With the recent outbreak of coronavirus, thousands of schools are preparing for extended closures and quarantines by looking into remote learning options. Elementary schools are trying distance learning with digital and paper tasks, high schools are experimenting with video conferencing, and universities are shifting classes to existing online formats.
These ideas are fantastic ways to ensure students can continue learning and schools can meet educational requirements during an extended school closure. However, they are not the only options.
In this article, we’ll be talking about an often-missed but highly effective e-learning technology: software as a service (SaaS) applications.
What is SaaS?
Software as a Service (SaaS) is a kind of shared software on the cloud. Many learning management systems, classroom applications, and document sharing systems are SaaS applications. You’re probably already using SaaS, even if you don’t realize it.
These applications are generally less expensive than other software options. SaaS apps are easy to scale, making them a good option for e-learning tools that will be used by the entire school.
6 Reasons Your School Should Consider SaaS Applications
1. SaaS allows students to learn from anywhere.
E-learning SaaS applications allow students to learn anywhere with good wifi. They can be used in the classroom, at home, on library desktop computers, or even on laptops outdoors. You can teach the entire class from any location.
If a virus outbreak shuts down your school, education doesn’t have to pause. Students can continue to work on many types of classroom projects from home.
2. SaaS is easy to manage.
In most cases, SaaS is easier to manage than traditional e-learning software that must be installed on each machine. Schools don’t need to account for each license, install individual applications, or manage updates. Cloud applications do not need to be updated since a web-based application is always running the latest software.
With SaaS, you don’t need a lot of storage or computing power. All you need is a good internet connection.
3. SaaS provides excellent customer service.
Worried that teachers won’t be able to troubleshoot if they run into tech problems? Don’t worry: most SaaS providers offer timely customer service and assistance to teachers.
Since SaaS applications are sold on renewal-based subscription model, providers are incentivized to keep customers happy. That means you’re likely to get assistance with technical issues within a few hours or less.
4. SaaS provides a more personalized e-learning curriculum.
Some SaaS programs use AI to create a personalized curriculum for each student. For example, Typing Agent automatically adapts its keyboarding curriculum to each student and focuses on areas where they need more practice.
Rather than forcing students into a learning mold that is not optimal for most students, SaaS applications can meet each student where they are.
5. SaaS allows students to use the hardware of their choice.
Are some of your students more comfortable with their home computers? If so, they will likely appreciate SaaS applications, which can be used on any operating system.
SaaS is also a good option for schools that do not have the budget to issue a computer to each student but know that everyone has access at home. Cloud applications can be used on any laptop or desktop computer.
6. SaaS makes communication between teachers and students easy.
Since SaaS applications update in real time, many SaaS applications have built-in communication features. That means teachers can make announcements, send messages to individual students, and communicate with students on what they’d like them to work on for the day or week.
You can communicate about assignments within the same app where students will be working on those assignments. Everything is all in one place for students and teachers alike.
How Can My School Implement Remote Learning with SaaS?
If you plan to make classes completely remote, you will need a variety of tools:
- Video communications. Many schools that recently closed classrooms to prevent the spread of coronavirus are using SaaS tools like Zoom or Google Hangouts. Some SaaS companies opted to temporarily offer services for free during the coronavirus pandemic. While teaching on video is a bit different from teaching in person, there are plenty of resources out there to help teachers get started with unfamiliar technology and adapt their teaching style. Talk to company representatives and ask teachers who are already using video technology for advice.
- Document sharing. Teachers and students use thousands of documents every year, from class readings and instructions to essays and online projects. Luckily, there are many ways to share those documents online. Your school is likely already using at least a couple of document sharing SaaS tools, like G Suite, Office 365, or Dropbox. If you are preparing to expand e-learning at your school, you may want to look into expanding your storage space or making use of lesser-known apps.
- Online activities. Your school may already teach keyboarding and other subjects through e-learning platforms like Typing Agent. If you are expanding your remote education capabilities, you may want to consider platforms with more advanced progress tracking features or additional subjects. For example, Typing Agent teaches students to type code and explores digital citizenship in addition to keyboarding. We also have highly advanced and customizable reporting features for teachers, schools, and school districts. While classroom science labs might not be an option during school closures, additional technology education is!
Budgeting for SaaS Remote Learning Tools
Software applications can be expensive, but SaaS is usually one of the cheaper ways to go. Cloud applications generally offer simple pricing structures and substantial discounts at scale.
One of the advantages of SaaS is that it’s easy to switch out at the end of the year. With installed software, you might be stuck with the same application for several years. Most SaaS applications make it easy to cancel a subscription at the end of a year and try something else.
Education Doesn’t Have to Stop for Coronavirus
Don’t let a virus stop your students from learning! SaaS and other remote learning solutions allow students and teachers to keep going, even when schools are closed and students are under quarantine.
Typing Agent is the most powerful online keyboarding and technology curriculum. We offer an adaptive curriculum, engaging games and incentives, and countless opportunities for interaction. Our students learn all the skills they need to become stellar digital citizens and build a solid foundation for coding.
Over 96% of schools that use Typing Agent opt to renew every year. Start your demo to see why.