The Covid-19 crisis has led to experimentations with “emergency remote learning” in the education sector. According to reports more than 1.6 billion students have been impacted since the educational institutions have to discontinue their on-campus learning programs. In adjusting to the new normal, institutions need to be proactive in developing an effective long-term virtual learning environment for the students.
As an education leader, you must redesign your courses around digital learning platforms. You need to make it more interesting and interactive for students rather than just giving two hours of monotonous lectures on videos.
Let’s explore what makes a digitally advanced institution different from a digital newbie and how as an educational leader you can identify your virtual capabilities to fit in the new learning ecosystem today.
1. Digital Newbies
Educational institutions that have insufficient essentials for online education and remote teaching are facing a huge challenge to smoothly run their learning programs. These institutions are the “digital newbies” who never thought of designing any learning program around digital platforms previously and stuck to the traditional on-campus learning. They have less than three percent of learning material online. They have never trained their teachers to conduct lectures online. These institutions lack sophisticated IT infrastructure to support their online learning programs during this crisis. The administration, faculty, and even students of these institutions lack access to software like collaborating tools, video conferencing platforms, and even fast internet access.
Today, advanced technology tools provide institutions a great opportunity to redesign their learning programs around digital platforms. It offers extensive internet connectivity, smart remote tools for communication, and user-friendly video calling apps for students and teachers to cost-effectively engage online. As an educational leader of digital newbie institutions, you must come up with a plan for remote teaching training for teachers to train them for effective teaching on digital platforms.
2. Emerging Adopters
The emerging adopters are those institutions who embraced the technology in their operations and learning programs long before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Yet, they are still in a nascent phase to deal with the challenges at hand since they have just experimented in small groups. These institutions have successfully re-planned their learning programs around digital platforms and have access to basic collaborating and communicating tools. At this point, these institutions have to uplift digital transformation by taking assistance from their departments who are successfully running remote teaching programs and implement it throughout the institute.
As an educational leader of emerging adapters, you need to provide authority, resources, and decision-making responsibilities to the early adopters of your institution and empower them to speed up the production of online learning material. Machine learning platforms like CourseMatch can help you align the relevant courses to the individual department's curricula. Finally, you need to constantly upgrade your software’s, on-campus and off-campus IT infrastructure to support virtual learning programs for students and come up with a different strategy for students who lack reliable internet connections.
3. Technology-driven Institutions
Technology-driven institutions are the ones that have an extensive IT infrastructure that can support e-learning programs for students. These institutions have well-trained faculty who are actively designing and running online courses for students. The digitally advanced institutions are characterized by having dedicated academic innovation departments responsible for planning and accelerating their digital learning strategies. The Covid-19 crisis has allowed these institutions to scale their IT infrastructure across every program using virtual learning tools to effectively coordinate with instructors and students.
As an educational leader for technology-driven institutes, it’s important for you to actively seek ways in innovating academic strategies to serve diverse virtual learning classrooms in the long run. The digitally advanced platforms help you create an opportunity for students to engage outside the virtual classrooms and improve their community engagements. For this, you can design and run study groups, virtual meetups, or happy hours where students can share lecture notes and discuss their learnings outside the virtual classroom. AR/VR technologies along with the content expertise of leading technology institutions can be used to enhance the virtual learning experience for both students and teachers both.
Considering the current situation, there are chances that students might not be able to attend regular on-campus educational programs for quite some extensive time. This is the right opportunity for higher education institutions to proactively nurture their e-learning ecosystem and improve their digital capabilities to smoothly run educational operations. The institutions need to realize that digital transformation is a risk mitigation plan for them. Hence, it will help them to continue enrolling, teaching, and serving students during these challenging times.
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