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How Technology Transformed Learning In 2020

As pupils return to their classrooms this month, and universities are looking to head back soon, education and how Covid has affected this, is an important topic to discuss in terms of how technology has allowed us to perform.

Without typical education, not only would students be occupying worse grades, leading them towards potentially poorer earning careers, but also, their social skills would be lacking. This is one of the main reasons why it has been very important to send schools back as soon as possible.

At the start of each school year, studies show that the most important skills to learn are all social based. This includes confidence, self-control, independence, empathy, cooperation and communication. This just goes to show the significance of conventional schooling and how even the most sophisticated tech could not replace the social side of learning for children.

Throughout lockdown, we saw a huge rise in technology platforms and apps being created and used by millions of people all over the world. These included the increase in video call software, such as Zoom, messaging software, such as Microsoft Teams, and even quiz and game apps. Obviously talking to friends, family and colleagues via a screen is not the ideal, but these apps definitely provided some escapism from our households during the current worst of the pandemic.

As a university student hoping to be able to return for my final year, it has been great to see that my school, and the university as a whole, has been putting in measures to make sure that some face-to-face teaching will resume this year. All the lectures will be online, however, for a course that is very practical, such as my own – Film, Photography and Media – there does need to be a balance between resources online and in-person teaching.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t been that easy for everyone during lockdown.

Lots of pupils have been disadvantaged due to factors such as lack of technology, lack of suitable environment to work and concentrate in, and lack of motivation to do the set work. Hopefully with schools returning, there will be an increase in productivity, as it is already clear that everyone is thrilled to have that piece of normality back.

Other ways technology has helped during the pandemic includes contactless payments, online shopping and even robot deliveries in certain countries, AI programmes for medical use, the track and trace system, 3D printing of medical devices, new apps to help with ordering in restaurants and bars, and livestreaming services for entertainment and fitness purposes.

If we didn’t have these technological luxuries, we would be living a very different story right now.

For many years, the rise of tech throughout the world has been looked at as potentially harmful for younger generations due to ease of accessibility to unsafe material, tech taking over jobs, and even for mental and physical health reasons, such as technology addiction, insomnia, relationships and sociability, obesity, and eating disorders.

The popular social media channel, Instagram, is debating making influencers say when their posts are photoshopped or edited, as this is very harmful for the mental health of its younger users. Instagram posts are all incredibly idealised, and often show much less of the truth than we realise. The spreading of fake news on other social applications has also been damaging to users over the past few years, however, measures are being taken to try and filter news to solve this issue.

Even though there are negatives of modern technology, these issues are in the process of being resolved, and we should be grateful for everything that tech has helped us to achieve in the middle of a pandemic. Of course, it has been hard, but it would have been much worse had it not been for how quickly technological resources have evolved over the last few years, and more specifically, in 2020.

Written by Madeleine Goddard

Will Video Call Interviews Continue to Be the New Normal as Offices Return?

The ‘new normal’ is a phrase we hear multiple times a day now. The pandemic has changed the way we socialise, work and altogether live. One of the more noticeable changes with this ‘new normal’, has been how companies complete internal talent acquisition.

Before the outbreak, it would be rare to not have candidates come into the office for a final stage interview. Now, the hiring process is being completed via video call software, such as Skype and Zoom. As companies have started to send their employees back into offices recently, an important question to ask is: Are face-to-face interviews still necessary, or even safe?

For companies very focused on employing the exact right people, value and personality-wise, I would assume that they would find video recruitment much more difficult than face-to-face interviews. How do you know you’ve found the right person for the role and the company environment just from a video call? And how does the employee know they’ve accepted the right job for them when they haven’t met their colleagues in person?

Apart from the main negative of interviewing over video being the uncertainty of the company’s environment and workplace culture, unfortunately there are aspects such as bad Wi-Fi connection, absence of technology, and background distractions that can negatively affect your video interview.

However, there are actually quite a few pros to this hiring method.

No one ever wants to be late to an interview, especially as this could be harmful to the employers first impression of you. If you are doing the interview from your home – punctuality is not a problem at all. The lack of travel arrangements needed also makes for a much cheaper way to interview, for both the interviewee, and the company, if they pay expenses. This will also mean a less stressful and nerve-wracking experience for the candidate, giving them the potential to perform better in the interview.

Another positive about interviewing online is that you can add multiple people to the call from any location, meaning more people from the company get the opportunity to see if you’re a right fit, leading to a less biased final decision.

During 2020, the statistics for video call interviews have definitely risen from previous years, as it has been almost impossible to not hire using virtual tools. 86% of companies perform employee interviews over video call and 78% of corporate companies use some type of video calling software.

From personal experience, it is definitely easier to show your personality in a face-to-face interview, as well as body language, which is obviously very hard to read during video calls. However, interviews via video call have been perfectly acceptable during Covid times and are sometimes definitely more of a reasonable expectation – especially for long distance candidates.

Do you think there will be a continuing rise in video call talent acquisition even after company safety measures are relaxed? Or will face-to-face interviews still be the necessity to most companies? Let us know what you think will happen.

Written by Madeleine Goddard