Before the pandemic, many education experts wondered when and to what extent the e-learning model would disrupt higher education. After all, the technology existed. It seemed to some that it was a matter of time before the economic argument made the transition incentives overwhelming.
However, this did not happen. Many universities have continued to provide education in the same format. While the technology was ready, the right financial incentives were not. The universities themselves seem to operate on a face-to-face model.
But with the advent of COVID-19, everything has changed. It was no longer possible for universities to give classes in crowded lecture halls. They had to either shut down or provide online education.
The COVID-19 shock
This sudden estrangement from the classroom is not just an academic phenomenon. It is also happening all over the world in schools and colleges. Teachers and students want to avoid infections, so they are turning to technology to save them.
For eLearning, this is great news. Finally, it means that mainstream schools have real incentives to change the way education is delivered. This could potentially lead to a change in the way they use campuses. And some might decide to remove them altogether.
In many ways, universities must respond to competition in the marketplace. Although they didn’t offer any face-to-face training last year, most have kept their prices at the same level. So students started looking for other options, wondering if they could get a better deal by skipping traditional education altogether and learning online.
Naturally, the institutions responded. And now we are seeing an online movement where students can access course materials both in person and through the web.
Going digital can actually help universities to better track students and their progress. Very few institutions keep records of who attends conferences, so online platforms could dramatically change this while reducing administrative costs.
The future of learning
It remains to be seen how this will affect the future of learning. The best MBA admissions consultants always see great business, especially for applicants who want top schools on their resumes.
The most likely outcome is a hybrid education model. Students will spend time in formal classrooms and the rest at home on their laptops. Many students will choose to log into classes at parks or libraries – where they think they can work best.
Universities, however, will need help making the transition. For some, getting all of their courses online was relatively easy because they already had the systems they needed. But for others, the technical expertise just didn’t exist, so it was much more difficult.
The way teachers teach will also change. Instead of just spreading information in a large room, professors are more likely to get involved in focus groups and have video meetings with their students to discuss work. Organizing these facilities online is easier online than trying to do it during traditional “office hours”. Students can instantly access professors without having to wait for days.
There are challenges, however. Students still need reliable Internet access, which many do not have.
Featured Image: Pansies Catalog, Unsplash.