Over the last several weeks, life has changed dramatically due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. As social distancing regulations continue to be in place at a worldwide level, students have rapidly transitioned from in-person classrooms to digital learning environments.
In fact, worldwide more than 90% of students in 190 countries are currently utilizing virtual education. As institutions pivot towards remote learning, a growing number of technologies have emerged to help students stay connected.
Due to the impact of COVID-19, educators have rapidly adopted new tools designed to keep students engaged and focused. As such, technology has become a necessity rather than an option for continuing education.
Virtual learning has become the “new normal” and many schools are skeptical if they’ll be able to reopen next year.
The culture of higher education has shifted towards technologies that encourage digital collaboration and connection among students and educators alike.
As students continue to utilize remote classrooms, the importance of virtual learning capabilities becomes even more apparent moving forward.
Advantages to Virtual Learning
The COVID-19 pandemic may prove to have a profound impact on the educational system as more institutions become indoctrinated with virtual classroom settings. As such, many universities have transitioned from conventional classrooms to remote learning out of stark necessity.
Although online coursework has existed for years, some educators have been hesitant to fully utilize digital learning environments until now.
Virtual learning offers certain advantages beyond conventional classroom settings such as:
- Smaller class environment: many university classrooms often have hundreds of students physically sitting at a single lecture hall. Digital classrooms offer an intimate type setting which may allow students to become more engaged and connected with educators.
- No physical location limitations: location often plays a role in determining where students attend school. Remote learning environments can allow students the opportunity to study at any location in the world without physically being present.
- Potentially more cost effective: moving forward universities may be able to reduce tuition expenses without having physical campuses in place. Reductions in staffing and overhead costs may in turn make education more affordable for the masses.
- Improved online instruction: for years, many schools have shied away from fully using digital classrooms. Due to COVID-19, the quality of online instruction may dramatically improve as blended learning becomes a focal point at every institution.
Fully integrating digital learning environments may take time, but the rapid adoption of new technologies will invariably help to ease the transition.
Rapid Technology Adoption
Educational institutions around the world have undergone a period of rapid transition from brick and mortar classrooms to virtual environments.
Due to the time-sensitive nature of COVID-19, many schools and universities had to quickly adopt new forms of digital learning and communication technologies.
Creating a seamless transition from the classroom to the computer requires relying upon a number of digital tools. Video conferencing applications such as Zoom and Google Hangouts have become platforms to help keep students engaged and connected.
Online learning systems also have helped to provide digital access to coursework and other required curriculum materials.
Transitions of this magnitude would typically take months or years to accomplish. However, as COVID-19 spread across the world, students and educators collaborated together synchronously to help optimize remote learning capabilities.
More than anything else, COVID-19 has helped prove that people can quickly respond and adapt to change if necessary.
The Future of Virtual Learning
The future of distance learning has become clear as more students have shifted towards online learning. Although students have used online learning tools in the past, nobody could have predicted the instantaneous impact of COVID-19.
As schools continue to embrace online learning, a newfound appreciation for technology continues to emerge. During these times, keeping students engaged and connected is a vital element to learning.
Parents and educators must work closely together to optimize learning environments for students. As schools continue to embrace new learning technologies, additional tools will become available to help keep students and educators connected.
Schools and universities are continuing to utilize remote classroom environments in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines. These new technologies will likely have a profound impact on future learning institutions as we continue through COVID-19 and beyond.