One of the many changes that COVID-19 brought about was a shift to online learning that happened almost right away. In this article, I wrote about “Online Learning Lessons That Should Stick After the Pandemic.”
Institutions worked hard all night to keep education going and close the gap between teacher and student.
Traditional teachers did a lot to adapt to the digital age. They recorded lessons, posted videos, and set up breakout rooms with whatever tools they had.
These projects led to physical classrooms that were connected to the internet and helped by technology, not to online education.
Even though these two choices look the same, they are not the same. Using technology to bridge physical distance doesn’t take into account the other changes that are needed to meet the needs of students.
Putting materials online and recording lectures and discussions is not enough to create a guided, collaborative, and supported learning environment.
So, what have we learned in general about online learning? So, what should we do now?
Online learning is not a new idea, and there are things we can learn from research and experience done in the past.
Athabasca University, where we all work as professors, was the first place in the world to offer online MBA, M.Nursing, and M.Ed programs. This was more than 28 years ago. It is now one of the most well-known online schools in Canada.
Online pioneers’ experience shows that four unique aspects of online learning should stick around after a pandemic. These are learning how to learn online, structuring online education with a goal in mind, integrating space and time online, and AI’s constant disruption.
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1. Using the Internet to learn
2. Planning online teaching with a goal in mind
Whether it’s in a classroom or online, a good way to teach and learn must give each student an active, interesting role.
Meaningful teaching depends on the setting and needs to be done in many different ways. Learner-centered, not content-driven, online courses and teaching design encourage active learning by putting a lot of focus on collaborative learning groups with a lot of student participation.
Making good online course materials takes months, not weeks, and requires instructors and professional course developers to work together.
The course materials are very thorough. Everything the teacher would say in a real classroom is written down, and there are links to readings, videos, and other internet resources for students.
Because of the epidemic, teachers had to switch from teaching in the classroom to teaching through technology. This worked for some, but it was hard to adapt to different students’ needs.
Along with online learning methods that improve active, collaborative, and learner-driven learning, technology tools and opportunities for both individual and group work should be brought back into the physical or hybrid classroom.
3. Online Mixing of Space and Time
4. COVID-19 caused the disruption to start, and AI will keep it going
As a result of the pandemic, teachers had to look for new ways to help students learn outside of the classroom. This showed how education practices might change.
We were able to start a co-op program at Athabasca even though there was a pandemic going on. This was made possible by a virtual co-op program.
No matter where they were, students could access a timed job simulation. While working on a project they were given, they got to practice working as a team, solving problems, resolving conflicts, making ethical decisions, and being leaders.
An AI coach gave students quick and detailed feedback, which gave them a lot of room to try things out and try again until they understood the concepts. This was done in a reflective conversation with the teacher.
Research shows that using online and AI tools require planning, a good digital infrastructure, and quick help for students.
When all of these steps are carefully planned and put into place, they make education more open, accessible, and inclusive than it was before.
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