Is online learning the future of education? And, if so, can it get better?
Could the virtual classroom be the future of education by 2030? If so, will it ever get easier and more effective?
Education Initially Falls Behind with Digital Experiences
The global shift to remote learning abruptly moved students to a digital campus. Educators across the world scrambled to teach students in their homes. Students and teachers accessed video conferencing, online learning platforms and other online tools and content. That was step one, though. Next, educators need to make these digital experiences:
- Simpler to access.
- Faster to connect.
- More reliable and consistent.
- Less confusing and complicated to troubleshoot.
It starts with the institution’s digital infrastructure. Virtual data centers that run on software are less rigid (and less expensive) than hardware. IT organizations with these modern data centers have much more flexibility and agility to accommodate online learning.
IT can quickly gain computing capacity in the cloud, so they can distribute and manage new devices, apps, and virtual desktops from anywhere. IT teams also have more constant visibility into a software-based infrastructure. They can use software automation to fix problems and adjust as needed. This way, digital infrastructure is always available and running at peak performance. And this is especially important for running more advanced applications and interactive, virtual lab environments.
Keeping Students Safe in a Digital Learning Environment
Educators are also responsible not only for students’ safety. In hybrid learning environments, these responsibilities expand:
- Protecting students’ data privacy.
- Safeguarding them from online threats and harmful content.
- Complying with digital guidelines and regulations.
Outdated security models and ineffective tools impede the progress of digital-first learning. It also puts students and institutions at risk. So, education IT leaders are implementing more modern technologies with built-in security and modern security frameworks, like unified endpoint management and zero-trust security.
Closing the Digital Learning Gap
Another enduring challenge to online learning is equity. As education digitized over the years, students don’t have equal access to devices, apps, and internet connectivity. Widespread remote learning revealed even greater disparities in the online learning gap.
To achieve the benefits of remote learning, schools and colleges must ensure equitable access to devices, applications, and internet connectivity. Many students need devices, headsets, and access to low-cost or free broadband support, LTE hotspots, or devices with integrated LTE connectivity. To support these deployments, in addition to UEM and access management platforms, institutional IT departments might consider tools like SD-WAN and telecom expense management.
Other components of a digital learning environment strategy can include providing access to high-powered applications and workstations via VDI and remote support.
Even in a hybrid learning model, every student deserves a high-quality digital education. It’s not just about convenience or access. It’s also critical to developing in-demand digital skills among students for the future of work and leadership. This extends to non-traditional students and the general public, as well. In fact, almost one-third of adults believe educational institutions are responsible for developing digital literacy, which is the ability to access and consume a variety of online services.
Empowering Teachers & Staff
During social distancing and shelter-in-place mandates, many teachers and staff members struggle to keep up with the change of format and pace.
Teachers had to:
- Rebuild content for digital formats.
- Engage students in new ways.
- Offer technical troubleshooting support.
Many teachers weren’t trained and felt uncomfortable with the new tools and processes. And this uncertainty caused significant emotional strain.
Technology isn’t a challenge for only K-12 teachers. Right after accessibility, “faculty readiness for online learning” is the top technology concern for colleges and universities, too.
Education IT organizations can tremendously lower the technology burden on teachers and staff. To support ‘uninterrupted learning, schools can build an online learning platform and successfully deploy new virtual desktops. Now, the educator can teach as they did in physical classrooms, including roll call, group discussions, and more.
Virtual desktops also enable teachers to manage course progress and students’ learning status. With the help of software tools, teaching is now enriched and efficient, helping maintain consistent quality and positive experiences.
Innovating Faster to the Future of Education
t is an exciting time to be in the education IT industry—or to be a student, teacher, faculty member or parent. Education has never been closer to truly personalizing learning, breaking ground on entirely new learning models. Ultimate, digital experiences help prepare students for the careers of the future.
The modern technologies mentioned above provide the digital foundation for education IT leaders to:
- Continuously innovate and break down barriers.
- Freely incorporate emerging technologies into the digital infrastructure, like artificial intelligence. These innovations accelerate the path to more individualized, student-centered learning and assessments.
- Redirect resources and technologies to support teachers and faculty.
- Differentiate with groundbreaking learning and business models, such as more collaborative learning ecosystems.
“There is little doubt that the traditional, in-person-only educational model worldwide is changing,” said Herb Thompson, a VMware expert on the digital education industry. “And institutions must become future-ready to accommodate change today and what’s coming tomorrow.”
Contact ScholarBuys to learn how we can help you tackle the challenges associated with the shift towards digital learning.