How COVID-19 is Forcing Higher Education to Go Online

The global spread of the novel coronavirus is forcing institutes of higher education to implement online learning programs. To stop the spread of the virus, schools were shut down, and many college students were forced to put their degrees on hold.

Nation-wide orders to shut down schools left many college and university students stranded with no way to finish the semester or quarter. Schools that already had distance learning in place were able to offer some classes online even on short notice. However, colleges and universities without an existing online learning program had no easy way to help students complete the school year remotely.

 

Most universities will provide online courses after this pandemic

Any educational institute caught in this coronavirus pandemic without online learning capabilities will undoubtedly be implementing remote courses by the time school is back in session. While the coronavirus pandemic is prompting some universities to make the switch, it’s a vital change that many have already made.

As of 2014, nearly 30% of college and university students in the United States were enrolled in distance learning. This number grew rapidly through 2018, and now more than a third of all students take at least one course online. That’s one in six students. The number of students who enroll exclusively online is now more than 15%.

While nobody saw this pandemic coming, institutions with online learning programs were inadvertently prepared. For others, the need for online learning is hindsight, but making the change is better late than never.

 

The coronavirus highlights the benefits of online learning

The benefits of online learning have always been visible, but the urgency of the current situation makes those benefits stand out. With active self-isolation, quarantine, and social distancing measures in place across the world, online learning is the only option.

Allowing students to learn from home over the internet provides several key benefits:

  • Students don’t need to leave the house. Streaming online classes from home supports students who take care of a family, share a car, or have to work odd hours.

  • Infected students can learn without putting others at risk. During a pandemic or an epidemic, infected students can complete their courses while quarantined in their homes. This also applies to students who live with an infected person.

  • The institution saves money. While setting up classrooms to produce online courses costs money upfront, it saves money in the long run. For instance, classrooms set up to record live lectures can be used by multiple professors throughout the day to either broadcast live courses or record lectures for later use.

If 50 professors need to broadcast and record lectures, instead of requiring 50 individual rooms, they can share a fraction of that amount. Any existing, unused rooms can be used for other purposes. When more universities and colleges adopt online learning platforms, they’ll see expenses drop considerably.

 

What about degree programs that can’t be completed 100% online?

For some degree programs, all courses can be completed online. For instance, computer programming, website development, and graphic design are just a few examples of programs that don’t require in-person training to complete. However, medical programs require hands-on classroom training.

While clinical training can’t be done remotely, medical schools can publish clinical simulation videos for students to watch from home. Students will still be required to complete hands-on training eventually, but watching simulation videos that include instructor feedback will prepare them for that hands-on training.

 

Some colleges are winging it with remote learning

While some colleges are expanding their existing online learning platforms to accommodate students during the pandemic, other colleges are winging it with a less-structured form of remote instruction.

Some students are being asked to join a private email list for each class to receive coursework, and to then email assignments directly to the instructor. It’s not an optimal system, but these institutions have no choice but to work with the technology they have.

 

Online learning will thrive after the coronavirus pandemic is over

If it looks like online learning is only a phase, think again. There are plenty of reasons online learning will remain popular when the coronavirus pandemic is over.

  • Convenience never goes out of style. Many people want to attend college on a university campus but can’t reasonably get there every day. Our lives today are busier than ever, and people who have work and family obligations can’t always pursue higher education. That is, unless the education takes place online.

  • More people are becoming self-employed. Some self-employed people won’t have time to attend college on a regular schedule. Depending on the industry and the nature of the work, a regular college schedule might be impossible. Online courses that can be reviewed at a student’s own pace will solve all schedule conflicts.

 

COVID-19 has made online learning a priority

In the wake of COVID-19, colleges and universities are reassessing their online programs, and those without existing programs are making fast plans to go online. It’s now clear that the future will be unforgiving to institutions without online learning programs.

 

Online learning platforms will continue to evolve

Like all aspects of technology, online learning platforms are constantly in a state of evolution. In the early 2000s, some colleges and universities began offering online courses in limited capacity. These courses were simple; students received a downloadable PDF syllabus, instructions for each week’s lesson, and the teacher’s email address for turning in assignments.

Today’s online learning model is more advanced with live lectures broadcast over the internet, archived video presentations for review anytime, and powerful group collaboration software. However, this model is always evolving as new technologies emerge that promise a better experience. One of those technologies promising a better experience is the Video Audio Learning Tool (VALT) from Intelligent Video Solutions.

 

VALT technology is the future of video learning

VALT is a flexible video platform that has been proven to enhance and improve the learning process. With VALT, educational institutions can stream and capture live presentations and lectures that are ready to be exported immediately.

If you’re looking for a secure way to produce remote learning materials, VALT is the ideal solution. Curious? Learn more about VALT by requesting a demo.

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