Paul Springer: Restructuring remote learning for the post-pandemic future

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The field of remote learning has experienced major changes since its wake. What once was used by the organizations as a means of employee training and empowerment soon became the household reality.

However, in the year 2020, soon after the pandemic was announced and lockdowns were imposed, the whole world was introduced with a new era of education – remote learning.

The technology evolution and its adaptation in the education field allowed teachers and students to resume their academic functions during the pandemic. However, there is still the need to rectify the loopholes, according to Paul Springer, Director, Falmouth University, and restructure the remote learning platform to fully benefit students for a better learning experience.

Here are some key takeaways from the observations made by Paul of the remote learning space during the COVID-19 pandemic and his experience on how the education technology field can work to resolve the loopholes to make distance learning accessible and convenient for staff and students.

How in your opinion the distance learning space has evolved over the years?

I could see a clear difference between the courses or programs that were designed for distance learning and on-campus sessions that had to be moved online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the case of the latter, I found online sessions and tutorials were reshaped into better form than their subsequent on-campus lectures. Online lectures were designed for a short time with more key takeaways while teachers or tutors interacted with short groups which students preferred more. 

How do you think the challenges students and faculty had to face to migrate from on-campus lectures to remote learning?

While it was difficult for both students and the faculty at the start, technology made this migration easier for everyone. Teachers had the help of live interactive tech and content creation platforms to create brief sessions students have come to love.

However, keeping students glued to the academics at the start was difficult. I found frequently keeping in touch through live meetings and community building helped students keep up the pace together.

During this time. I also noticed that students preferred one-to-one sessions and brief online lectures. Seminars and workshops, however, still work better in on-campus settings.

What remote learning trends do you think are driving the education field?

One of the remote learning trends, although not driving the education field, has still become a significant part of it, which is as we call it the “lurkers”. These are the students who like to keep their cameras and mics off during the sessions. However, just because they are not speaking, they are still passively involved.

As for talking about the trends in the distance learning space, one of the prominently evolving trends is different types of learning and discipline styles supported by the social student-led platforms.

Distance learning surely has led to strengthening student groups and communities to supplement the technology-led teaching channels, some of which like Notes, slack, and padlet we have subscribed to.

What practices do you think businesses and educational personnel should adopt to stay ahead of the competition?

Contrary to the norm which was formed during the pandemic distance learners don’t expect any fancy thing to happen from online learning platforms. They only wish to consume things they can achieve and want to steer clear of overproduction as well as overconsumption.

Thus, the job of businesses and people closely involved in this field is to keep the format simpler and more accessible for the students. We have experienced Keynote sessions and live question and answer sessions that bring life to otherwise one-sided teaching sessions. Incorporating such elements will help attract and retain more distance learners.

What advice would you give to the budding entrepreneurs in the remote learning space?

Two things I would want to point out that most entrepreneurs in the industry misunderstand.

First is presuming that distance learners have the same expectations or want the same learning experience as on-campus students.

The second thing I would like to point out is the importance of human interaction in distance learning. Make sure you supplement one-on-one sessions to increase the interaction rate from the students’ side.

Also, start focusing on building a community of distance learners around your distance learning platform right from the start. This will help you rectify the challenges faced by students as well as faculty and resolve any potential issues within the first run of the program.

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