Coronavirus Lessons: Highlighting the Importance of Online Education
Within a matter of weeks, the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc across a number of sectors. The tourism sector has come to a complete standstill, with resorts shutting down, hotels closing, and flights cancelled. With no patrons left to serve, the hospitality sector has come to grinding halt, leading to restaurant and fast-food-chain closures globally.
While there are still a fair number of challenges, some sectors, such as education, have managed to remain operational by merely adopting digital ways of working.
The education sector
Educational institutions such as schools, colleges and universities, have been forced to implement digital ways of working to ensure that students are still able to learn during this time. If the coronavirus pandemic has made one thing clear, it’s that online education has gone from being an option to a necessity.
Whether it be a college, university or a business school, no educational institution wants to slow down its students’ academic performance. As such, institutions have redirected their efforts to adapting their teaching systems to suit the digital environment. And since many institutions already have the necessary infrastructure, they have, almost overnight, been able to start teaching classes online.
Spanish-based university and business school Esade is a prime example. Within a matter of three days, more than 4,200 students went from attending face-to-face lectures to connecting to Esade’s online platform.
Misconceptions of online learning
In the past, distance education was considered a place for educators to “dump” learning material on an online platform for students to access. It followed the age-old methodology of learning, memorizing and writing an exam.
Contrary to popular belief, online learning is not merely about recording a lecture and uploading it to an online platform for students to download and watch from home. Nor does it involve uploading a PowerPoint Presentation of an entire syllabus to a virtual classroom. Online learning is not a substitute resource, as a way providing education to those who, for whatever reason, cannot attend class.
Online learning, more than distance education
Online learning requires a fundamental shift in mindset. That’s because the online platform is the medium itself, not a complement, which places greater emphasis on learning by practicing, and using tools and resources that students will be able to use almost immediately.
Online learning can offer learners a dynamic and interactive user experience. And since it’s accessible to pretty much anyone with a good internet connection, it makes it possible for students to interact with peers from all around the world, giving them exposure to different cultures and thus different ways of thinking, opening their minds to new possibilities.
Educational institutions that want to take the leap and implement online learning must embrace agility, must be adaptable and must be attentive to its students’ needs. It’s also important that the professor or lecturer undergoes training and understands the specific applications and dynamics of online teaching and for these professors and lecturers to attend regular training, to ensure that they remain relevant and future fit in the digital world.
The change preparing us for the future
The coronavirus pandemic has forced educational institutions to think digitally. Many students, of school-going age, have experience in learning from home from a very young age. And, given their exposure to devices such as laptops, tablets and phones, for these students, online learning will become a part of life.
The same young students of today are the leaders of tomorrow. In coming years, they’ll find themselves in an extremely competitive and globalized labor market. A labor market where continuous training will be a necessity, rather than a luxury. And, to stand out from the rest, they’ll likely want to study at some of the top universities from around the world. Because of the digital revolution, this will all be possible. Someday these same students may be able to study at top universities like Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago and Harvard, without needing to leave their countries of birth if they wish.
Through online learning, the opportunities are endless. And the best is yet to come! Are you ready to join the movement that’s revolutionizing online education?