Is it time to take online learning seriously?

The COVID-19 pandemic has left no aspect of daily life untouched.

Even as the novel virus keeps us contained in our homes, it has already reoriented our relationship not just to each other, but to the outside world as we once knew it.

The sheer scale of the pandemic casts a rather historical light on recent events. In the wake of any event of this magnitude, we can expect long-term changes. Whether we're talking about business, healthcare, or education, society has been deconstructed and reshaped in the span of a few months.

Periods of uncertainty present opportunities. As COVID-19 grows smaller in the rearview mirror, we're left with a less polarised political discourse, renewed appreciation for friends and the outdoors—and technology that empowers us in new and exciting ways.

One of the areas that the pandemic has thrown into a tailspin is education. Public schools, colleges, and universities have been forced to transition to 100% digital coursework—which is no different than what we've seen from the remote workforce. In both the education and business sectors, such large-scale and last-minute pivots have been difficult and stressful to navigate.

When it comes to higher education, the effects of COVID-19 have reached far and wide, leaving a mark on lesson plans, applications and admissions processes, tuition fees, and student loans—among other aspects of university life.

What does the future hold for universities in the wake of a worldwide viral outbreak? And will learning from home become the new norm in education?

Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education: The Rise of E-Learning

The pandemic has forced us to re-imagine how we approach traditional education. Sticking to tradition—whether we're talking about the typical office workplace or the delivery of in-person lectures—is no longer a requirement. COVID-19 has given us a chance to break old habits and harness the power of new technology, remodeling the way we live, work, and learn.

Higher education is an area that has been long overdue for innovation. The rise of e-learning breaks down barriers for students who aren't otherwise able to attend their university of choice due to physical distance. As for commuter students who travel upwards of 2 hours to attend a 9 am class, online learning is more than welcome.

And as other university services, such as counseling for mental health or career development, ramp up their online presence, they'll become increasingly accessible to the very students they're meant to benefit.

Online schooling has had other implications, namely online tests and feedback. But before any of that is possible, online admissions processes must be implemented, which will make next year's round of acceptances and rejections much more complicated.

Another trend we may see is students who are hesitant to return to university at all. Understandably, many families are reluctant to chalk up expensive tuition for a completely remote university experience. Students may prefer to apply for programs that have built up a reputation for online learning, opting for these instead of the typical residential experience.

What Does This Mean for the Future of Online Learning?

Compared to the conventional classroom, students retain up to 25-60% more material when learning through a digital platform. E-learning allows students to set their own pace—to re-read sections that they didn't quite grasp or power through modules that they've already mastered.

Many universities have made the switch quite successfully. Take Zhejiang University, which has managed to upload more than 5,000 courses over the span of two weeks. Closer to home, the Imperial College London has started offering an online course on the science of coronavirus, a course that now boasts the highest number of enrollments on Coursera on the list of courses launched in 2020. Other colleges and universities have turned to Zoom as a way to provide temporary online lectures to their students during the pandemic.

As for teachers, e-learning has presented them with an array of new tools, including video meetings, chat groups, online polls, and file-sharing capabilities. Communication between professors and students has never been more accessible. Gone are the days where speaking with a professor meant trekking across campus to join the line outside their office.

While the social aspects of university life are sorely missed, experts believe that traditional offline learning and digital learning will be more integrated than ever when it comes to how lessons are delivered coming out of the pandemic. Rather than oppose each other, these two modes of learning go hand-in-hand.

An Online Learning Solution That Caters to Your Organisation's Requirements

Are you an organisation that's interested in pivoting toward digital education? Globalgraphics can help you increase the accessibility of your training while streamlining modules, grading, and feedback in one convenient location.

With over 20 years of industry experience, our team has built a reputation for high-quality digital solutions through working alongside organizations across all sectors.

We've partnered with clients like the University Health Network in Toronto to help their Division of Nephrology expand its educational reach, combining the best of education and technology to create a user-friendly and enriched learning experience. The secure portal we created is where doctors and nurses in training can now access pre-recorded lectures, download documents, ask questions, and undergo assessments, where their scores are automatically recorded and used to calculate a final grade.

Are you interested in working with industry professionals to create the ideal online learning solution for your organisation? Get in touch with Globalgraphics today by calling 0121 667 8667 or clicking here

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