New research found that in the 18 months since nationwide COVID-19 lockdowns began, the top priority for teachers across the United States and United Kingdom is bridging the gap between decreasing children’s engagement levels and using tech effectively in the classroom.

The research, conducted by edtech gaming studio Kuato Studios, found that when asked about the biggest challenges they faced during the pandemic, half of teachers in the United States and UK admitted struggling to meet individual needs in the virtual classroom, while almost half (46 percent) of U.S. teachers and more than a third (36 percent) in the UK struggled to properly engage children through online resources.

“The pandemic has reshaped children’s education and many of those changes are here to stay. However, the research shows some concerning trends, particularly when it comes to engagement rates,” Mark Horneff, CEO of Kuato Studios, said. “We know technology has the power to bridge [the engagement] gap but it requires a concerted effort from educational bodies, government and those with technical know-how to create the classroom of the future – one that will work for every child.”

Despite the disconnect, teachers and parents in both the United States and UK believe that technology is critical to children’s education and acknowledged its benefits for everything from emotional support and encouragement to engagement and enjoyment. In terms of specific ed tech priorities for their child’s learning post-pandemic, U.S. parents cited problem solving (77 percent) and creativity (59 percent).

Researchers asked parents and educators which technologies will shape children’s learning the most in the not-too-distant future, virtual reality (VR) came out on top for more than a third of teachers and more than 60 percent of parents in both the United States and UK. VR was followed closely by social networking apps and robot programming tools.

Additionally, gaming came out as an area that both teachers and parents see as a “force for good” for holding children’s attention, broadening their imagination and helping with vital motor skills and hand-eye coordination. However, the study found that two of teachers’ biggest concerns need to be met for this to become a reality: access to digital tools and upskilling, which more than half of teachers are asking for.

“The dominant issue in both the UK and [United States] is the skills gap among teachers and access to tools,” Camilla Ross, a teacher and education consultant, said. “There isn’t an overnight solution for this, so we within the education space must continually make our voices heard and campaign for this sorely needed change to level up tech-based teaching – it’s clear that teachers and parents want the same things in order to best support our students.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs