Perhaps the best word to describe the state of higher education in 2021 is “turbulent”. Of course, the Covid-19 pandemic has reshaped many areas of our life sparing no industry or economic sector, but education has taken an especially hard hit. It met the pandemic already facing a crisis of prohibitively high costs.
As a result of the pandemic, college education was forced to adopt new standards, practices, and technologies. Let’s see how colleges and universities try to continue providing quality education while struggling to accommodate social distancing requirements and technology challenges while keeping costs within reasonable limits.
Online education has been around for quite some time as a more flexible and less costly option as compared to in-person education. The onset of Covid-19, however, pushed online education into the limelight making it effectively the primary option of continuing the educational process without putting both teachers and students at risk.
According to the statistics, the market of online education saw a 200% growth in the past three years. Some of it can naturally be attributed to the pandemic, but it is also part of a broader trend of people recognizing the benefits of this education format.
The demand for hybrid education has grown tremendously during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many governments imposed social distancing restrictions requiring companies and organizations to implement remote operations to the broadest extent possible. These requirements affected educational institutions as well, forcing them to take their learning programs online.
Hybrid education combines online and in-person learning, creating a flexible solution that allows leveraging the benefits of offline education while taking the necessary antivirus precautions. Many students find e-learning to be less efficient as compared to the traditional offline format. For others, it is difficult to afford the hardware and software required to attend online classes. In such cases, hybrid learning becomes a near-perfect solution.
Students are not the only ones who struggle with the challenges of online education. Teachers, too, need to adapt to the new reality in more than one way. One of the major changes is in the way lectures are conducted. Online education is not very well suited to the “I talk – you listen” format. When students are not in the same classroom but somewhere behind various avatars on the screen, teachers need to restructure their lectures to keep students engaged, either by mixing practical exercises with theory or by establishing a permanent communication channel to receive feedback.
Another challenge is the inevitable need to introduce communication technologies enabling teachers to hold online classes. The market is full of communication tools, and it is often difficult to choose the one that will meet all requirements and be intuitive enough for both students and teachers to get started with. Many teachers will need at least basic training to start using tools and technologies in the education process.
High education costs and the necessity to resort to online learning often make students start thinking about whether the degree is actually worth all the trouble. For many professions, dedicated online courses may be enough to master the necessary skills.
This trend can increase the popularity of online education and boost the development of related learning programs, tools, and technologies. As a result, students will be able to obtain the education they need to get the job they aim for at a lower cost and much quicker.
MicroMasters, offered by colleges in the United States, are designed to help people graduate with a master’s degree in a specific field in a shorter time and at a lower cost than in regular master’s programs. With MicroMasters, a student can get their degree in under a year focusing on a specific skill and taking just the minimum number of courses.
The Covid-19 pandemic reshaped the employment situation significantly forcing people to make dramatic changes in their career paths. For many, this means learning a new skill or profession and fast. Here, MicroMasters can help tremendously, offering people an opportunity to gain new knowledge that is currently recognized by employers and can secure people new jobs.
MicroMasters are often offered in an online format allowing students to learn at their own pace and manage their time flexibly and efficiently.
Looking at the current situation college education faces, we can see one fundamental trend that is likely to continue even after the pandemic – online education is gaining momentum and will remain popular even when social distancing is no longer required. The world has recognized the flexibility, cost-savings, and efficiency of online education and is not likely to let it go.
In its turn, the rise of online education inevitably leads to the development of advanced learning and communication technologies and e-learning platforms. Today, we see learning programs implementing virtual and augmented reality and using data extensively to create the most engaging and useful student experiences. And, of course, in online education, the main focus is on quality, high-performance communication tools where colleges and universities can set up classes for their students.
Quickblox gives you a base on which you can build your own education application. Using QuickBlox API and SDK, you can create an entire feature-rich e-learning platform including web and mobile educational apps. QuickBlox includes all features and functions required to set up a comprehensive learning suite – audio and video calling, video conferencing, video streaming, and private and group chat that can optionally include moderation and file upload.
When you build an e-learning platform on top of the professionally developed and tested QuickBlox backend, you will get a fully functional online college where professors can present to students answering their questions in the process, students can upload their assignments, groups can share ideas, links, documents, and other media.
We welcome colleges and universities thinking of reshaping their educational environments and offering effective, flexible learning solutions through online courses to contact us for collaboration in developing online education platforms.