Going online? What universities should do next

In response to the Novel Corona virus life has taken an unprecedented and unknow turn in almost every aspect of life. Everything suddenly is controlled from distance and remote working and studying has quickly taken up the space. And as we talk about education all the universities, schools and colleges have moved online. But it is not so easy as it sounds. As not every college and university were equipped with the infrastructure and technological support it initially took time for all to pick up the pace in online learning. And now from classes to convocation everything has been held online.

But the question is what next? How are the schools, colleges and universities deal with the shift again when everything is safe to reopen? And more importantly how are they dealing with the intake and admissions for the new sessions, as the year is almost over and reportedly the new sessions might get affected due to the online learning structure. 

Online learning and teaching needs more than just the basic, it is not the replacement of face to face classes but only the need of the hour. Though students under the online learning structure are also provided with the required number of class hours to be completed, submission of assignments and test. The practical approach and the application of the theory involved in many subjects is hard to achieve. The concept that has been propagated lately that it is a simple and more practical approach is capable enough to replace the existing system is strongly misleading. Rather everyone should keep it mind that conventional teaching and learning system includes a lot more than just the formal education and is also attached to socialization, teamwork and overall behavioral aspects of the students. 

But as long as the need for a full-time online learning is required it must have its own efficiency level. Thus, it is important to carefully implement the online learning to make the teaching-learning experience more efficient. The universities and colleges while implementing online learning options for the students should also look at the factors like accessibility, affordability how interactive and student centric are the approach. 

Here are two things which the colleges should keep in mind in order to conduct the online classes tactfully:

Student centric

Imparting education in general should have a student centric approach and when it comes to online learning it becomes even more necessary and complex. It definitely has been deduced by now that progress of a student should be measured on the competency and not on the credits or the class hours. The concept of self-learning and transparent bonding between the instructor and the student should be another point which can be highlighted upon.

The phase is especially critical for the teachers as well as they have to cope up with the sudden change in teaching pattern. While online learning process might be difficult for students on a different level the teachers also have to work hard. Just to remember that not all teachers are tech savvy and have been able to take up the innovation in education so quickly. 

Here are some tips for teachers or the educational institutions as a whole on how they can create a more engaging online learning experience and be a part of this innovative period.

  • Beginning with the basic the students can be given some reading assignment, may be on a particular topic or a particular page form a textbook or study material and then a discussion can be initiated on the same. There is nothing is new and innovative in this concept but this would help them to learn things by themselves and also make sure that the classroom ‘vibes’ are felt.
  • The teachers and colleges can start making YouTube Videos on the topics which are covered already or related topics. Even though almost everything is found online the students will feel that efforts are being made to make their online learning process more interesting. 
  • If it is not possible to create original videos or even if it is the teachers can do some extra work and share some YouTube videos on the topic which they are planning to cover. This would ease up the gaps which occur due to remote teaching and learning.
  • Add some practical approach to the assignment, for example if there is an online class for business management give them a project to enquire about their nearest store and how are they dealing with the current situation. Ask them to assess the problems and what solution scan be provided etc. Giving students a practical task always works as master stroke.

Preparedness

The second point which every college should keep in mind in terms of online learning is preparedness. Both the teachers and students will require considerable amount of time to prepare for both the ends. While many of the teachers are well equipped and have a proper knowledge of the technology and are enthusiastic to accept the changes, some might not be able to pace up immediately.

Same is true in terms of the students as well. Not every student will have the high-end devices and technological support hence it is important to keep a time allotted for preparing before actually getting into it. And this is exactly why online learning is a complex process than it is perceived as. 

In countries like Zambia where education sector is yet to evolve a lot the sudden challenge of online learning and conducting the classes remotely has not been swift. The colleges have put their best foot forward to create deliver the best for the students and continue as long as the situation doesn’t get better. In fact, to make sure that the students don’t have to compromise with their academic years and future endeavors there are end number of online courses in Zambia made designed for the students. Cavendish University Zambia has stood as one of the best supporting universities for the students from shifting their classes swiftly online when the situation demanded to providing almost all the degree courses online. Cavendish University is currently offering some of the best online courses in Zambia which includes subjects like Business and Information Technology, Law and many more. It would be apt to say the college is one of the ideal places to get enrolled into if students are thinking to do so. 

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