The Future of Online Learning

Responses from Adrian Ridner, CEO and co-founder, Study.com.

Adrian Ridner | CEO and Co-founder of Study.comWill more schools embrace distance learning once we’re beyond the pandemic? 

Absolutely. It’s paving the way out of necessity. This situation forced schools and districts to consider how technology can work hand in hand with teachers. I don’t think online learning will replace the in-person, teacher-student relationship, but we are seeing how it can extend learning beyond the classroom. Stress-testing system capabilities for the future including the infrastructure and specifics like Single Sign On are now fully utilized and tested – creating habits of how to evolve learning moving forward.

If so, what will that look like? Will some educational entities move beyond physical classrooms altogther?

We won’t see physical classrooms disappear, but a blend of synchronous and asynchronous learning will take place. I’ve heard from districts that say online learning is really helping the students blend the two as students can do things now like rewind their teacher to hear a specific thought again. Also, I think you will see platforms expand their accessibility by offering multiple modalities. For example, Study.com is a mobile-first platform, but also provides more traditional learning tools such as downloadable worksheets and transcripts. Video-based online learning will continue to expand, whether that is a web conferencing tool such as Zoom that allows teachers to virtually interact with students or curriculum that is packaged into engaging video lessons.

I don’t believe online learning will completely take over in-class learning, but it will continue to become a vital part of how students learn. I think this current situation challenged schools and districts to not only provide short-term solutions for virtual learning environments, but to consider how to implement a hybrid classroom approach utilizing technology and human interaction. The mass adoption that has been enabled by this situation will break down barriers and make schools less apprehensive to adopt technologies moving forward – something that prior to this had been a slow moving process.

These new ways of learning are creating access, personalization of learning and new technology to help teachers and parents, creating opportunity to re-imagine the classroom learning and give teachers more tools in the tool kit. Technology can really bring lessons to life through video-based learning. This pandemic has shown that it’s time to re-imagine what you can do with a physical classroom.

In essence, what is the future of classroom-based learning and the technology that plays a role in providing instruction?

The future will be a lot of mix and matching of the best of both worlds. There are ways of learning and discussions that are better designed for in the classroom, but now everybody has more learning technology to fuel lessons taught in the classroom. For example, history lessons in a video format are much easier to visualize and become stickier for the learner than a textbook or lecture.

There are also a lot of considerations including equity, quality, flexibility and adaptability. Fourteen percent of households with school-aged children do not have access to the internet, and creating technology, such as a mobile-first platform that can be accessible to these families will be paramount. This situation has forced the education industry to work on closing the equity gap – providing 1:1 student to device access.

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