By: Luke Goodlet, Executive Director of Operations at The Skills Network
Over the last 18 months, many lives have been changed dramatically. The impact of the pandemic has been particularly felt by those within the education sector, with both educators and learners alike having to quickly adopt new ways of teaching remotely and training online.
Despite the easing of social distancing and life slowly returning to some form of normality, the adoption of online learning is showing no signs of slowing, and with increased access to sophisticated technology, data and artificial intelligence, online learning providers are in the position to truly provide learners and educators with the best digital learning and teaching experiences.
The role of technology
Whilst online learning has been accelerated in the last year, interest in technology-based learning was growing exponentially before the pandemic. Learning can now happen anytime, anywhere – removing barriers such as location, time of learning, and even speed of training. Schools, colleges and universities can now take advantage of digital resources which have taken years to develop, and support learning as they wish.
However, many still say that that there is little to no interaction with online learning – this couldn’t be further away from the truth. Teaching is so much more than a Zoom call, or uploading countless documents to a platform. Teachers still need to respond to questions, give feedback and support students – this is where the blended approaches come in. It’s important to consider that the new generation also expects online learning in some form – for many individuals, the world has been digital since they were born.
Adopting to a growing online learning culture
In a new online teaching world, the prospect of professional development remains as prevalent as it would do for those teaching in the traditional classroom. The path towards this is dependent on both teachers and the cultures of the organisations they work for. If the culture of the school is fully supportive of online teaching and provides staff with the relevant training, teachers should have the ability and opportunity to continue to develop.
Chris Jones, Quality Specialist and former HMI Specialist Advisor for Apprenticeships at Ofsted, suggests that the biggest challenge for teachers is poor training in the design, development and delivery of online and digital learning; a lack of bandwidth and storage capacity and too little time and resource allocated to prepare course materials for new forms of delivery.
However, if schools invested in external high-quality systems and online content, teachers would be in a better position to develop and use their time more efficiently due to not having to develop online materials themselves.
The movement towards learning online will allow teachers to become much more innovative and think more deeply about how they will test whether their teaching has had the impact they expected and whether their students have made the most out of the virtual learning sphere. The ability to assess whether their teaching is having an impact on students is fundamentally one of the most important attributes for teachers to master as a skill.