How Apps Help Distance Learning


Digital technology has transformed nearly every aspect of our lives, including how we learn. Distance learning, also known as online education, has gained unprecedented popularity in recent years, with digital apps playing a pivotal role in its success. These apps have revolutionized the educational landscape, making it more accessible, flexible, and engaging for learners of all ages.

Rachel had a scheduling conflict. She needed a personal day in June 2023 but had to help a few students with Math and Science. Pre-pandemic, Rachel would have had to shuffle around. The lockdown helped (without being in a remote situation, Rachel would not have thought of giving technology a try). She logged into Gmeet- the video-conferencing platform that helped the students and collaborated with the class teacher for student feedback.

The school could conduct video meetings before the pandemic but rarely bothered with the technology. That quickly changed when P.S. 105, N.Y., like schools nationwide, pivoted to virtual operations in the autumn of 2020. With students and teachers back in the classroom in 2021, Rachel cannot imagine working without the digital tool. “It was learning born out of necessity,” she says.

School teachers like Rachel have done much on-the-fly tech learning over the past two years. They hosted their first colleague meet-up on Zoom. They recorded their first YouTube video for students and then recorded it Ten more times because they kept flubbing their lines. They coached and sometimes cajoled tech-averse teachers into creating digital classrooms, then watched in awe as those teachers gained confidence in their new skills and embraced online tools.

Post-pandemic: Schools are taking technology integration seriously. Schools are employing various ways to train teachers for intensive curriculum mapping. Anticipating that learning would be a mix of in-person and virtual, educators are working together to share and identify digital materials and tools that they could use to teach concepts in math, reading, and other subjects.

Distance learning- The Promise Of Education To The Remotest Corners

Technology allows learners living in remote areas to access education. The evidence on these initiatives is encouraging. For example, Johnston and Ksoll (2017) evaluated a program that broadcasted live instruction via satellite to rural primary school students in Ghana’s Volta and Greater Accra regions. For this purpose, the program also equipped classrooms with the technology needed to connect to a studio in Accra, including solar panels, a satellite modem, a projector, a webcam, microphones, and a computer with interactive software. After two years, the intervention improved the numeracy scores of students in grades 2 through 4 and some foundational literacy tasks.

However, as captured by school visits, it did not affect attendance or classroom time devoted to instruction. The authors interpreted these results as suggesting that the gains in achievement may be due to improving the quality of instruction that children received (as opposed to increased instructional time). Naik, Chitre, Bhalla, and Rajan (2019) evaluated a similar program in the Indian state of Karnataka and also found positive effects on learning outcomes.

Facilitating Differentiated Instruction-

Most developing countries massively expanded access to schooling in recent decades by building new schools and making education more affordable by defraying direct costs and compensating for opportunity costs (Duflo, 2001; World Bank, 2018).

Consequently, many learners perform well below grade-based curricular expectations (e.g., Duflo, Dupas, & Kremer, 2011; Pritchett & Beatty, 2015). These learners are unlikely to get much from “one-size-fits-all” instruction, in which a single educator delivers instruction deemed appropriate for the middle (or top) of the achievement distribution (Banerjee & Duflo, 2011). The technology has potentially helped these learners by providing them with (a) instruction and opportunities for practice that adjusts to the level and pace of preparation of each individual (known as “computer-adaptive learning” (CAL)) or (b) live one-on-one tutoring.

One of the main comparative advantages of technology is its ability to diagnose students’ initial learning levels and assign students to instruction and exercises of appropriate difficulty. No individual educator—no matter how talented—can be expected to provide individualized instruction to all learners in his/her class simultaneously. In this respect, technology complements traditional teaching. This use of technology could help learners master basic skills and help them get more out of schooling.

Chronicle Cloud is custom-built to support teachers in differentiating instruction. The Note-taking and Group Notes features help teachers segregate students according to their aptitude and the stage of learning to address individual and group learning needs.
Like any other app, Chronicle Cloud enables teachers to conduct all management tasks related to teaching and learning over the app. Teachers who tutor personally and remotely use the app for Attendance, conferring Notes, Formative Assessments, and monitoring progress for individuals and groups.

Classroom Management

Connecting And Convenience-

As schools swung from fully remote to entirely in-person to something in between, teachers and administration acquired a clearer perspective on technology’s role in their student’s success and the effective management of their schools. They saw firsthand how digital instruction could enhance education and how it remains second-best to in-person pedagogy. What they have learned continues to influence their work today.

Rachel and the administration found that communicating with colleagues or students no longer required being in the same room, which meant valuable timesaving in the jam-packed schedules of busy teachers. Sharing and Collaborating made it more accessible between colleagues and parents, caregivers and guardians. The unexpected shifts to virtual learning and sharing increased communication between schools and families (Stephenson et al., 2021)

Parents busy with work-home stress and commitments, especially after COVID, when workplaces became demanding, have found migration to online meetings, receiving assignments and feedback very helpful and timesaving.

Many EdTech companies are trying to address this and train principals, administrators and teachers to lead effectively and equitably in both virtual and physical realms.

Among other advantages, the Chronicle Cloud team found that technology helped strengthen home-school connections in under-resourced communities. One teacher commented, “We can now have meetings and invite families in a comfortable manner.” Parent engagement has increased, and increased engagement has heightened student learning. Working parents could suddenly connect with their child’s teacher during lunch breaks. A family member with disabilities could join a call from home. Parents are collaborating with teachers to help their children achieve better results.

Teaching With EdTech Apps And Tools-

Communicating with adults is one thing. Teaching K–12 students is another. After being compelled by the pandemic to roll out virtual instruction, many teachers have discovered anew that technology can be an invaluable tool for learning. “Five years ago, the administration barred teachers from using digital apps if students turn in assignments online; it is the norm now and even encouraged,” says one of the teachers working at P.S. 105, N.Y. Virtual learning during the pandemic became a catalyst for teachers to recalibrate their expectations for their pedagogy.

How Apps Help Distance Learning

With Edtech- from classroom management to curriculum, teachers saw the gradual shift in group learning to a more personalized form of pedagogy. Because the teacher could concentrate on every child’s learning needs with the apps and tools managing most of the classroom management tasks vis- lesson plans, adding and sharing rosters, and formative and summative assessments. The students benefited from the personalized approach.

Most teachers resisted using technology in classrooms until the pandemic made technology imperative. Teachers were driving that conversation, says one of the directors of the educator community. Having been asked to teach virtually suddenly, they wanted to know, ‘What does success look like for an educator? How can they know if they address their students’ learning needs.? Indeed, nearly half of teachers, principals, and district leaders said that one of the three biggest tech challenges they faced was using digital tools to teach effectively.

With the return of in-person learning, principals and teachers are keen to integrate technology into instruction and classroom management. During the pandemic, for example, schools approved Chronicle Cloud, suggested by teachers, allowing them to create digital formative assessments. The app made it much easier for them to monitor student learning when school was virtual and continues even now when the schools run entirely in-person. Technology gives that leverage to accomplish more in less time and looks after accuracy.

Striking this healthy balance between digital learning and old-school ways is top of mind for most administrators and teachers. Most teachers use multiple apps simultaneously to manage classroom tasks and find innovative ways to make the lesson more engaging and interact with parents.
Teachers are using apps to differentiate instruction, so students work at a level suitable for them. Teachers find it helpful to engage students while they provide small-group instruction or to fill in downtime, such as during morning arrival. Apps allow teachers to:

Better Accessibility- One of the primary advantages of digital apps in distance learning is accessibility. With the help of smartphones, tablets, and computers, learners can access educational materials and resources from virtually anywhere with an internet connection. This accessibility eliminates geographical constraints and allows individuals from remote or underserved areas to participate in quality education programs. Digital apps provide a level playing field, ensuring that education is no longer limited by physical location.

Customized Learning Paths- Digital apps empower learners to personalize their educational journeys. These apps often offer a range of courses and materials, allowing students to choose subjects that align with their interests and goals. Furthermore, many apps use algorithms and data analytics to recommend relevant content and adapt to each learner’s progress. This personalized approach fosters a deeper understanding of the material and enhances the learning experience.

Interactive And Engaging Content- Traditional distance learning methods often struggle to maintain students’ engagement and motivation. Digital apps address this challenge by incorporating interactive elements such as quizzes, games, videos, and simulations. These features make learning more enjoyable and dynamic, catering to different learning styles and preferences. Additionally, instant feedback provided by apps allows learners to gauge their progress and adjust their study strategies accordingly.

Flexibility And Convenience- Digital apps provide unparalleled flexibility for distance learners. Students can choose when and where to study, accommodating various schedules and lifestyles. This flexibility is especially beneficial for working professionals, parents, and individuals with busy lives. Apps also allow students to revisit lessons and materials at their own pace, ensuring they fully grasp the concepts before moving on.

Collaboration And Communication- Distance learning sometimes feels isolating, but digital apps foster collaboration and communication among learners and instructors. Many apps offer discussion boards, chat functions, and virtual classrooms where students can interact with their peers and teachers. These tools enable the exchange of ideas, questions, and solutions, creating a sense of community and enhancing the learning experience.

Classroom Management

Real-Time Assessment And Progress Tracking-

Digital apps streamline the assessment process by providing real-time feedback on quizzes, assignments, and exams. Students can immediately identify areas needing improvement and seek additional resources or assistance. Instructors can also monitor students’ progress more effectively, allowing for timely intervention when necessary. This data-driven approach helps students stay on track and achieve their learning objectives.


Access to a Vast Repository of Resources- Digital apps often offer access to extensive libraries of educational resources, including e-books, research papers, and multimedia content. This wealth of information enriches the learning experience and enables students to delve deeper into their chosen subjects. It also reduces the cost of textbooks and other study materials, making education more affordable and accessible.

In the spring of 2020, a survey conducted by Speak Up, a national research project by the education nonprofit Project Tomorrow, only about 28% of teachers rated their tech skills as advanced (Project Tomorrow, 2021). During the early period of the pandemic, teachers, sometimes tech novices too, found themselves modeling digital tools and hosting mock Zoom classes to demonstrate the video platform’s capabilities. They noted, for example, that they are personally evaluating digital content used in instruction and investigating how technology enables differentiated learning.

Students And Distance Learning- Students can now access videos online that provide instruction on various topics at various skill levels and participate in real-time video conferences with teachers or tutors located away from a state (or even a continent).

Second, touch-screen technology’s evolution has enabled young children to engage in technology-aided instruction. Before tablets, it was difficult for preschool, kindergarten and even early primary-grade students to work with educational software because it required a mouse or keyboard. Now, there are hundreds of applications that can effectively expose children to early literacy and numeracy skills.

Third, advances in artificial intelligence technology allow teachers to differentiate instruction, providing extra support and developmentally appropriate material to students whose knowledge and skills are far below or above grade-level norms. The latest “intelligent” tutoring systems can assess students’ weaknesses and diagnose why students are making specific errors.

Distance Learning And Chronicle Cloud-

Apps like Chronicle Cloud allow teachers to monitor student progress and differentiate instruction according to individual competencies and interests. Teachers found Chronicle Cloud extremely helpful during the pandemic when the schools worked remotely. The Chronicle Cloud technology enabled teachers to reach students further from the average within their classroom, potentially benefiting students with weaker academic preparation. Chronicle Cloud features helped teachers address students’ learning needs and monitor progress to differentiate instruction.

Technology And The Future Of Education-

These technologies scale quickly so that innovations (or even good curricula) can reach more students. Much like a well-written textbook, a well-designed educational software application or online lesson can reach students in a single classroom or school across the state or country.

In recent years, online learning and computer-aided instruction have converged to some extent, morphing into blended- or personalized learning models. Several exciting projects are underway nationwide, including pilots supported by the Gates Foundation’s Next Generation Learning. Challenge and the emergence of charter networks to provide truly personalized learning for every student.


Digital apps have revolutionized distance learning, making it more accessible, engaging, and effective. These apps offer customized learning paths, interactive content, flexibility, and a sense of community, transforming education into a dynamic and inclusive experience. As technology continues to evolve, digital apps will likely play an even more significant role in shaping the future of distance learning, opening up new opportunities for learners worldwide.