How will Education be Impacted in the World of Online Classes?

Recent rapid developments of COVID-19 in 2020 has resulted in the world collectively watching as the virus outbreak dealt obvious blows to the global healthcare and financial sector. What has been left out of the conversation though, has been the education sector.

While regulators and central banks were under pressure to help stabilise the markets, education institutions around the globe were scrambling to shift their classes online to ensure the health and safety of their students. One by one, the country watched as the UK universities started cancelling physical lectures, moving instead to digital platforms such as Zoom. With the unpredictability of this pandemic, this has left many current higher-education students in limbo, whilst incoming fresher students can only speculate about the uncertainty of their future. 

With that in mind, we have written an informal overview of how CFTE predicts education will be impacted in a world where classes are online. Here are ‘The Top 5 Trends That We Think Most Likely Will Happen.’

1. Lecturers will have to be more innovative

Recently, the internet world has been abuzz about the lecturer who started teaching on Zoom and only realised 45 minutes in that his audio was muted the entire time. 

In all seriousness, however, it is likely that lecturers will have to make major changes to their work habits as they struggle in their shift to lecturing and conducting a class online. A professor at the University of Hong Kong has reported a surge in workload recently, as he had to figure out how to conduct student assessments online. The assumption that digital teaching would only be reserved for tech-savvy lecturers has been swept away.

In fact, a BESA report states that  51% of teachers are already using technology to become more innovative. For example, educators agree that technology is an excellent way to engage students using a medium familiar to them; creating positive learning environments that add extra value and relevance to lessons.

2. IT departments pushed to the forefront

Incumbent education institutions are known to be notoriously slow and tech-illiterate, anyone who has experience signing in to their university emails would understand. However, Times Higher Education has reported that the recent digital shift has suddenly thrust IT departments of universities to the managerial forefront. 

With the trend of online learning on the rise, it is highly possible that universities will start developing an increased demand for UX/UI designers, software developers and technology specialists to cope.

3. Learning becomes more creative

It is not just higher education that has been impacted, learning at all stages has been too. With the shift to online learning, teachers are required to become more creative in their ways of engaging with younger students without actually being physically present. Using online tools, lecturers are able to create increasingly interactive quizzes and assignments for students.

For example, in this article, an educator recounts his experience shifting to online teaching in China during the early days of COVID-19, touching briefly upon his challenge to keep students continuously engaged on their devices. His solution ultimately consisted of requiring all students to answer at least one question during each session, in order to distinguish who was actually participating and who was not. 

Some of the Zoom classes included guitar music. Source.

4. Increase in education platforms

In the UK education sector, Moodle usage is ubiquitous. However, Moodle may not have the capacity to host an online lecture for 30 people, much less 300. Neither is it very conducive to conducting tutorial or seminar sessions whereby students are required to present information to their peers. 

Thus, it seems likely that the western education sector will see an increase in education platforms catering a solution to this. In China, where institutions have transitioned to remote learning earlier than Europe, Alibaba has since adapted the DingTalk app—China’s version of Slack—to accommodate online classes. Features on the app include live-stream classes, online testing and grading. Teachers are even able to see which students had read their postings and which hadn’t. 

It is, of course, unfortunate that students in China hated the app for its efficiency so much, they collectively gave it such low reviews that it got booted off the App Store. Click here for source.

5. Increase the integration of online learning

Considering that there is still a struggle to integrate all physical components of education—for example, student exhibitions and laboratory sessions—into an online platform, it is debatable whether remote learning will fully replace physical classes.

However, what we think is likely, is that we will start to see increased integration of online learning with physical learning. In fact, Hamish Coates, director of the Higher Education Division of the Institute of Education at Tsinghua University has predicted that the industry will witness a boom of online learning post-virus. 

In fact, hard evidence for the superiority of the classroom to the online experience is actually scarce. Educational researchers from the Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance at Concordia University, Canada have argued that there is no empirical evidence that indicates classroom instruction benefits students when compared to alternatives. 

What’s pivotal about the rising popularity of remote learning is, it can completely change the way that education as a sector is conceptualised. For example, what is traditionally assumed is that when someone looks to pursue tertiary education—i.e, a master degree—that person would have to take time off their daily responsibilities to do so. Obviously, this is because they would have to accommodate the rigours of physically attending university and such. 

This has deterred a significant number of people from pursuing higher levels of education, as they feel that they cannot afford to take time off from work, much less relocate to where their preferred university is situated. Remote learning can poise as a solution to this problem. With recorded—or even live-streamed—lectures, students are then able to learn whenever and wherever they want. This allows them to fit in their learning schedule around their work tasks. 

This may open up the possibility for life-long learning, which is absolutely essential for employees to maintain relevance and competitiveness in a world that is continuously being disrupted. With the increasing availability of online learning, we hope to see a trend of higher learning becoming integrated with our daily lives and not as separate from it.

Considering remote learning for your employees? CFTE has pioneered a framework of assisted online learning to assist its partners in building their knowledge in Financial Technology whilst supporting their digital transformation process. Click here for more information.

Are you interested in Education Technologies? Join us during our Online Conference on EdTech to learn from leading experts and connect with other professionals. Find out more and register here. 

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