The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way students are learning, and those changes may be in operation for longer than originally intended. Campus shutdowns over the past few months led to a quick transition into remote learning – a move that has exposed the lack of high-quality education technology in colleges across the country. This, coupled with delayed campus openings, has increased the pressure on America’s educational system. But has that level of pressure forced us to a pivotal point where our education system will never be the same again?
How it Was
Students used technology to aid in their learning and check-in with professors. It was a huge part of their learning but no one could have anticipated just how central technologies – such as video conferencing – would become to their college experience. Now, all around the world, third-level students have had to make the switch from in-person learning to an online framework. The change was sudden, and the effects are widespread.
Teachers have had to alter their course programs to suit an online learning platform. They had to become familiar with video conferencing platforms in order to deliver lectures and communicate with their students. Many teachers recall feeling anxious during those first few weeks of the switch. Will the students log in? Will I be able to get my point across? Will there be any interference with my internet connection? These were all valid concerns and it took some time for teachers to get comfortable with their new normal.
And those anxieties were also felt by students all around the world too. Will I be able to concentrate for as long as I need to whilst looking at a screen? What will the lack of physical contact do to my relationship with my tutors? Will I be isolated? Will my grades suffer?
What We Know Now and Moving Forward
Now, several months on from this shift in learning, we’re finally starting to see the dust settle. As a whole, tutors are now comfortable with delivering classes online and students have become accustomed to learning from home. So, what does this level of adaptation mean for the future of education? One thing that has remained pre- and post-pandemic is the high cost of college tuition. While student loans remain a need, students can now use a free online scholarship search and application platform to find eligible grants and scholarships to cover the necessary costs to be able to fulfill their college dream going forward.
Once in school, a new hybrid model of education is emerging. That model will be referred to as blended learning. This mix of the old and the new ways of learning ensures a better future-focused learning method. Post-pandemic, universities, and schools will come up with a system where there’s a balance of in-person classes and online tuition. This system will bring many benefits that could not be achieved using only one method. These benefits include better communication, enhanced teacher and student interaction, and flexibility when it comes to learning pace.
But in order for these benefits to be realized, we have to see a number of developments to overcome the challenges that such an integrated system brings. Certain frustrations from childcare providers, for example, will need to be addressed as they relate to a hybrid system. Now is the time to create failsafe systems and resources that will allow teachers and students to better cope with the changes that are coming. If we do get these systems in place, the pandemic and the rush to get online will have changed education forever.