form - with interactive filters, full text search, and publication to website or intranet.

Form Publisher
Enables simple set up of form and document workflows to automatically generate formatted sick leave requests, supplies requests, help requests, authorizations, registrations and much more.

Grackle Docs
Grackle Suite™ is the only Add-ons for Google Docs, Sheets & Slides that checks, remediates and creates output from G Suite to make it accessible for blind and visually impaired users of screen readers.

Playengo
A user-friendly, digital signage solution that allows you to publish your content on any screen in a snap, ensuring your screens are always up to date.

YAMM
YAMM allows anyone to send and track targeted email campaigns using just their Gmail account and a Google Sheet.