By Artur Meyster, Founder of Career Karma
South Coast College firmly withstood its ground not to offer any online courses because of the belief that on-campus courses were more effective. However, in March 2020, everything changed. In one-week, South Coast College had to replicate its offerings online and thanks to Microsoft Teams and SharePoint was able to do so. What South Coast College has learned from the experience is that students who see the opportunity that online provides have excelled during this unprecedented time despite the obstacles that have arisen during COVID19.
Thanks to Artur Meyster, Founder of Career Karma, for his insightful comments on “What COVID-19 Taught Us About Online Learning” and for providing a guide for the many schools and students having to meet this challenge.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced students and teachers to participate in online learning instead of meeting in person. Overall, teachers and students did a great job remaining agile and adapting as changes occurred. No one was ready for the quick transition of in-person classes to remote learning. After six months of learning remotely, the education industry learned the changes it needs to make to improve online learning.
Teachers and faculty are always working to improve the educational outcomes of their students. They don’t want any of their students to fail and want education to be an enlightening process that helps students realize their potential. As online learning becomes a preferred method for some, it’s important to focus on improving the online learning process.
Teachers Need Training to Teach Online
Teachers are just as new to online learning as students. Some instructors may have experience teaching classes online, but there is very little formal training for teachers on how to instruct an online class. Adapting an in-person teaching model to online teaching might suffice during the pandemic but fails to create a learning environment or take advantage of the tools online learning offers.
At higher levels of education, teachers often feel the need to be the expert in the room. These unprecedented times call for teachers to show a little humility as there are bound to be tech issues or other snafus that can derail a lesson. Younger students who are more familiar with video conferencing software are a good resource for troubleshooting tech issues.
Students at any certificate or degree level have a good gauge for how things are going. Students know what type of teaching works for them, and more importantly, what doesn’t. Teachers should check in with students to receive honest feedback for making online learning a more conducive vessel for everyone.
Courses Need to Be Checked for Quality
There are thousands of different online courses students can take to further their education. Unfortunately, even classes with the same title are vastly different from one another. The discrepancy from teacher to teacher and institution to institution needs to be corrected to improve the quality of online education. A certificate or degree from one university shouldn’t look dramatically different than the same certificate or degree at another. Education is a part of life where you get out what you put in. The best colleges and universities will demand a lot from their students. Those who want the highest quality education should read reviews and check for accreditations to ensure they are earning the best online degrees.
Discussion models and differentiated learning arrangements are easy to implement when teaching in-person. Teachers should still include peer learning and other collaborative teaching models to give students time to apply the learning material rather than memorize it.
The lack of personal interaction in an online class can make teachers and students feel distant from the learning community. An important part of earning certificates or degrees is communicating and collaborating with peers. Teachers and students need to build ways to communicate and build their relationships to create bonds that mirror in-person learning. Messaging and video conferencing software are great resources for facilitating conversations and relationship building.
Offer More Online Classes
After all, classes transitioned to online formats at the beginning of the pandemic. Faculty and administrators realized it was possible to offer all classes online. More online classes give students more options when deciding which classes to take. Online learning has some benefits over meeting in person. Recorded lectures allow students to revisit lectures or listen at 1.5x speed to consume information faster if it isn’t relative to the learner.
Increasing online classes gives more students access to life-changing education. Higher ed institutions should lean in on the online part of online learning and advertise to students outside of their market. Students and parents want to send their students to the best schools. Top-rated programs should be available to anyone willing to take the program, regardless if they live near the university.
Don’t Accept the Status Quo
Online learning is far from optimized. Technology is finding ways to increase our connectivity with other humans through online interactions. The massive switch to online learning gives academic researchers and school faculties thousands of data points to analyze and use for informed decisions to improve teaching and learning online.