The pandemic changed the world in many respects, and one of the most affected sectors was—and still is—the educational system. Schools, universities, and other traditional institutions worldwide had to close their doors and send their students home.
While some of them were able to move their classes online thanks to pre-existing remote platforms quickly, most authorities and teachers were caught off guard and unprepared. Struggling to catch up and provide effective solutions.
Importance of Online Education Platforms After a Pandemic
What is the impact of social distancing in education? Can we explore some implementations of educational video platforms that have proved to be successful over the past year?
The New Reality of Remote Learning
We already know that e-learning can be very effective because students can tailor their own experiences to make the process more enjoyable.
—The Key: Students learning at their own schedule and pace, with the possibility of going back, skipping, or re-reading when they need or want to.
However, for students to be able to learn at their own speed—it’s critical to have access to the right technology, IT structure, and digital knowledge. In this case, when the pandemic hit the world, both educators and students were suddenly forced to relocate the school to their homes—learning on-the-go how to make the new remote learning experience work.
How Did the ‘New Reality’ of Digital and Remote Learning Impact Education?
For one thing, the teacher-student interaction is different in a virtual class. In a classroom, instructors are constantly making adjustments to their lessons in response to how students react to them. Something that’s much more difficult to achieve through a camera, especially when it comes to identifying someone that could need extra support.
Another important factor is the attention element, particularly with younger students. It can be pretty easy for teenagers and kids to get distracted, doubly so if you consider that the Internet and social media platforms are only a click away. That alone may result in low or more limited interaction levels during the socially distanced class.
To Be Effective, Online Classes Need to Be Presented and Structured Differently
It’s important to remember that learning works because (and when) it’s a social and engaging activity. Therefore, teachers need to adapt their lessons to enhance the virtual experience and make it more interactive, for example, using compelling educational videos or interactive slide presentations.
Ultimately, the goal is to motivate students and encourage them to get involved online or not. So, integrating fun games and activities to apply what they’ve learned, or assigning hands-on projects that they can do at home, has become more important than ever.
Also, good and constant communication is vital. Educators should take advantage of the many collaboration tools available and create a more class-like social-learning environment. For example, using chat groups, video meetings, and document sharing to regularly reach out to students and be present.
UNESCO’s Vision of Online Education and Flexible Learning Pathways
Higher education—universities and other tertiary institutions—has never been more diverse. In addition to “traditional” students, there are part-time learners, older people going back to school, and international students—all with different objectives, challenges, and needs.
As a response, UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning presented a project—which includes eight in-depth country case studies—to guide institutions to identify tools that can support flexible learning pathways. That is, an educational system that allows entry and re-entry points at all ages and educational levels, links between formal and non-formal structures, and validation of knowledge or skills obtained from informal education.
Within the new post-social distancing context, there are many examples of flexible learning and online education that can be taken from the project and applied to the new normal.
For example, in India, there’s a platform—SWAYAM—with access to multiple online courses that are recognized by several higher education institutions. A student entering a university can transfer credits from those online courses and complete an academic program.
On a similar note, the Open University Malaysia offers super flexible education programs so that students can tailor their studies at their own convenience. Basically, it provides online learning programs, digital tutoring, forums to communicate with teachers and peers, and credit transfer from previous education.
Now, implementing online education (while ensuring quality) is not an easy task. Besides all the important issues related to technology and connectivity, not all classes can be successfully supported by digital technology, for example, practical science or lab-based programs.
However, making e-learning part of the present—and future—of higher education seems to be the way to go—Especially when it comes to creating new, more effective methods that can allow more flexible education in terms of delivery and access.
Distance Learning Solution’s Spotlight: Online Education at Its Best
Online education can “take” many forms—eBooks, real-time classes, video courses, online interactive activities, and so on. Now, given that the format is super versatile, engaging, and helps you convey a lot of information in a short amount of time, we’ve chosen examples of online education done with video. Some of them are more simple and were self-produced, while others were developed by talented educational video creators.
What do they all have in common? First, they showcase the amazing power and versatility of these tools when implemented correctly.
Few things are more compelling, creative, and memorable than animation, especially when combined with solid storytelling. It doesn’t matter how abstract, flat, or hard-to-grasp a concept can be; using animation, you can make the message more approachable, engaging, and understandable. Like this educational video that thoroughly covers the topic of inbound marketing in less than three minutes!
Live Lectures Recording
Recording a lecture and then uploading it to a YouTube tutorial, Instagram how-to video, or a remote platform is another great and simple way to make online education happen. Here’s an example of how the Department of Political Science at Duke University does it.
They film each class and then upload the material on both YouTube and their website,—making it accessible not only for students that missed the class but also to anyone interested in the subject!
These videos almost look like a traditional class—where a teacher does the boardwork while “talking” to an audience—but they’re pre-recorded. They can be beneficial for technical subjects that include graphics, sketches, symbols, etc.
Here’s a short piece developed by Northwestern University explaining why they use it for their online lectures.
Marrying slides with a lecture to explain a subject or topic is one of the most common online learning methods. Lecture slides resemble a PowerPoint presentation, but it’s narrated, making the content much more dynamic and easier to follow.
Take this example produced by the School of Public Health from the University of Michigan to explain the US healthcare delivery system—It’s simple yet very clear.
Screencast technology is perfect for demonstrating how to use complex software or explaining highly technical topics, such as math problems or equations. For example, the following video was developed to apply matrix operations in Mathematica, a technical computing system.
Offering a more flexible education—especially in terms of delivery—was unavoidable, especially after COVID-19.
However, only a small percentage of institutions were able to quickly adapt to this sudden change and provide proper online education—revealing that the educational system in most countries of the world is falling behind, at least in terms of IT structure and connectivity.
There’s no doubt that implementing online education is not something that can be done overnight. There are many challenges, not only technologically but also socially.
Hopefully, this pandemic will result in a broader change in education and how it’s approached—transitioning from traditional learning methods to new, more flexible, and inclusive alternatives.
By Victor Blasco