Online courses: New phone, who’s this?
Prior to the pandemic, online courses were most often viewed as “less than”…lacking in sound pedagogy and without measurable and pedigreed outcomes. The subpar offerings of for-profit online institutions were frequently referred to as diploma-mills. But much as working from home has gained wide-spread acceptance, online learning has enjoyed a major rethinking.
Current research shows a big shift in the perception of online college courses. A recent survey found 73 percent of student respondents said the COVID-19 pandemic made them much more likely (52 percent) or somewhat more likely (21 percent) to consider online programs. While much of the debate around online learning has focused on what has been lost without the on-campus experience—and the impact has certainly been significant—educators and institutions have discovered that intentionally designed online learning can achieve levels of engagement that are on par with in-person courses, and far exceeds that of very large lecture-hall style courses.
And while not all courses and programs lend themselves to fully online learning, student expectations for technology in the classroom have fundamentally changed. Blended or hybrid learning is the new norm. Blended learning combines face-to-face teaching and online instruction. It’s supported by a technology framework that helps teachers organize course content, communication, and common workflows. Perhaps most importantly, it builds on the strengths of both approaches, offering the flexibility of remote learning with the engagement of face-to-face interactions.
Now as we create a blueprint for the “new normal” of many essential functions like school, adopting a consistent approach to technology-enhanced learning across the entire college or university is critical to addressing the next wave of challenges facing education.
Lifelong learning: It’s the journey, not the destination
Much has been made about the current decline in undergraduate enrollment in colleges and Universities across North America. The pandemic accelerated a trend that’s been going on for over a decade, exacerbated by the student debt crisis and fueled by skepticism in the long-term value of a degree. Many students began looking for alternate paths to high paying jobs, and in some cases companies like Google are actively looking to circumvent the traditional college degree program.