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Online Learning Is Dead, Long Live Online Learning

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Opinion Edition by Jean Nagiah

Growing up in South Africa in the 90s, technology and the possibilities of the internet were just a murmur, a gentle whisper of a possible powerful future. Those of us who can remember a pre-internet era can recall the resistant outcries of those clinging to hardbound encyclopedias, to physically marking off and highlighting important information in heavy textbooks, and to the smell of public libraries. In 2021, with the COVID-19 pandemic firmly settled in, I had to put those fears aside when I decided to pursue my MBA online. How would I, as a sociable person, cope with not being able to see fellow classmates in person? What would my learning experience look like with lectures being delivered via Microsoft Teams, and with little to no face-to-face interaction? I was dreading this experience, as I worried about what I would lose out on completing an online degree. 

Is online learning dead? 

After registering to complete my MBA online, I came across an article on LinkedIn: R.I.P Online Learning. Its various contributors argued that “online learning had fallen foul of a serious affliction common to other teaching methods by overloading learners with ‘too much content dump’”. Another viewpoint was that by going ahead with online learning we may be shackling learners to their computers. Already uncertain about the journey I was embarking on, this article served to further fuel my reservations about online study.

Once the coronavirus pandemic hit, all educational institutions, both public and private, had to quickly rethink, redesign, and drive online learning, so that content could be accessed with little to no disruption of learning time. Online learning environments had to become fit-for-purpose, meaning that the chosen tools and technologies had to aid effective learning delivery that fostered meaningful interaction, and delivered quality content to all learners. 

Why do we need to rethink our approach to online learning? 

This sudden need for online learning has re-awakened conversations around its delivery, and we need it now more than ever. If organisations and individual employers want to compete, succeed, and thrive, then the ability to continually upskill can’t be an optional extra. It is a competitive must. But as we ease into a new era of learning delivery, universities are beginning to explore a more hybrid approach to content delivery compared to pre-pandemic conditions.  

As companies and academic institutions embrace online learning, many will partner eLearning agencies to help them create more engaging and accessible online learning experiences for their learners. Many Top Tier universities, as mentioned in The Rise Of Online Learning, are on the path of becoming catalysts in the adoption of this rapid change, by making courses accessible online as well as offline.  

An online learning approach offers benefits and incentives for both the institution and the learners. Institutions can more easily scale their learning offerings, and learners, in turn, have greater access to learning, and more choice in how their education fits within their lives. Learners are also afforded a greater opportunity to connect with others from around the globe. Furthermore, universities can choose to offer free curriculums, such as personal development programs, which give learners a taste of the online journey before signing up.

Long live online learning  

It is important for all institutions to explore their full potential when it comes to online learning. If your current learning strategy is aimed towards the move to online learning, this could be a motivation to explore different methods of educating students. Online and blended learning is now a necessity, and by working together, we can leverage all the opportunities that technology gifts us to enable and enhance education through online delivery, e.g., increased global reach, student diversity, and accessibility. 

Change your education imperative by no longer worrying about the hasty nature of the transition and how this may have hindered your goal. Your plan should encourage online learning as part of your institution’s or organisation’s new ‘normal’ to experience the benefits first-hand. For starters, one of the key factors to creating a successful online learning experience is being able to create learning experiences that are fun, engaging, and active, on a platform that is an enabler across your organisation as well as outside its borders. The time is now. 

How Hubble Studios can help

When done correctly, a transition to online learning is not just an alternative to “traditional face-to-face”, but rather a strong enabler for meaningful and scalable learning experiences that engage learners from start to finish. If this is what you are looking for in your transition into an online learning journey, Hubble Studios would be happy to help. Visit www.hubblestudios.com.

About Jean Nagiah 

Jean Nagiah is the Marketing Manager at Hubble Studios. She is currently completing her MBA (Masters in Business Administration) online at Regenesys Business School. 

You can find her on LinkedIn here.

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