Tag: virtual learning

How Has Education and Virtual Learning Changed Because of the Pandemic?

Responses from Nader Qaimari, chief learning officer, ISACA.

Because most schools have moved to virtual learning environments in response to COVID-19, what are the likely long-term outcomes of this?

It’s important to distinguish between true distance or virtual learning and crisis virtual learning. Right now, yes, many organizations and schools have moved to doing everything virtually, yet we are not really where we need to be to say we’re truly virtual.

We are doing what we can, but not necessarily doing it correctly. I imagine that shortly after this crisis subsides, we will see a quick pendulum swing back to much more face-to-face interaction (as we all crave it) but then people will move to having serious discussions around what this means long-term. With my kids, for example, I am extremely interested in how we will measure the efficacy of distance learning. It’s not as easy to measure as parents who are working from home right now can’t monitor their children’s progress all day, like teachers can in a closed environment. More tools to facilitate that will be necessary, and more importantly, the adoption of those tools.

Will more schools embrace distance learning once we’re beyond the pandemic? If so, what will that look like? Will some educational entities move beyond physical classrooms altogether?

At a minimum, virtual learning will no longer be viewed as some elusive, experimental aspiration, but a true possibility – with limits. We are now a few weeks into a stay-at-home order for 80% of the population and I am pretty confident that if you ask most parents, they want their kids to go back to a physical classroom setting. The physical social interaction is key and the appreciation for teachers is at an all-time high. When you move to other areas of learning, however, like corporate learning, it seems that distance learning is a true possibility. It’s more convenient, more cost-effective and more efficient. As the organizations that deliver that content improve, and the technology improves, it doesn’t seem far-fetched to say that more corporate learning will continue to move to an online-only format.

I really think that it will not happen in our lifetime. There will be options to do that as an alternative, but I don’t think that will be the norm in the next few decades. Education does not move that fast, even after a crisis.

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

The goal is to recognize each for the value it brings. The technology should facilitate instruction and make it more efficient. The teacher/instructor should personalize it and make it stick. I have never subscribed to the belief that teachers would get replaced with technology. That is thinking about it incorrectly. Technology can help teachers become better, though. By removing the manual work and freeing up time, teachers can do what they do best – connect with students, engage them, and make sure they understand. That is why the classroom will be around for a long time. We crave that social interaction.

Providing Education In Troubling Times

Response Dr. Leah Hanes, CEO, Two Bit Circus Foundation

Because most schools have moved to virtual learning environments in response to COVID-19, what are the likely long-term outcomes of this?

Education just may get a much-needed revolution. Parents have been forced to know more about their child’s education than ever before. Students who are self-motivated and interested in learning, or just plain curious, will be fine. Those parents need only put the challenge in front of that child and the child will engage. A good approach for the parents of this child is to open the field of options — expose, prompt, respond, encourage and most importantly, get out of the way and let the child lead. 

For parents whose children don’t like school, don’t think they need it, find none of it interesting, this is where the deepest challenge exists. All of which may be the result of a faulty education system souring children. Take a look at the 20-30 somethings with kids in high school, middle school, and for that matter, elementary school, who are suffering from stress-related issues and are often described as rebellious, lazy, or checked-out. This group will likely see the greatest challenges in the aftermath of COVID-19. But then, this group was going to have the roughest time anyway. These are the parents who will be met with real challenges.

The parents who have success connecting or re-connecting with their child during this ‘stay at home’ order will have a different view of the future of the classroom. These parents will be navigating and creating an educational program that works for both the parent and the child. If the parents evaluate their level of engagement and acknowledge that they stepped up when needed, they will look at distance learning with less trepidation. If the child is given an environment in which to flourish, it is often this kind of comfort that nurtures curiosity. 

There will be a percentage of parents who may decide that the flexibility of distance learning is perfect for their family lifestyle. Others will miss the structure. If the student in the home is motivated to remain in a distance learning situation, they will be motivated to keep up with the work. The kids who are socially motivated will want to be with friends on campus. The less social group often find their communities online and distance learning is another version of that online world. 

Will more schools embrace distance learning once we’re beyond the pandemic? If so, what will that look like? Will some educational entities move beyond physical classrooms altogether?

I do think that many schools will be moving beyond the physical classroom. This is an opportunity for parents to help the child take agency over their education. They can agree on deliverables and the child can set the times they will work on those deliverables. They need to learn concepts and applications, what order that happens is only important with the basics. We need the child to know an alphabet, numbers, and we need them to be curious. Much of this will come naturally given the right environment.

Imagine distance learning from the perspective of a person who is medically not able to take part in the broader community. In the distance learning ecosystem, this person is on par with their classmates. No one needs to know any physical or medical challenges. Rural students could have access to education that was unavailable a generation ago. Distance learning blurs demographics. Offering education at the pace of the student without the stigma of a slower learner or (sometimes even more damaging) a gifted child.

Home school numbers have been growing without this pandemic. I do believe there will be challenges to school-as-usual once parents have a close eye on the education being offered to their children at their current institute. There was a joke floating around the Internet the first week of the stay-at-home initiative that said: “Millions of parents are about to learn that the teacher was not the problem.” This can be a painful lesson for a parent, and a deeper dive into the learning behaviors of their kids and how to improve these can help strengthen the overall education system, whether it be from a physical classroom or a digital environment 

I don’t see this as panic-stricken hype. I think it is a worthy question to consider. Should it go the way of the dinosaur? Do we really need kids educated by age? What if we had a range of topics that students were involved in and they worked with older and younger students to learn those skills, similar to the real world where we are charged with tasks that require us to work with people not only of different age brackets but different socio-economic realities, ethnicities, and so much more. What if the in-person-classroom goes away and kids gather in digital–classroom sessions with attendance dependent on interests that start with introductory information and travel up the chain to expert level. 

What is the future of classroom-based learning and the technology that plays a role in providing instruction?

Imagine the best teachers on each subject teaching millions of kids. There are teachers out there who will emerge as a result of this. Education for children that is compelling may come out of this quarantine. Education that is available to the child when the child’s interest is piqued may also be a positive outcome. We need educational options that inspire the student to keep coming back for more. An education system that has kids seeing themselves as inventors, as individuals with valuable ideas. A system that encourages learning by doing rather than by merely listening. All of this is productive.

We could come out of these next few months with parents who have a profound new appreciation for good teachers. We hope to come out of this experience with an entire society that has a new appreciation for the profession of teaching. Online curriculum with digital, in-person, or at least one-on-one meetings with an educational mentor/teacher/parent who can help the child meet the deliverables and work with the student to make and exceed their goals would offer a positive outcome for distance learning and students. 

School Technology In the Age of Uncertainty

Response from Louisa Childs, head of school, Dwight Global.

We’ve used an array of technologies over the years to meet our students’ needs, regularly incorporating feedback from students, parents, and educators along the way. We’re confident that online education can not only help students thrive, especially during challenging times, but can also be even more effective in certain circumstances.

The support and flexibility of parents and families is crucial to an online school’s success. That means, teachers should strive to make sure parents feel included just as much as students, and that their ideas on how to incorporate more real-world learning into their child’s education are encouraged.

The platforms we use at Dwight enable students to experience classes in the same way brick-and-mortar students do. For example, in language classes, we use Miro, a robust virtual white board tool, to create appealing visual materials for students. Our math teachers use another tool, Aww, which is also a whiteboard, to solve equations ‘on the board’ just as a teacher would in a physical classroom.

Just like brick-and-mortar schools, online schools can’t use a one-size-fits-all approach. To be successful, teachers must use different technologies for different age groups and skill sets.

Ultimately, even though education is facing a massive shift right now, our students’ core educational needs are the same: students need consistency and access to materials and technologies that engage them and help them empathize with each other. They need to know their voice matters.

Virtual Learning Environments In Response To COVID-19

Vikram Savkar

Responses from Vikram Savkar,  vice president and general manager, medical segment, Wolters Kluwer’s Health Learning, Research, and Practice business.

Because most schools have moved to virtual learning environments in response to COVID-19, what are the likely long-term outcomes of this?

Time in the classroom, small group interactions, labs, and so on will always remain an important part of the medical school experience. But medical school faculty have long employed an online component to their classes by capturing their lectures and posting them online and recording narrated PowerPoints for students to consult. And the current crisis is significantly expanding the demand for digital tools.  Many students left campus in such a hurry that they did not take textbooks home with them. As a result, we have had many schools that had not already subscribed to our digital learning tools inquire about how they can quickly get access. Wolters Kluwer responded by offering 90-day free access to these collections to help medical schools and students navigate through unprecedented and painful disruptions.

What faculty and students alike are discovering during this disruption, out of necessity, is that online medical education can be surprisingly effective. They are realizing that illustrated textbooks, quizzes and exams, medical board preparation, case studies and so on are all available through online tools, and in many cases these tools can open up new educational benefits.

Some products, for instance, allow instructors to assess how students are performing, and to zero in on students who may be struggling to grasp a subject, so that quick remediation can be employed. Even anatomy classes – which one might suppose could not possibly be virtualized – are being transitioned rapidly during the disruption to powerful visualization digital tools, and the instructors we are speaking to are surprised and delighted by how effective they can be.

When this disruption is past, and med students return to their classrooms in the fall, I doubt classrooms will fully return to “the way things were.”  My assumption is that, in the wake of COVID-19, medical schools will have begun a path of willing transition toward robust integration of digital learning tools into the curriculum, a path that will play out over several years but constantly accelerate.

Will more schools embrace distance learning once we’re beyond the pandemic? If so, what will that look like? Will some educational entities move beyond physical classrooms altogether?

The medical school curriculum has already undergone significant changes in recent years, incorporating team-based activities, problem-based learning and a flipped classroom approach. And as mentioned above, I do envision that uptake of online tools will now advance gradually beyond online lecture and narrated PowerPoint to encompass digital textbooks, assessment solutions, test prep tools, visualization platforms and so on, all of which will push some of the basal learning elements of medical school out of the classrooms and into the students’ private study time.

This transition will enable time in the classroom to be used even more than today as a forum for discussion and assessment, and a place to learn by doing in order facilitate mastery of advanced content. It may even free up more time for early-stage students to get practical, hands-on experience with patients, which is an increasing area of focus across the medical school community.  But all of this simply represents an evolution toward balancing the timeless strengths of classroom education (direct contact with expert instructors, peer learning and so on) with the benefits of digital tools (personalization, self-paced learning, immersive study).

As for pure distance learning, that is a more complicated question. I do think most medical schools will set up digital webcasting capabilities moving forward, so that if there are further disruptions and periods of social distancing, they will be able to rapidly and effectively transition classes to a distance mode. But I don’t envision many medical schools making a significant move toward pure distance education in the near future except during periods of massive disruption like the one we are experiencing now.  As I’ll cover in more detail below, the classroom and campus aspect of the medical school experience is core to what medical students learn and how they learn.

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Virtual Learning In the Age of Pandemic

Responses from Provost and vice president academic affairs, Dr. Pamela J. Gent, and interim associate provost, Dr. David H. Hartley, of Clarion University of Pennsylvania.

Because most schools have moved to virtual learning environments in response to COVID-19, what are the likely long-term outcomes of this?

Pamela J. Gent, Ph.D.Dr. Gent: All universities and colleges are going to be impacted financially because they have had to refund tuition, room, and board, and theyhave had to invest in online infrastructure. Universities and colleges cannotdo their traditional recruiting events and campus visit events, so this also can impact enrollment. Retention is an issue and some students, especially our lower income and first generation students, may not be able to return to school. They simply won’t be able to afford it. Or they may opt to live at home and continue to learn online. Some students, who had never done online learning, may find that they like online learning and will transfer to a school with online learning. I also think that some universities that were never in the online space in the past will move more aggressively into the space and we will see a plethora of online programs.

Dr. Hartley: Long term, the schools that have made the smoothest and most student centered moves to online will develop a strong positive reputation for this type of content delivery. Those who stumble, will have a PR battle to overcome. There is an “opportunity” here. Some large corporations have an internal culture that sees online learning, especially for-profit online institutions as sub-par. Because those executives are now being forced into telecommuting, are hearing from the students in their house how online instruction is working, we may see a greater acceptance of high-caliber graduates from online institutions, providing the rigor is maintained.

Q: Will more schools embrace distance learning once we’re beyond the pandemic? If so, what will it look like?

Dr. Gent: It depends. Distance learning is simply not part of the mission or the ethos of some universities. And, after this semester, some faculty and students have vowed that they will never teach or learn virtually again. Still others wille mbrace this opportunity to expand into new markets. This pandemic has spurred increased use of pay-for-services in online tutoring, online counseling, and other online support services. This will continue togrow.

Dr. Hartley: I believe that the “ice is broken.” Some schools will walkout of this and say, “Never again.” That’s a perfect response for that school’s climate and culture. Other schools will walk out of it and say, “Hey, we can do this!” In the end, opportunities for on campus, online, part-time, working adults, and life-long learners will expand.

Q: Will some educational entities move beyond physical classrooms altogether?

Dr. Gent: It depends. Some universities are taking such a big financial hit that they will need to close their physical classrooms and operate solely online. But eliminating all face-to-face classes will not guarantee financial success. For campuses in rural areas, there is little market for the land and buildings so universities cannot shed these. They will have to continue to do some basic maintenance of the physical plant. And, as many have discovered in the past month, maintaining an online infrastructure is costly in terms of equipment, server capacity, learning management systems, instructional designers, online student support systems, etc.

Dr. Hartley: Commercially backed programs with deep pockets may see an opening in the market to go national. I believe that opportunity is fairly limited. Regional institutions may seize this as an opportunity to expand and reach out to new populations of students. For a “bricks and mortar” institution to move to 100% online would be a stretch; however, online students are attracted to online programs that have grounding in a physical location withreal classrooms and resident faculty. There should be opportunities for schools to expand while maintaining their campus.

Q: Could in-classroom learning go the way of the dinosaur or is that panic-stricken hype?

Dr. Gent: It’s panic stricken hype. There will always be a market for students who want to have a four-year residential campus experience. We know, however, that this market is shrinking because 1) there are fewer traditional age students in most parts of the country, and 2) costs have increased to the point where more students are opting out of higher education altogether or opting out of the traditional live on campus model of higher education. That being said, this pandemic will fundamentally change in-classroom learning.  Technology will be more prominent. Learning management systems will used to supplement in-class learning. Students will demand more options.

Dr. Hartley: Humans are social beings. While I have friends I’ve made through Facebook connections, I also maintain friendships built through the“crucible” of academia and my time in the military. The gathering of folks andthe common effort/common experience creates bonds that aren’t easily replicatedthrough online learning. There are other models, for example bringing cohorts onto campus for short periods of time then releasing them to go back to their jobs and homes to continue learning. These cohorts help create the bonds offriendship and professional networks that can extend beyond the classroom. We automate and we innovate. There is a physical skill honed by doing titrations in a chemistry lab but … if industry has automated this task, then the value is in understanding the process, but not in a certain “skill set” one brings to an automated, industrial lab. There is also tactile learning in anatomy and physiology labs, biology labs, etc. Some of the laboratory sciences will be difficult to replicate for those majors. Flip side is, your average business major probably doesn’t need a biology class with a lab. Finally, students! High school graduates have a wide range of maturity and self-efficacy. Many struggle with the transition from high school to college. If we add the need to be a self-directed learner, becuase of  the nature of online learning, we will “spin off” those students who need that first or second year of classes to learn how to be a self-directed learner. All that to say, no. We will not see in-class learning disappear any time soon.

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

Dr. Hartley: Disruptions like this current pandemic, will foster some real innovations. What are they? If I knew I’d invest in them and make up some of the losses in my retirement fund! Blended classes (some students participating or watching online, some students in the classroom) are already happening at Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Yet, there needs to be betterways to deliver this kind of instruction. The idea of watching a 50 minute lecture online … please, no. So how do we innovate this? Who does the innovation? Professors are rarely thespians, producer, director, humorist, screen play author, AND well-respected subject matter expert with a wealth of peer reviewed journal articles in their field. There is certainly potential growth in the area of “content delivery.” How do we create an environment where professors can teach and expand the research in their field, yet students can have the content delivered in a way that best suits the student’s learning style? Clarion University of Pennsylvania is a teaching institution. The interaction between student and professor is key to why we attract certain students and certain professors to our university. So we have to figure out how to do all of this technology while maintaining the culture of the institutionand the personal touch our professors and students enjoy.

Long-Term Effects of Education and Technology In The Time of COVID-19

Repsonse by Kemp Edmonds, marketimg and technology leader, Digital Media Academy.

Kemp EdmondsBecause most schools have moved to virtual learning environments in response to COVID-19, what are the likely long-term outcomes of this?

We work with a lot of educators and educational leaders in our business the emergence of blended learning is something we see as a long term outcome of this. Blended learning refers to learning in which students learn via electronic and online media as well as traditional face-to-face teaching. As most students will likely be using online learning more often for the coming weeks they will develop more of an ability to consume information and learn online.

Blended learning provides educators incredible opportunities to use at home/online/electronic learning to provide more impactful hands-on learning in the classroom. We are optimistic that schools, educators, and learners who make the most of this shift we see long term dividends down the road. Students need to embrace self-directed learning via online methods now more than ever and this “forced” virtual learning scenario is likely to improve and expedite that process.

Will more schools embrace distance learning once we’re beyond the pandemic? If so, what will that look like? Will some educational entities move beyond physical classrooms altogether?

We believe that many schools will embrace distance learning/virtual learning environments more once the pandemic is over. We don’t think it will be a large change or a wholesale change, but depending on the students, educators, and the institutions we expect to see a shift for many students to more blended learning environments. We are an education provider, but are not like a traditional school as we provide intensive hands-on learning in person at North America’s best universities via seasonal technology camps. For us, this time is speeding up our strategic plan and need to adapt to provide learning online, anywhere, at any time.

In traditional schools, we expect to see, where enabled by digital equity: devices and connectivity for all students, some activities shifting to online delivery. The biggest challenge we see for traditional educational institutions is that learners who are not engaged in their learning strongly require in-person educational opportunities to learn.

It will be much easier for private and non-traditional educational institutions to move beyond physical classrooms altogether while traditional educational institutions may see little to no net change. A major part of what schools provide isn’t just in the education it’s in the care of our children while we work.. We can’t discount the value of that part of the service.

Could in-classroom learning go the way of the dinosaur or is that panic-stricken hype?

No. As shared above “learners who are not engaged in their learning strongly require in-person educational opportunities to learn.”

There is huge value in online education and humanity has yet to truly tap into that opportunity. This time provides an opportunity to force everything to try, deliver, and experience online education for the first time. Change takes time.

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

We are optimistic that educators and students alike are becoming more adept and adapted to virtual learning environments. The future of classroom-based learning is a blended learning environment where lectures become something you watch for homework and hands-on projects and group activities happen in person.

The Time Has Come For More Virtual Learning

Steven Hausman, Ph.D.Responses from Steven J. Hausman, Ph.D., president, Hausman Technology Presentations.

Your query is very timely and appropriate. I feel that the COVID-19 tragedy will only accelerate what has already become a trend. Let me address your questions individually. Because most schools have moved to virtual learning environments in response to COVID-19, what are the likely long-term outcomes of this?

I believe that the long-term outcome will likely be a move to even more virtual learning than that which currently exists.  This is the logical extension of the increased use of artificial intelligence in higher education. Current examples include:

Will more schools embrace distance learning once we’re beyond the pandemic? If so, what will that look like? Will some educational entities move beyond physical classrooms altogether?

I think that once the schools have experienced successful distance learning they will see that it has many benefits. For example, schools that have only physical classrooms are generally limited to students from a constrained geographical region. If students from outside that region wish to attend then they must usually physically relocate to the school. With distance learning, however, that relocation will no longer be necessary.

The University of Maryland, has recently rebranded itself from the University of Maryland University College to the University of Maryland Global Campus in recognition of the fact that it now has more than 90,000 students across the world and is one of the longest distance-learning institutions in existence.

In addition, distance learning can increase both the numbers and diversity of students receiving an education. It can also be of great benefit to the educational institution financially since it is conceivable that more individuals of different ages would take advantage of the learning opportunities offered.

Could in-classroom learning go the way of the dinosaur or is that panic-stricken hype?

I feel that classroom education will not go the way of the dinosaur in the near future but that we will attain a new equilibrium with a combination of both classroom education and distance learning depending on the subjects being taught. It would be difficult, for example, for a student to obtain hands-on laboratory experience for science courses with distance learning alone while an English course could more easily be taught that way.

What is the future of classroom-based learning and the technology that plays a role in providing instruction?

The future of classroom-based learning is by no means terminal but it will incorporate many the new technologies that have become available. Some examples include: