Online education is not a new concept, and courses and resources have gradually migrated to the digital realm over the course of the last few decades.
However, the recent pandemic caused a significant acceleration in the number of students choosing to study entirely remotely.
It’s an intriguing trend, and one which shows no signs of reversing even as the COVID-19 crisis recedes in many regions, so let’s look into the main facets involved and the way this will continue exerting its influence going forward.
The initial scrabble to switch to online learning
In the first days, weeks and months of the pandemic, when lockdowns and quarantine conditions were rolled out across huge swathes of the globe, access to bricks and mortar educational and training facilities became impossible for many.
This forced institutions of all shapes and sizes to make the leap to providing online learning almost instantly. Many did not have the infrastructure or resources in place to achieve this, resulting in short-term disruption and also disgruntlement among many students.
Things eventually settled down, and educators got to grips with the tools needed to host seminars and lectures remotely. However, for students who had signed up to courses that were originally supposed to be taught in-person, there was still a sense that they were not getting value for money in this brave new world of online learning.
Students taking whole degree courses online
The issues brought about by the pandemic in the education sector also created opportunities and avenues for innovation. One example of this is typified by the rise of students completing entire degrees online.
Providers like RMIT University demonstrated an aptitude for adaptability by catering to those who were not just happy to embrace remote learning, but were actually in a good position to benefit significantly from this arrangement.
Online learning in the post-COVID era has come to stand for social mobility and the importance of accessibility in education.
While in the past students would have needed to travel great distances to study, and incurred significant additional costs in the process, being able to go through a fully fledged degree course from the comfort of your home is now an affordable reality for millions.
The diversification of resources and materials
Another point to make about the rise of online learning during and after the pandemic is that it has stimulated the creation and improvement of digital resources aimed at students.
From video lectures and online journals to virtual conferences and social tools, so many more barriers have been brought crashing down by this movement.
Furthermore, the precedent has now been set, and so courses and study materials are being designed around online learning, rather than this being an afterthought.
Preparation for the world of work
While some people study for the sole purpose of expanding their mind, most do so with a view to furthering their professional ambitions.
It could once have been argued that online learning is not as effective as face-to-face education, given the nature of the job market in the pre-pandemic epoch. However, today everything from the hiring process to the day-to-day experience of working for a modern business has been altered to accommodate remote interactions.
As such the students who study online and even graduate entirely remotely will be perfectly attuned to the environments they’ll encounter and the challenges they face once they find their first job after their education is complete.
It’s a transformative state of affairs, and so you can expect online learning to remain relevant and indeed gain traction with time, catalyzed by the pandemic but not solely caused by this catastrophe.