Covid-19 and the remote world of education

Transitioning tech to a new normal

Transitioning tech to a new normal

In the last few weeks, we’ve all been thrust unexpectedly into a remote world and organisations have had to adapt quickly to survive.

In higher education, professors and students have suddenly had to rely on technology and tools to enable them to deliver a teaching and learning experience.

Before, technology was used to enrich the learning experience but at the moment it’s the only way learning organisations can continue to support their students.

But what are the long-term effects of this? How will behaviours and ways of working permanently change when we all go back to normal? The answer: no one really knows, but these are my thoughts.

What’s going to happen with digital transformation?

At Ascentae, we talk a lot about ‘digital Transformation’. In 2019 this was one of the biggest areas of focus for higher institutions looking to improve facilities and the overall quality of teaching for their students.

A range of digital initiatives were implemented, from digitising paper processes to installing solutions to improve audio capture in lectures and seminars for remote students.

Whilst Covid-19 will have a major impact on digital transformation for many industries, higher education is better positioned than most. Many colleges and universities have already embraced the use of technology and offered instruction online to provide distance learning options or to complement onsite courses.

The ‘emergency adoption’ we’re seeing right now may well speed up the adoption rate and open up new opportunities for ‘technology enabled learning’. But a word of caution: whilst this may be a chance for universities to show versatility, they must get it right – investing in the wrong tools could put users off technology and negatively impact adoption in the future.

What does the time frame look like?

The effects of Covid-19 are likely to be felt for some time to come, particularly for those businesses that operate globally. So, like most organisations, universities and other higher education institutions are taking stock of the situation and evaluating their options for the rest of this year and beyond.

They’re starting to experiment with tools that will offer opportunities to continue to provide services to their students. Some have already confirmed they are making plans to start the next academic year online if social distancing continues.

Experts are warning that social distancing measures could stretch into the autumn and beyond, which may prompt students to defer going to university rather than start the year forced to study in their bedrooms at home.

So, there’s an urgent need for universities to re-engage these students and present a compelling offer that can be effectively delivered through social distancing.

What’s the solution?

Technology will play a key part in the future of higher education, in and outside the classrooms and lecture theatres. UK universities have been closing their doors and switching traditional lectures and exams to online processes to adapt to the current climate. But this won’t be enough in the long term.

In the US, Harvard University has put their funding into the popular platform Zoom, with a Zoom educational license — which allows up to 300 people in one video conference room for an unlimited number of minutes.

However, whilst platforms like Zoom have been great for opening up communication in a remote world, for engaging a large group of remote participants they don’t go far enough.

Tools such as Nureva Span Workspace work alongside popular platforms to provide true visual collaboration, opening up projects to co-creation on a larger scale, with a work canvas that can be accessed from any device, at any time and from anywhere. This overcomes some of the challenges for foreign and remote students.

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced organisations to find different ways to serve their customers.  And experts predict that changes in the way people consume services and the way organisations deliver them are set to remain, at least partially, for the long term.

Once we finally get back to normal – business as usual is likely to have changed forever.  In many ways this huge turn of events will lead organisations to think more innovatively and whilst there will be business casualties, there will also be benefits – including opportunities for new and exciting ways of working.

Jon Knight is the Managing Director of Ascentae. 

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