Whether this is Remote Working/Stay At Home Week 3 or 4 for you, the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) pandemic has irrevocably changed our daily lives. As we enter what we can call “the new normal”, how can we get back to business, especially when that business is education?
School children around the world are still out of school, homeschooling with their parents and receiving daily lessons with their teachers online if available. Universities are starting back with virtual classrooms and lectures. Meetups and seminars are also up and running as people seek normalcy in extraordinary circumstances such as this. Our streets might be empty but internet traffic is as heavy as it’s ever been. Technology has emerged as the unsung hero (and of course our healthcare professionals but hopefully you are singing to them daily) and one technology, in particular, has been a great asset to the learning community - video conferencing.
The Nationwide Shutdown
March 13th, 2020 - the Swiss Federal Government orders schools and universities nationwide to temporarily close to slow the spread of the coronavirus. They also ask for solidarity from businesses to allow for parents to work from home where possible so that the children are not placed with their grandparents who belong to high risk groups.
School and university heads scramble for solutions to continue educational activities. Some already have contingency plans and are able to switch to fully online classes almost immediately, whereas the majority are forced to close for a week or two to come up with potential solutions. Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom are forerunners in video conferencing technology, the quick fix to transitioning from traditional face-to-face lessons but virtually.
Made To Last (and Learn) and Here to Stay
While Zoom offers one of the most stable and ideal video conferencing solutions that solves face-to-face lessons, learning is much more than just a teacher or professor in front of you providing you with information like a one-way street. The first verdicts and learnings are already in, and they show that even the most dedicated and disciplined adult learner will find will struggle to concentrate and absorb 8 hours of frontal teaching on screen, regardless if the topic is Leadership or Accounting. Not to mention the professor who has to transfer this information to multiple students, keep up the energy and engagement of users who are probably still in their pajama bottoms, fielding questions and trying to make sure everything runs smoothly with the technology.
As the first steps are taken to resume the business of teaching, now is the right time to go back to the drawing board and start evaluating how online and distance learning can be even more effective. What works in frontal teaching that isn’t as effective in an online setting? How do K-12, university and professional learners learn differently and how can we keep the learning at the maximum by augmenting their experience with educational technology that is already available. There are platforms that offer these holistic learning experiences for the various student segments that not only incorporates frontal teaching with Zoom, but also allows for more flexible and innovative instruction by incorporating videos, interactive quizzes and e-learning. Does it then not make more sense to start looking seriously and investing time into building lasting and impactful courses on there already? These are all essential questions to ask because whether we like it or not, the pandemic has uprooted education as we know it and pushed us forward into a bold, new, future of digital learning that is here to stay. We have had to quickly react to this sudden circumstance, but can now act with careful consideration and experience how we want this future to look like.
Digital learning will never completely replace presence-based learning, and schools and universities will reopen and be bustling with students again before long. But at least blended learning will be the norm, and not the exception. All in all, there are bound to be lasting implications of such fast and total conversion to digital learning that we are experiencing today. All-encompassing implications affecting those who are already familiar with it, those who were only starting to, and those who have not had the opportunity to delve into the topic at all. We are talking about all stakeholders from students to teachers, professors, program managers, deans and board of directors have to take a step so far forward, so suddenly and so drastically.
Back in 2003, SARS accelerated e-commerce to new heights in China. One day, we will be looking back at this very moment in history, where the coronavirus propelled remote work and digital learning forward to what we imagine would have taken us another decade to reach, had the pandemic not broken out.
We want to help
During these uncertain times, we are offering a special support package to help you continue your courses and seminars on a platform that incorporates the best of digital learning and the most interactive video conferencing technology available at a discounted rate. Find out more here.