Education Is Headed for the Metaverse

You can’t avoid hearing about the metaverse these days – this relatively new conception is impacting how we envision the future of retail, travel, social media, and of course, education. Still in its infancy, when and how the metaverse will revolutionize education is difficult to predict. But the vision is there.

How Will the Metaverse Impact Education?

There is no question that the metaverse will impact education. What we experienced during the height of the pandemic, with students and teachers being forced into virtual spaces for learning, has only highlighted how important it is to embrace technology. And as jobs of the future require more technical knowledge, we must ensure that students have the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art technology, to better prepare them to be part of the modern workforce. But because the metaverse is still under construction, so to speak, an opportunity exists for education leaders to help ensure the metaverse serves schools and students properly.

Educators Can Lead the Way

In an exciting look at education in the metaverse from Brookings, the authors point out, “Today, as the metaverse infrastructure is still under construction, researchers, educators, policymakers, and digital designers have a chance to lead the way rather than get caught in the undertow.” They paint a picture of interactive, multidisciplinary, cross-curricular education that immerses students directly into the environment about which they are learning. The authors of the Brookings research note that, “the interaction is inherently social with live people and live moment to moment, emotionally laden interactions. And notice that the teachers are still crucial to this experience.”

Experiences in the Metaverse Affect Our Brains Differently

Why is the metaverse such an important consideration for education? Because the learning is active, rather than passive. The learning creates memories for the students of actually being in a place. The Brookings research used ancient Greece as an example, but any historical location could have just as easily been used, or an astronomical phenomenon, or a field trip somewhere that a school could never afford to budget (The Louvre, for example). Stephen Fromkin writes in a Fast Company article, “Interactions in the metaverse give us the impression that we are having real experiences and creating real memories – because we are.”

But What About Measurable Outcomes?

We will hopefully move well beyond standardized testing and measure student success in more practical ways. One form of measurement is engagement. Imagine students being excited about education, being able to interact with figures from history, and being able to step into places from a distance – to touch, feel, and look around while there. A good example of rudimentary AI that is paving the way for education in the metaverse is the Digital Einstein Experience. Try it out. With a simple permission to use your microphone, you can have a conversation with Einstein, and he will respond to your questions.

The metaverse is coming. It is an inevitability. How it will impact education is still up in the air, but we have a huge opportunity to help guide the process to ensure we are meeting the needs of students, teachers, and districts as it becomes more commonplace.

Is Education Focused on the Wrong Skills?

Most students don’t like school. And it’s not the fault of teachers but rather of the insistence that we teach the same old tired things to students who already have access to vast and immediate information on a variety of subjects. What students do need to learn are critical thinking skills that will prepare them for opportunities that lie ahead.

The 2021 NACE survey on the most-needed attributes employers are looking for include the following:

  • Ability to work in a team
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Analytical and quantitative skills
  • Communication skills (verbal and written)
  • Initiative
  • Leadership
  • Technical skills
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Strong work ethic

Not one of the employers surveyed listed the date or contents of the Gettysburg address, or the year in which Hawaii became a state, as critical knowledge.

We Need to Move Education from the Industrial Revolution to the Technological Revolution

Garrett Smiley, co-founder and CEO of Sora Schools, a network of future-focused schools, wrote in a recent Forbes article,

There is cognitive dissonance of obsessing over the knowledge of facts during a child’s school years while simultaneously dismissing their importance shortly thereafter. As a result, students are left to believe they’re not made for school when, in reality, schools were not made for them. An educational system built for the Industrial Revolution no longer fits our modern-day needs.

Smiley offers some basic, common-sense ways we can improve education, suggesting we focus on the needs of the students, encourage them to “chase [their] wild dreams,” and scrap our grading system and our obsessive focus on teaching to tests and measuring worth (of teachers and students) through standardized test results.

We couldn’t agree more.

Connecting All Students to Opportunity through Technology and Leadership

Our mission, connecting all students to opportunity through technology and leadership, is more than just words. In fact, everything we do and every decision we make, from the solutions we develop to the strategic partnerships we form to the community support we provide, is in line with our mission. We firmly believe that connecting students to opportunity is a fundamentally important goal. We believe that these pillars of technology and leadership are what will help guide us through the education revolution that is so desperately needed.

We need more voices like Garrett Smiley’s who recognize the undue burden placed on teachers, often put there by legislators who have never spent a day in a classroom outside their own time as students back in the days of chalkboards.

The Future of Education Is Now

The students now in school will grow up in a world unlike that which any of us have ever known. What we do now to prepare them is essential. It’s time to upend education and focus on what students need to know to survive and thrive in a fast-paced, tech-driven world.

Redefining Education in the K-12 Setting

The ongoing pandemic has forced a reckoning in education on three fronts: equity, teacher retention, and technology. We must address all three of these areas as we redefine education – and we must redefine education if we want to continue meeting student, teacher, and community needs. We’ve discussed equity and retention in previous blogs, so we’ll focus mostly on using technology to redefine K-12 education here.

Why Equity Is Necessary for Redefining Education

In order for education to serve our communities, the issue of equity must be addressed. Not only should broadband be accessible to every home, and devices be made available to every student, but we must also address digital competency. Improving digital competency may seem like an odd thing to worry about within this digital native generation, but when more than 10 million US students are still without adequate internet at home, their ability to achieve digitally competency is compromised. This often extends to their parents as well, which gives local schools a perfect opportunity to provide adult education programs.

Teacher Retention Is Crucial to Student Academic Success

Teachers are more stressed than ever. But they’re not quitting in droves – yet. The Great Resignation that has impacted most other industries has yet to materialize in education, likely because the very people who choose to become educators tend to lean in and try to do more, until they burn out completely.  But you can still retain top educators and prevent them from not just leaving your school, but from leaving the profession as well.

To prevent the Great Resignation from affecting schools, districts need to recognize that teachers want what everyone else is looking for: professional support and development, a voice in the direction of their careers, and flexibility. These expectations will likely vary from one school district to another, but things like job sharing and matching the right teachers to in-class and online teaching opportunities will be critical. And using technology to empower teachers will be essential.

Technology Is the Future of Education

Technology will be a part of the future of education in ways we can’t even predict yet. While edtech and other technologies might have been temporary stopgap measures in the beginning of the pandemic, they are now the new norm for many schools, whether education is being delivered in-person, online, or in hybrid environments.

Lumen Touch All-in-One Management Solution

Our approach moves away from legacy systems such as SISs and towards the new world of student and enterprise management, with a strong focus on individual plans of study, project-based learning, and predictive analytics on a single secure platform.

We are one of the few companies that offer an all-in-one solution, which includes:

  • a comprehensive SIS (Bright STUDENT)
  • a special education product (Bright SPED)
  • full library and inventory management (Bright RESOURCE)
  • a student college and career management system (Bright SUCCESS)
  • an early education system (Bright STEPS)
  • a full health management system (Bright CARE)
  • a professional development management system (Bright PATH)
  • a full data management and dashboarding product (Bright INSIGHT)
  • Medicaid billing (Bright MEDICAID)
  • a full communication and learning system that incorporates social media and the ability to translate dialogue in over 70 languages (Bright SPACE)

More recently, we added a cybersecurity and auditing service module, and COVID-19 tracking and contact tracing modules.

Infrastructure Is Part of the Tech Solution

From cloud hosting to comprehensive learning management systems, the IT infrastructure of every school needs to be modernized. Infrastructure in K-12 schools should support learning, professional development, classroom management, health and safety, SEL and SPED, and communication and engagement. It should be developed to accommodate a wide variety of learning modes – online, in person, and hybrid. Robust and comprehensive cloud-based infrastructure in the K-12 education environment ensures that students, teachers, parents, and administrators have the ability to improve engagement, enhance communication, foster collaboration, and open worlds of opportunity in learning.

Lumen Touch is at the innovative forefront of developing the kind of technology that truly benefits teachers, students, and school districts. We have been providing our integrated all-in-one management technology to school districts for 18 years. To learn more about our solution, get in touch.

The Future of Teaching

Every day, we see stories about teachers who are hanging on by a thread, and we hear stories from teachers who can confirm the same and who are, worse yet, actively seeking other opportunities and will leave their careers in education. It’s not that they don’t want to be teachers, but the challenges of these past few years – on top of the many other pressures teachers face in the classrooms – have become insurmountable for some. We need to look at both how to better support educators and reduce attrition as well as look at how the education system can change to accommodate the drop in availability.

Teacher Shortages Are Growing

Throughout the country, the number of people entering the teaching profession is dropping significantly. According to the National Center for Education, education majors accounted for more than 10% of the degree candidates in 1990-1991. That number fell to 4.2% in the 2018-2019 school year. The pandemic has reduced those numbers even further. According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are teacher shortages in nearly every state for nearly every subject. A quickly generated report on general math resulted in a nine page list of teacher shortages from Wyoming to Puerto Rico.

Supporting Teachers More Effectively

Teacher turnover is damaging to students. According to research by Eric A. Hanushek, Steven G. Rivkin, and Jeffrey C. Schiman, the following impacts occur:

  • Teacher turnover negatively affects achievement despite adverse selection of leavers.
  • Experience loss and grade reassignment account for the negative turnover effects.
  • Negative turnover effects are concentrated in lower-achievement schools.

Reducing teacher attrition, then, has a direct impact on student success.

There are a number of ways we can support our teachers more effectively:

Invest in educators. Increase salaries and offer additional pay when they’re forced to manage both in-class and online students. Pay off their student loans. Cover the costs of all of their supplies; don’t make them beg the internet community to “clear the lists.”

Listen to educators. Listen to your teachers – at the school level, the district level, the state level, and the federal level. Put teachers on the committees that make decisions about policy, health, safety, and, yes, curriculum.

Provide tools for educators. Invest in technology that makes it easier for teachers to do their jobs. This means that at the state and national levels, governments need to free their budgets to invest in equity – broadband for every household, for example. At the district level, districts need to invest in smart technology that makes it easier for teachers to manage not just their teaching responsibilities but all of the other tasks they have, such as SPED reporting and SEL.

Addressing the Tech Skills Gap

There’s a huge tech skills gap. Our partners at Global Grid for Learning have identified some of the risks of not addressing this gap and the threat it represents to our economic stability:

  • Our ability to compete globally could be threatened.
  • Ransomware and phishing attacks are growing more sophisticated, resulting in the need for technically capable workers to thwart the threats to our schools, infrastructures, and businesses.
  • As AI, AR, and VR become commonplace in retail, education, healthcare, and other industries, the demand for technically proficient workers will continue to grow.

Radically Alter the Education System

It’s time for an academic overhaul. We’ve been using the same basic education system for more than a century, and we’re not keeping up. Larry Ferlazzo explores this in his two-part series on Futures Thinking. We need to change how we assess, what we teach, and how we prepare students for the workforce of the future. Lumen™ Touch is at the forefront of the education revolution. What do you want to see for the future of teaching?

Assessments, Learning Loss, and the Future of Learning

A lot of people in the education industry are talking about how the pandemic fundamentally changed education, simply because it was being delivered through a different medium.

We disagree.

If the means by which we expect students to learn is not allowed to change, then change doesn’t happen just because we vary the medium through which education is delivered. In fact, most educators, often bound by the curriculum requirements of their districts, are still teaching the same subjects in the same way with the same assessments. Just because they’re doing it online instead of in person doesn’t mean anything has fundamentally changed – and fundamental changes to education are what we really need.

We Need to Stop Focusing on Failure

If a student is excelling in music and art while failing math and science, then that doesn’t mean they’re failing as a student. It means they demonstrate exceptional skill in areas that can lead to innovation. In order to foster the true passion and talent in every student, we need to make a fundamental change in how we assess success. This point has been brought to bear on how we evaluate learning loss as a result of the pandemic. Dr. Yong Zhao explains during an interview with Dr. Wendy Oliver, published on EdisonLearning:

The pandemic has created a very unhappy environment for a lot of children. They’re isolated, they’re not going to school, and they’re not talking to friends. But at the same time, we probably should pay attention to see how they have grown. Human beings learn from experiences. These experiences have changed our children in different ways. Perhaps now they are better at handling adverse situations. They are now better at making friends online, which is essential in today’s life. Maybe your children are becoming more independent in learning? These are the types of things he stresses we really need to focus on.

Right Now, We Assess Failure and Focus on Failure

From early on in our students’ educational journeys, we focus on measuring failure. We conduct spelling and math tests and mark what they get wrong. We focus on how far beneath the average they are and we assume that wherever they are at that moment academically is where they will remain. This places an undue burden on the students and the teachers when they are forced to approach education in this way. Instead, we should be focused on the successes and strengths students have. When we focus on successes and strengths and take the time to understand a student’s passions and interests, we can find ways to improve their subject matter expertise by teaching through their passions.

Every Student Deserves to Have an IEP

Right now, the only students who qualify for an IEP (Individualized Education Program) are those students who have a disability that is recognized by the federal government. But shouldn’t every student have an individualized learning plan that is customized to meet their needs and help them achieve the best outcome?

We must be particularly cautious as we come out of the pandemic, as there is a push to assess students and determine what they’ve lost by learning from home. Brian Moon explores this in terms of the unbounded concern over learning loss. He points out that part of the problem stems from education focusing on the wrong question: “How do we help students perform better on standardized tests?” By doing this, we are forcing teachers to teach to the test and focus on teaching what students need to know to pass tests instead of engaging their minds.

Moon suggests a new question: “How do we use assessment to accelerate, deepen, and showcase individual student learning?”

How Do We Use Assessment to Accelerate, Deepen, and Showcase Individual Student Learning?

That is the question that needs to be explored as we redefine education in the twenty-first century. But in doing so, let’s focus on Moon’s point:

We need not categorize students as deficient in order to justify improving the efficiency, depth, and meaning of their learning experiences. Assessment scores are finite, but learning is limitless. When we center student growth – rather than points or percentiles – as the goal of education, we expand the possibilities for how schools can provide value.

The Future of Learning

The future of learning should be individualized. Assessments should not be used to penalize students but rather to help encourage learning. And what students learn should be modernized and revolutionized so that the students moving through the education system today are prepared to live, work, and engage in the society of tomorrow. Learn more about how Lumen Touch is contributing to the future of learning.

Are Virtual Classrooms the Future of Learning?

Students may be returning to the classroom in the fall, but technology has certainly changed not just our ability to deliver instruction but also the innovation surrounding effective education. Virtual classrooms will not go away. The possibilities are limitless! Here are some great examples of how technology is creating optimal learning experiences:

UCI Professor Goes Virtual

Grown tired of Zoom, Christina Lopes, a professor at University of California, Irvine (UCI), developed a virtual space for her students to obtain hands-on experience in her course, How Computers Work. According to a Newswise article, she helped to create a new program called OpenSimulator. Instead of sitting in a classroom learning from a textbook, students are able to see the code come to life.

Virtual Innovation Is Disrupting Every Industry

From virtual meetings, where the CEO of a company appears as a hologram in various locations around the world, to tradeshows where buyers are able to examine virtual versions of the equipment they are interested in buying, virtual and augmented reality are changing how we perceive the world and how we interact with one another. Virtual environments are enhancing virtually every industry, and education is no exception. Virtual classrooms can help educators meet the needs of more students. What started as a way to reach students when schools closed during the pandemic has revolutionized education in a way that can hopefully continue even as students return to the classroom.

Virtual Classrooms Help Bring Education into the Future

We know that a radical revolution in education is necessary in order to prepare students for the future of work. Teaching to the test and basing student advancement on their ability to regurgitate facts is no longer enough to prepare students for the workforce of the future. Virtual classrooms allow students to accelerate their tech skills, improve their soft skills, and learn how to leverage technology for their benefit.

Virtual Learning and Classrooms Can Co-Exist

No matter how students receive instruction, educators are paramount to the overall success and progress a student makes. Virtual classrooms may never fully replace in-person instruction. But virtual classrooms can be used to enhance the in-classroom experience, by allowing students to pursue individualized and customized areas of learning, thereby giving every student the opportunity to have a richer education. Virtual classrooms can also allow two teachers from different districts, states, or even countries to collaborate to deliver a richer, more diverse curriculum.

Virtual education is not the enemy of the classroom – it is an enhancement to it. And for students who have difficulty being in school every day, either due to illness, disability, or the circumstances of their home life, it can bring additional equity to your district.

What Should the Future of Learning Look Like?

When we start talking about what the future of learning should look like, we need to consider what the future of work will look like, too. What careers are we preparing our students for? What kinds of skills will they need to succeed – not just economically but in such a way as to advance the whole of society? If we look at the big picture, we need to begin developing a generation of tech-savvy innovators who can think on their feet and examine and analyze problems – all while having the flexibility to adjust to rapidly changing needs within their occupations, their communities, and society. The current education system is woefully inadequate to meet these needs.

From Cursive Writing to Coding?

Some schools still teach cursive writing while others are fighting to return it to the curriculum. But the future of learning is centered around STEM, programming, and robotics. Rather than teach cursive, perhaps we should focus on coding. It is a concept that can be introduced on a basic level in kindergarten and built upon through each year. Coding is the language of the future.

From Static Information to Information Filtering?

Today’s students are overwhelmed with information and little time is spent teaching them the skills necessary to determine what information is factual or how to verify legitimate sources. Perhaps not everyone needs to know calculus, algebra, or mitosis. But the future of learning could include teaching students how to manage the information with which they are inundated from every source – and how to filter that information. More emphasis could be placed on analytical thinking, fact-checking, researching, and recognizing manipulation.

Financial Literacy and Economics

Most Americans are carrying higher levels of debt than that which is considered wise. The pandemic and resulting unemployment have only made this worse, and as the likelihood of a recession or a depression looms, learning to manage money more effectively becomes a critical skill. From understanding the economy and the tax system to knowing how to budget, personal finance courses are a great addition to the curriculum.

Mental and Physical Health

From mental health and mindfulness to diet and exercise, schools can take a much bigger role in teaching students how to take better care of themselves and giving them the tools to do so. Removing stigma from mental health can occur when we make emotional and mental health a part of regular conversation. Making exercise a daily habit can start in kindergarten.

Self-Guided and Independent Learning

Should our schools be working hard to put themselves out of business? While we ask this in a very tongue-in-cheek manner, by recognizing the incredible value teachers and schools have, we can begin creating lifelong learners who can continue to develop their intellectual skills long after they leave school. Teaching students to have the discipline and analytical skills essential to independent learning ensures that their K-12 education is only the beginning. Learning how to learn is possibly the most critical skill any student will gain.

Networking and Relationship Building

One of the benefits of students being forced into distance learning last spring was that most students now have a new skill that can carry over into the workplace: the ability to network and collaborate online. From Zoom calls to working with students and teachers on projects from a distance to making presentations online, these are skills used in the workplace today. Should we not be teaching our students how to build relationships, collaborate, and network – and use the tools and technology that make it possible to do so regardless of distance?

We’re at a momentous point in education and going back to what once was just doesn’t make sense. Whether your district is resuming in-person instruction, remaining online, or developing some hybrid approach, it’s time to start introducing topics that will give students the tools they need to be competitive globally as they enter a workforce that will likely look completely different than anything any of us have seen.

The Future of Learning Is Now

Here at Lumen Touch, we are committed to providing the tools that schools need to deliver this kind of future-driven education. One of our latest efforts is a partnership with VEDAMO. We are integrating the VEDAMO virtual classroom into our Bright SUITE and Bright Student™ systems. This will allow teachers to pull scheduling from our systems into VEDAMO for the virtual classrooms, then grades will be imported into our gradebook from VEDAMO quizzes and assignments. Single Sign-On (SSO) will be a part of the integration.

If you’re interested in learning how Lumen Touch can help your teachers and district be ready for the future of learning, please get in touch. We’re eager to show you how we can help you save time and money while improving student engagement.

Are Teachers Unsung Heroes? Who Is Listening?

In the medical world, we have been giving a tremendous amount of praise and recognition to the doctors and nurses who have been combating the coronavirus. We are providing them with pandemic protection equipment, we are developing safety protocols, and we are paying them more to come into areas where additional help is needed.

Can we truly say we are doing the same for teachers and school staff or are we demanding they return to a work environment that will compromise their health? What are the challenges associated with going back to school? Here’s what teachers are asking about:

Many teachers are challenged with metabolic diseases, such as diabetes and obesity; respiratory diseases, such as asthma; cardiovascular diseases, such as mild heart failure; and autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis. As well, some teachers are immunocompromised patients recovering from cancer treatment or organ transplants. Do these teachers get more robust protection equipment and special assignments to reduce their risk?

So, when we go into this new world of learning, we will still be in the fog as leadership is clearly lacking when it comes to providing direction that responds to these concerns, and decision makers have different vested interests. Moreover, we have compounded the medical crisis with a social enlightening, drawing attention to mutual equity and equal education.

Our teachers have always been heroes but in most cases have gone unrecognized.

This crisis has focused a spotlight on the education system and the value of the teacher versus the institution. And guess what? The spotlight is only going to get brighter as we move into a whole new dimension of learning and unmask the travesties of our existing school systems. And this is not the time to add additional technology to fix the crisis but rather to look at what schools are trying to deliver by way of learning and realizing that their technology is not suited for the crisis and the future.

Is it reasonable to consider online-only instruction for most students?

As COVID-19 cases continue to climb in 32 states, health experts predict that schools will not truly be able to return to some semblance of normal until May or June of 2021. Knowing that, we can begin now to address the challenges of maintaining a distance-learning environment. While there were a number of hiccups in getting started with distance learning last spring, most teachers were able to overcome the challenges – as were most students. With better support to infrastructure, addressing the inequity of Wi-Fi and device access, many students can continue with distance learning. By facilitating distance learning for as many students as possible, those who really cannot remain home, whether because of financial reasons or because of special needs that require in-person therapy and guidance, can have enough space within the school facilities to be accommodated.

Lumen Touch Is Here for You – Start with our No-Cost Audit

We don’t have all the answers, but we continuously monitor the learning space and add more capability to our platform, such as integrated video and computer-based interactivity, and Covid-19 monitoring and tracking with parent, teacher, and student portals to keep everyone informed every moment of their day.

We also have a seasoned audit team that will help you find means to pay for extra costs when your budgets are being cut. This audit is at NO COST to you and has saved some districts hundreds of thousands of dollars. Get in touch to learn more.

Transforming Education Post-Pandemic

“The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn’t need to be reformed – it needs to be transformed.” – Ken Robinson, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything

Transforming education is not a new topic, and it’s something the team at Lumen Touch has been working toward for a long time. Many of the things the pandemic has forced schools to contend with are those things that should have already been in place –virtual classroom technology and comprehensive connectivity, for instance.

Education Is the Driver of Economic Development

The more educated our workforce is – the more educated our community is – the better lifestyles are going to be for all workers. Income is driven by education, as is the well-being of the citizens of a community. Unfortunately, our education system has been stagnant for decades. As a result, we have fallen to 25th in math proficiency in the world; 17th in science proficiency; and 14th in reading. To turn that around we must:

  • Transform the system
  • Personalize the learning
  • Discover the child
  • Create the environment

Teachers Should Be Engaged with Every Aspect of the Transformation

We need to start listening to the teachers.

Among all the academic stakeholders, teachers are the least likely to believe their opinions count at work. But during the pandemic, and in a post-pandemic world, teachers will be much like frontline healthcare workers – the ones who can tell us what we need to survive and thrive. What do teachers want?

  • Less bureaucracy and more quality teaching time
  • Adaptations to meet individual student challenges
  • More personal accountability
  • Personal development

Ironically, if we’d have met teachers demands to have greater access to classroom-based tech before the coronavirus, the transition to distance learning would have been so much smoother.  It’s time to completely change the way we engage with teachers. They need to be part of the leadership teams and part of the decision making. They need to be part of the redesign team top to bottom, inside and out.

Leadership and Technology Will Pave the Way to a Brighter Future

The pandemic, with its disruption, is forcing us to accelerate toward where we should have already been. In other words, we don’t need to transform education because of the coronavirus – the coronavirus just forced the transformation we’ve needed for decades. We need to take the opportunity being presented.

Leadership must protect, embrace, and support agents of change. Instead of designing homogenized schools, we need to design schools that reflect our communities. Schools should be community centers, audaciously planned to utilize capacity in ways that serve everyone. Leaders must:

  • Bring design to life
  • Remove barriers
  • Create accountability
  • Prepare for pushback
  • Continuously pursue the dream

To succeed, integrated technology will be required in all aspects of school design and education delivery – in architecture, connectivity, safety, wall space, room space, site utilization, hardware and software, furnishings, and more.

Leaders must be outcome-driven, willing to do more with less; they must become moguls of data analytics and bring more stakeholders to the table, including volunteers, vendors, and business partners, for they are all part of the education community.

Now is the time to shift the curve – from classroom batching to personalized engagement; from brick-and-mortar to project-based virtual learning; from the family to the community; from empowered administration to empowered students and teachers; from textbook to device; from analog to digital; from teaching to wellbeing; from grades to learning trajectory – from INSTRUCTIVISM to CONSTRUCTIVISM.


Lumen Touch is dedicated to being part of the future of education. We focus on improving the learning opportunities for children with measurable outcomes. We have been diligently listening to educators and experts to develop and improve our all-in-one solution. We’re discovering through this pandemic how critical it is to have something like Lumen Touch in place for a seamless transition from the classroom to home education without missing a moment. In a potential hybrid-style future, in which split schedules are the norm and education time is divided between school and home, this is critical. We are in the process of expanding our services to all 50 states. If your school is preparing for a permanent change in instruction and delivery, get in touch.

Rising to the Challenge: Reimagining Learning

What’s the biggest challenge facing school technology directors currently? It is not a lack of devices or a deficient internet; they are working through those issues with a variety of creative solutions. The biggest challenge right now is the unknowns. Will students return to school full-time or will they learn from home full-time? Or will the solution going forward be a hybrid? Will there be split schedules? We dealt with many of these questions and more during our latest Facebook Live, which you can learn more about and watch here.

One of the biggest challenges we’ll have to deal with is the unknown. We’re planning for three scenarios – coming back, blended, and all at home. Our district is also considering making the students stay with the same teacher in the same classroom all day long. So now my high school social studies teacher has to teach trig?  – Rob Landers, Director of Technology, Washington School District of Washington, Missouri

As school leaders, teachers, and district tech directors attempt to plan for all possible scenarios, we believe the focus must shift to talking about the future of learning. The pandemic has forced changes that have been in the making for a decade, and now that we’re embracing these alternative ways of disseminating knowledge, going backward should not be the solution. It’s time to reimagine learning.

Redefining Learning: Learning Doesn’t Have to Happen in a Classroom

With all of next year up in the air for most school districts, our team is focused on the future of schools and redefining learning. Learning is not just something that happens in the classroom. 

At the very beginning [of the pandemic], teachers were tech heavy. They required students to be online all the time and tried to stick to school schedules. But kids should only be on devices for a certain amount of time, so we started monitoring what teachers were doing. What we discovered is that kids can learn even when not on the device – standards can be learned through many activities – scavenger hunts, cooking, doing laundry. We started to see a real balance between online learning and alternative learning, where kids were outside, taking pictures, being active, then coming back to write up projects. – Julie Leach, 21st Century Instructional Coach at Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools

Where Do We Go from Here?

Right now, we have a significant opportunity to revolutionize education – to move away from standardized testing and toward individualized learning. The education system has already been completely disrupted by the pandemic, so why return to a system that was already outdated and underperforming?

We’re not preparing students today to work with AI and robots or to work with code, which is what they’ll need. Redesign the curriculum – screw the standardized test. We are doing our students a complete disservice, and we’re not preparing them to be able to get a job in the workplace. – Dr. John Vandewalle, Lumen Touch CEO

Consider the long-term ramifications from which we could benefit by:

  • Eliminating grade levels – students could progress at their own speed, truly allowing for individualized education for every student
  • Keeping students with the same teacher for multiple years – literature from experts maintains that changing teachers every year is traumatizing and creates a learning gap
  • Placing more emphasis on learning and less on standardized testing – recognizing that standardized testing does not test students for functional education that they need to succeed in society; it may be time to remove standardized testing and focus instead on teaching practical, applicable topics

There have been very few silver linings over the last three months of living through this pandemic, but one very bright spot has been the way teachers, tech leaders, and the community have – many times on the fly – come up with ways to deliver real learning without the structure and schedule of a school setting. From the rural bar that opened during the day for students, simply so that they could use the internet to do their homework, to the teachers who have found extraordinary ways to reach and engage with their students, to create new ways to learn, and to work with available tools to make the best of the situation. As we move forward, we should be striving to provide teachers and students with the tools they need so that they are better prepared for the future.

It is time to redefine learning. We would love to hear your ideas. Get in touch.