The Corona-Virus pandemic has spurred adoption of distance learning at all education levels. In addition to the thousands colleges and universities, at least 124,000 K-12 institutions have closed, in accordance with Education Week reports. Primary and secondary schools and most colleges will need to plan for a future where classes can be quickly adapted to online or hybrid learning.
This mass transition will be a proving ground for online education. Until now, colleges’ online shifts have been steady, but slow. Student enrollment in online education has increased for the fourteenth straight year, according to the Online Learning Consortium, but in 2019 BestColleges survey on trends in online education, more than half of the two and four-year colleges surveys, there weren’t planning on increasing their online education budget.
Now schools are now rushing to fill the gaps in their online learning infrastructure. Melissa Venable, an online education advisor for BestColleges says, “There aren’t enough instructional designers and other learning support specialists to go around right now. These offices have not been a priority at all colleges and universities.”
If ad hoc digital solutions do not work for students and teachers, the experience could stymie online education’s future growth. As Venable points out, “This quick and mandatory shift may reinforce the most challenging aspects, leading some instructors to be less likely to adopt online education in the future.”
Ramping up online education under these circumstances may not be ideal, but as Venable notes, “the focus is not about experimenting with technology, but an emergency response”. This underscores the importance of supporting students in a wide range; academic and non-academic, at a distance”.
Institutions are now building our digital systems