By Melissa Taljaard |
Online Universities, remote learning, and online courses are not foreign concepts, nor are they direct results of the recent pandemic we find ourselves in. However, online education demands are high; manufacturing of this product is so ‘hot’ right now that it is being called a driving force behind the 4th Revolution. But as we take a look back into history, we often see the rise and fall of revolutions; affecting the lives of millions. It is here where I find myself asking: how do we ensure that online education is a secure part of our future beyond this pandemic and beyond the 4th Revolution?
In my Google search of ‘how many courses have moved online 2020’, I was provided with 623,000,000 results in .39 seconds. This does not include organizations that are moving their training online. There is no doubt that EdTech is at its most relevant right now, and more than that, it is fast replacing what we know as conventional learning. According to education.org, 3,278 higher education institutions and 22.3 million students are estimated to be impacted by the recent outbreak of COVD-19 (1).
“[T]echnology will play a critical role in finding solutions to many of the challenges our world faces today. This year’s emerging technologies demonstrate the rapid pace of human innovation and offer a glimpse into what a sustainable, inclusive future will look like.”
– Jeremy Jurgens
(CTO, World Economic Forum)
Finding a Forever Solution
As we evolve how we deliver learning, we need to ensure we meet the needs of learners across the globe for our current situation and future generations. The only way we can ensure online education is a prominent part of our future is by making sure the quality of this product is timeless. ‘Coca-Cola,’ ‘Shell,’ and ‘Levi’ are brands that not only meet a basic human need but do so by making sure their footprint is lasting. This is what we need to consider when creating our online courses, to think of them more than a ‘hot and fast’ product’; but one that remains relevant through the ages.
We are moving fast to meet the high demand. Still, we also need to move slow by taking a step back and asking ourselves how this product reaches millions of people, meets their diverse learning needs, and promotes engaging and sustainable learning. We need to ask ourselves how our technology designs learning for every student: for the student who is a stay-at-home parent, the first-generation student, the career-changer, the inventor, and the future versions of these students. To design effectively, we really need to understand who we are creating for. The core of EdTech is not technology at all, but the human. We are in a global market, one requiring a universal product.
Our New Normal
The new normal is a phrase we hear more and more of lately. But what exactly does this mean, and more so, what does it mean for our future? And if education is our future, what is the new normal for our education system? Although we may not understand within the next year, one thing remains normal: the learner. As methods of learning advance, we must continue to make sure it cultivates inclusivity, accessibility, and affordability. It should not be a substitute but enrich lives and promote interactive and effective learning.
Project Manager at ,Construct