The challenges of the pandemic have been acutely felt in the world of higher education, with disruption to teaching and setbacks for students at every stage of their studies.
Thankfully universities and colleges have had time to make changes to accommodate the obstacles thrown up by the coronavirus crisis, and most experts expect that many of these will be permanent even after normality returns.
Here is a look at the nature of these tech-fueled adaptations and the benefits that they are providing for educational institutions of all sizes.
Remote & hybrid learning are being embraced
A report into the use of IT solutions for universities revealed that the main response higher education is having to the pandemic is to move away from on-campus, in-person teaching and instead adopt alternative approaches that are partly or wholly reliant on tech.
70% are set to make the move to a hybrid strategy in the coming academic year, making use of face-to-face meetings between students and staff where it is safe to do so, while falling back on remote learning resources, such as virtual classes and seminars, as is necessary based on ever-changing restrictions.
Meanwhile 22% said that they would be pivoting almost entirely towards a remote learning-focused configuration in the coming months. This is the more cautious option, yet one which could pay dividends given the ongoing uncertainty.
Ultimately it is not just about keeping students and faculty members safe, but also providing them with the flexibility to make their own choices. It also allows higher education institutions to appeal to overseas students, even if they may not be able to actually receive them on-site due to travel limitations. This provides universities with access to a much needed revenue stream which might otherwise have been snatched away from them.
Content creation is key
Academics are adapting in a number of ways to deliver education to students during the pandemic, and in effect they have had to become content creators, making use of A/V equipment, editing software and a whole host of other digital resources to ensure that remote learning courses are just as informative and engaging as their bricks and mortar precursors.
Indeed IT tools like these have been crucial to providing students with the structured approach to learning that is even more potent at a time when they have been unable to leave their own homes.
Away from the impetus of on-campus learning, it is all too easy for procrastination to flourish and for distractions to draw students away from their studies, yet universities have leveraged the likes of video content, in addition to online lectures and work groups, to overcome this.
This has of course involved academics learning a lot of new skills themselves, and for some this proved problematic. But this goes back to the idea that the changes brought about by Covid-19 will be permanent; from now on, those responsible for teaching in higher education will be expected to have far more strings to their bow, from an IT skills perspective.
Cost savings are achievable
A side-effect of the switch to remote learning using IT tools is that universities are actually able to save money on teaching costs and on the offering of on-campus resources. These savings can then be passed onto students themselves, which is significant at a time when higher education is more expensive than ever before.
Ideally both higher education organizations and students will continue to benefit from these enforced changes brought about by the pandemic, with IT tools ensuring that learning is still possible no matter what hurdles emerge in the future.
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