How the Covid-19 Pandemic Has Changed Education Forever

There is no doubt that the world has changed quite a lot since the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2020. The business has changed, everyday life is different, and most certainly we’ve seen a shift in the world of education and training. Ultimately, we’ve all need to adapt to a new way of life, whether it be wearing masks in public or re-thinking the way training is delivered to staff.

For many people, online learning isn’t a new concept. People have studied degrees by correspondence, attended online classes and participated in e-learning courses for a number of years. However, in the past, this has been more of a choice or a simple convenience for those who can’t attend physical classrooms. In today’s world, digital learning courses have become a necessity.

Change comes from necessity

We’ve all heard the well-known saying, ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’. When it comes to education, training and development through the Covid-19 pandemic, that saying is at least partly true. While the technology to undertake eLearning courses online certainly existed before the pandemic, it took on a whole new level of importance. So, while necessity didn’t necessarily lead to any ground-breaking new inventions in the education space, it definitely led to a huge uptake of eLearning courses and virtual study. Covid 19 has accelerated the pre-existing trend of teaching English online and there is a huge demand for teachers globally as a result. Taking a recognised online TEFL course is the best way to get qualified to take up some of these opportunities.

 Once the pandemic hit, workplaces all over the world were thrust into chaos. Employees began working from home where possible, and some businesses moved to a completely remote working model. In the scramble to find and adopt the technology required for remote work, there also arose a need for remote education, training and development. This is where we saw a big increase in the need for virtual classrooms, eLearning packages and other forms of online study.

From the classroom to the workplace

Before Covid-19, many businesses were already adopting eLearning as a way to manage the training and development needs of staff. But this practice originated in educational institutions long before it became commonplace in the office. Universities have offered distance education for a long time, allowing people to study degrees without attending physical lectures and classes. The concept behind digital learning made its way from the classroom to the workplace, as businesses began choosing eLearning as an alternative to face-to-face training.

So, from the early days of distance education to today, we have seen massive advancements in the technology used to deliver online training courses. This has also led to better content, more skilled facilitators, and an emphasis on delivering more value from eLearning and other online sources of education. Let’s look at some of the most common forms of an online study that are being used by businesses today. 

E-Learning programs

Early forms of eLearning were often criticised for not being interactive enough. People likened it to simply reading information from a textbook, but on a computer screen. We’ve come a long way since those early days, to the point where eLearning has become a crucial part of the business. Companies all over the world use eLearning as a convenient, cost-effective way to train and develop their staff.

Now, the packages are a lot more interactive and can include all sorts of features like quizzes, video, and other elements to keep the participant engaged. E-Learning is now used for everything from personal development courses to even dentistry courses. In fact, many companies develop their own in-house eLearning, finding it to be a valuable alternative to traditional training methods.

Virtual classrooms

E-Learning is great in so many ways, however, most training providers realised that everybody learns differently. Many people simply don’t enjoy training when there’s no face-to-face contact with a facilitator, or interaction with other team members. So, the challenge was set to provide something with the convenience of eLearning and the human connection of facilitator-led classroom training. As a result, virtual classrooms were born.

A virtual classroom takes places online, meaning participants still have the convenience of logging on from wherever they are. However, a facilitator still runs the training course. All participants log in, and the platform allows for things like chat, using buttons to signal that you want to ask a question and other interactive features that make it more engaging. 

It’s up to the facilitator how interactive the session is, but to avoid confusion all participants can be placed on ‘mute’ until they need to contribute. The other value of virtual classrooms is all the course content is delivered electronically before the session, cutting down on the huge amount of paper that gets wasted in-classroom training on a daily basis. So, for the environmentally conscious, virtual classrooms are a great way to go.

Hybrid workplaces and learning

The Covid-19 pandemic also saw a big rise in hybrid workplaces. Some businesses already operated this way, but during the pandemic, it has become almost a necessity. A hybrid workplace is one where staff aren’t necessarily all in the same office every day. For example, you might have half the workforce in the office while the other half work from home. Or, staff may work from home 3 days a week and in the office for the other two. Not only does it cut down on overheads, because you need less office space and hardware, but it also provides employees with more flexibility and a better work-life balance.

Many businesses moved to this model during Covid-19, and have decided to stick with the hybrid workplace even as restrictions eased. But the challenge then was ensuring remote workers still have access to the same learning and development opportunities as their office-bound colleagues. This is another reason online learning has become so important. Even when co-workers are physically apart, they can still attend the same virtual classrooms and complete the same eLearning programs as their peers.

Planning is more important than ever

We’ve talked a lot about how the world of education and training has changed due to the pandemic. Mostly, it’s changed for the better, because people have openly embraced virtual learning as a better way of doing things. However, there is one aspect of online learning that needs to be considered. That is the need for comprehensive planning.

Firstly, businesses need to identify the types of training they want to offer staff and find a training provider who delivers those courses online. They also need to work out how they can produce their own in-house training for a virtual environment, so there’s a lot of planning that needs to go into it.

In addition, businesses also need to manage the individual training needs and schedules of their teams. No longer do you just set aside a whole day for staff to attend training. Now, you can stagger that attendance accordingly but you need to provide employees with the time they need. eLearning is a bit easier to manage because attendance is flexible. But when it comes to virtual classrooms, you need to make sure all staff are booked in accordingly.

Convenience for remote workers

With that slight inconvenience (which is actually a positive when it comes to delivering a quality learning and development schedule), there are also plenty of great things about online learning. Some people may feel they’ve been pushed by the necessity to adopt this new way of training, but most would agree there are significant benefits.

Firstly, the convenience factor. When it comes to remote workers, offering a simple way to log in and complete training is a huge plus. If they had to attend face-to-face training, it just gets complicated in terms of managing their own work-life schedule. This way, they’ve got the freedom to maintain their remote working arrangements and still get the training they need.

Also, the push towards online study, training and development has meant a big improvement in the quality of content. Businesses and training providers alike are now focused on making online learning courses informative, engaging and beneficial for all participants, and that can only be a good thing!

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