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A lot has changed since the pandemic started – our lifestyles, work patterns, and especially how we learn. Still, it might be too optimistic to predict whether we are close to the end of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Among all subjects, the education sector has been one of the most affected by the pandemic. With schools and universities closing their doors, students have had to find alternative ways to continue their studies. For many, this has meant turning to online learning. Hence, many schools and academic institutes were pushed to provide online courses due to COVID-19 and to announce the return of in-person learning. So, does that mean it is time to ditch online learning?
Looking at the end of this tunnel, we may have to make some predictions to address this question. The predictions may include subjects about how things, and here, the educational environment as a matter of speculation, will change in the optimistic close post-COVID world.
So, let’s look at the main question: what will happen to online learning when the pandemic is over? Will it continue to grow in popularity, or will traditional face-to-face teaching regain its place as the preferred learning method?
The simple answer is it depends.
There are arguments for both sides. On the one hand, online learning has proved itself to be a viable option for continuing education when physical attendance at educational institutions is not possible. It has also shown that it can be more flexible and adaptable to the needs of students, who may have other commitments such as work or family.
On the other hand, some argue that online learning can never replace the personal interaction and social aspects of face-to-face teaching.
Investing in the Development of High-Quality Online Courses
For k-12 institutes, no one can deny the necessity of keeping students in the classrooms and having close interaction with teachers and their peers. However, for undergraduate students in colleges and universities, we may still somehow debate the importance of their engagement with the campus at the early stage of their adult life.
However, the COVID era has proved to us that the universities that look at the market beyond offering traditional bachelor programs have generated new revenue streams by offering online, digital credentials, certificate courses, or short-term upskilling training. This training has become an essential word for the modern technology-driven workforce market.
HRs and recruiters also are no longer only looking at your postsecondary experiences and that once-done degree. As everyone knows, if they want to be consistently competent, lifelong learning is the right approach. Hence, some universities and elite business schools started continuing education programs long before the COVID era, with more and more coding boot camps on the market and ready-to-use technology fuelling this trend.
The best part of online learning is that learning can happen anytime, anywhere, and at the learners’ pace. It gives clients the autonomy they need to learn optimally, especially for mature learners or those with working experience who have time constraints and might not be able to commit to attending.
To follow this trend, higher education finally realized they have been missing from the grand online learning education picture. Actions were followed and undertaken by prestigious universities like Harvard. MIT started developing its learning management platform and formed Open edX ®, which is now widely used among reputable academic institutes and organizations to offer online courses.
This is because online learning is about more than just making up the lecture contents and throwing them onto an LMS platform. It is more than just live streaming the classroom setting. As a good online course, it should have a solid instructional design, engaging multimedia content, and clear learning objectives. Students taking an online course should also be able to access rich learning materials and receive prompt feedback from the instructors. In other words, quality online courses should not be inferior to traditional face-to-face instruction, if not better.
But with all these technological advancements and thinking, is it worth putting in the time and money to develop a top-notch online course?
Some advantages of Online Courses
Significant Reduction in Tuition Costs
A traditional MBA program costs between $100,000-150,000. The University of Illinois is offering a discounted cost of $22,000 for an entire MBA — leading to the retirement of its traditional residential degree offering. Georgia Tech’s pioneering online master in a computer science program, which costs only $7,000, recently announced they’ve exceeded 10,000 enrollments for this fall. Many universities have started degree programs online to bring more global traffic to schools.
Flexible and Self-Paced Learning Experiences
As adult learners, we have a busy working-life schedule, and online learning and learning management systems offer a self-paced rhythm so we can flexibly arrange our own time for learning and keep it at our own pace to avoid the stress of studying in person.
Improvement of virtual Communication and Teamwork Skills
think of before the COVID era, it was not easy for everyone to get comfortable in doing presentations and meetings with Zoom or Webex in front of the camera, but once you master the skill of pivoting around the learning modules and different online discussion rooms, you feel it is relatively pleasant to handle back to back meetings and collaborate with different team members sitting at the back of the cameras on your screen.
It does not matter if it is a 3-day data analysis boot camp or a weekend-only project management certificate course; you will encounter classmates from different backgrounds and actively participate in discussions with them, which will provide a global perspective that you cannot easily experience in your daily life. You will add such a new perspective to your current job or project; it may turn out to be the most valuable asset in your career.
Who knows? Maybe Covid come back. The future is highly uncertain. If the sub-variants of COVID-19 outsmart humans despite public health efforts like vaccines and new medications, we may have to go back to the new norm again. We should always have a plan B in place.
In short, it seems that online learning is probably not going anywhere. It is here to stay and will only become more prevalent in the post-COVID world. We should all be prepared to embrace it and make the most of it.
The structure of the online learning ecosystem is now gradually completed by course providers, technology partners, and learning management systems. LMS providers have now become an essential part of the entire industry.
For those institutes that have not entered this field, they will have various factors to consider before they make the most informed decisions. You may contact edSPIRIT- a leading learning management platform, to find the best solution for your organization today by visiting www.edspirit.com.