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COVID-19’s Effect On Higher Education

Students in higher education are working daily to improve the outcome of their lives. College degrees make a significant impact on a person’s lifetime earnings. COVID-19 completely altered how students go about learning.

Teachers changed the approach to their courses as remote learning became a requirement for much of 2020. Even if colleges brought students back to campus, some students watched recorded lectures and wrote their papers from home. 

A few politicians and tech moguls believe that online learning is the future and in-person learning will fall by the wayside. Still, some educators believe COVID-19 reaffirmed their confidence in on-campus learning. The pandemic caused teachers and universities to modify courses, requirements, and policies to follow safety guidelines while still promoting learning. 

COVID-19 Improved Online Learning 

Undergrads enroll in on-campus learning because they want to be a part of their learning environment and make connections in person. Online learning was an option that students passed up to take their classes sitting next to peers instead of in their room by themselves. 

Before COVID-19, some online courses were barely distinguishable from watching videos and listening to podcasts with required assignments. Some classes held interactive portions, but the courses lacked significant one-on-one interactions between students and their instructors or peers. 

COVID-19 changed that as classes transitioned from in-person to online. Advanced videoconferencing software allowed the class to transition from the classroom to the Internet while closely mirroring each other. Zoom allows people to see the instructor and all of their peers at the same time. These updates to online learning can improve the effectiveness of online courses. It may soon be rare for students to earn a bachelor’s degree without taking at least one online class. 

Students Ready For Abrupt Changes

Online learning is a great option in case of emergencies. While COVID-19 is still a threat to college campuses, students and staff will be on their toes as schools could suddenly switch to online classes if there are outbreaks of the virus. Both students and teachers will need to be prepared for these sudden switches of learning environments. 

There may be clauses in the syllabus where teachers can reserve the ability to switch a small number of sessions to online sessions. These could be preplanned or emergency requests. During large projects, teachers can still provide lessons while giving students time to work on their assignments. Since colleges will have the tools for online learning, it will be easy for students to access courses online, even if they aren’t online.

Online Learning Reduces Personal Interactions

Communication online is more transactional than in-person learning. Instead of immediate feedback, students have to wait for the teacher to type a response or answer their email. This effect is amplified when correspondence isn’t prompt. A student stuck on a problem who can’t get immediate help from an instructor becomes stuck. Instead of timely feedback from professors, they have to wait until the professor responds to their questions. 

A reduction in in-person interactions isn’t always a bad thing. Resourceful students who want independent work and the ability to work at their own pace will look for universities that offer online degrees. The best online degrees come from well-known universities. 

Students And Teachers Will Value In-person Meetings More

Meeting for classes is something everyone in the education industry took for granted. Before COVID-19, there were very few reasons to doubt the ability to attend class on campus, except maybe a snow day. While online classes are a great resource, they can’t deliver all the same benefits as in-person learning. Discussion models in master’s degree courses aren’t free-flowing since there are body language and other physical cues that webcams can’t quite capture. 

More Courses Will Be Offered Online

Universities will have more online offerings during and after the COVID-19 crisis. Teachers, students, and administrators want to provide an environment where faculty and students will feel safe. There will be traditional online courses as well as online courses with scheduled meeting times and videoconferencing. 

Increasing course offerings will help non-traditional students break into more majors and offer students the ability to sample interesting classes without wasting time commuting if it isn’t a class they love. 

Conclusion

Who will remember COVID-19’s effect on the education industry for years to come. The impact on education is noticeable already, but more consequences will come to light in the future as students can reach the point of graduation. New and faster technologies make online learning a better option for learners with different needs and unique circumstances. The COVID-19 crisis will make education, online or in-person, better.

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