5 Ways the Pandemic is Changing Learning

With the world rapidly shifting to distance learning, our views on education have also significantly changed. Educators the world over have been forced to reconsider their approach to teaching and students are finding that some approaches work better than others. Here’s how the pandemic is changing learning:

Creativity Abounds

Student engagement has always been a struggle for teachers, whether in-classroom or on-screen. However, to offset the admittedly dry nature of online lectures, educators have started to get more creative. Chemistry students at Calvin Coolidge High School in Washington, D.C. are enjoying efforts by teacher Jonte Lee to liven up their lessons by doing chemistry experiments from his kitchen and answering questions in real-time via Instagram. That’s just one example of how teachers are getting creative in their online classes.

Less Lecturing, More Discussing

It’s a proven fact that students learn better when they ask questions, but decades of traditional learning have discouraged students from “interrupting” their lecturers, cutting back this behavior. However, online learning platforms have allowed students to break this barrier. Dr. Amjad, a professor at The University of Jordan, who has been using Lark to conduct his lessons, explains that the platform has allowed him to reach out to his students more efficiently “through chat groups, video meetings, voting and also document sharing, especially during this pandemic. My students also find it is easier to communicate on Lark. I will stick to Lark even after coronavirus, I believe traditional offline learning and e-learning can go hand in hand.”

New Ways to Gain Real-World Experience

There’s no denying the importance of real-world experience in learning – it’s why many institutions require their students to take internships with accredited companies before graduation. With quarantine and travel restrictions still in place in many countries, however, gaining this real-world experience has been hard. Some institutions have found ways around this by utilizing technology. Students taking Maryville University’s online computer science programs are given the opportunity to experience real-world scenarios through their Cyber Fusion Lab, which has been distinguished by Apple for mobile innovation. Educators are finding creative ways to get around complex problems, and these could lead to better experiences for students even after the pandemic ends.

Personalized Gamification

The gamification of lessons has long been proven to be an excellent way to augment student learning, as it enhances student engagement much in the same way games do. However, recent studies have found that the effectiveness of gamification largely relies on the individual personalities of the students. Undergraduate students taking a computing course in a university in Rio Grande do Sul took part in a study that revealed that the effect of gamification of lessons through online learning platforms depended on the specific personalities of the users. This helps teachers better plan their lessons, taking the personalities of their students into account. We no longer believe in a “one-size-fits-all” lesson plan; instead, personalization is key.

The Prominence of Inter-Institution Collaboration

No longer held back by physical boundaries, teachers are finding new ways to collaborate amongst themselves to create better lessons for students worldwide. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has already released a compendium of resources for teachers collaborating across institutions and countries in support of students’ opportunity to learn. Fernando Reimers, professor of Practice in International Education at Harvard University and director of the Global Education Initiative collaborated with other educational institutions and non-profits like HundrED.org to create a resource for teachers all struggling with the same problems: how to enable students to reach their potential despite the current barriers to education. Through their efforts, teachers are able to better collaborate and improve the experiences they give to their students.

The challenges the pandemic has brought to education may seem daunting at first. However, with enough research, preparation, and a dash of creativity, educators can ensure that their students get the support they need in these trying times. Interested in improving your own online courses? Read up on our post on ‘How to Structure Your Online Course in 3 Easy Steps’.

Written by Alicia Coolidge

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