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When online learning was in its infancy, employers were usually sceptical of hiring resources with online credentials. But today, online learning programs are recognized and are at par with their on-campus counterparts. However, there are three factors that employers look for while evaluating online degrees:
1. Accreditation that ensures that the institution meets certain standards and its graduates have the requisite professional skills2. Reputation of both the institution as well as programs.3. Existence of a traditional campus that reassures them that the institution is reputable and established.
Online learning represents a different experience than traditional on-campus learning. It is an option that empowers flexible learning, especially among non-traditional learners and busy working individuals. However, with its increased adoption, the question has arisen on whether online education is effective in getting students the knowledge they need to earn their degrees, enhance their careers, and even move on to the next phase of their academic quest.
Due to these unprecedented times, campus shutdowns led to a quick rush to “remote learning,” exposing the fragmented adoption of high-quality education technology and digital capabilities across thousands of colleges and universities. On-campus classes ceased overnight and were replaced by online and blended options. But the bigger question is, can online classes recompense for the campus experience?
As we already know, the pandemic has affected all areas of life and the higher education sector was not spared. But we worked around it and various universities have developed their own online courses and adopted new methods to adjust to new realities. The improvisation of already existing techniques and technology has ensured an uninterrupted academic experience for students. We delve a little deeper into what the model entails and how it may impact your study plans.
Online programs: Once a niche form of education, online education is now the norm. Earlier, it was mainly working professionals & distance learning students who used it as a learning tool for the convenience, flexibility, and affordability it offers. Today, this situation has totally changed. Technology has ensured that online programs emerge as a great asset to education at large. It has also created some interesting and realistic questions which will need addressing once the world reopens fully.
There are a few things we need to keep in mind to deliver a program online. For starters, use a technology platform that creates a rich-content and immersive learning experience. Immersive technology pushes students into a virtual environment, where they not only gain academic knowledge but also practice problem-solving, critical thinking, and technical and creative skills, both individually and in collaboration with other students. With the use of appropriate technology, educators can create different scenarios so learners can see and understand the material in a more interactive way.
Secondly, we need a robust student lifecycle management (SLcM) for better student-teacher engagement. With increased competition due to alternative learning models, universities need to look at new ways of increasing student engagement and improving student retention. SLcM is a holistic and data-informed approach that focuses on the entire student journey from admissions through to graduation to ensure student success.
Lastly, institutions need to invest in a reliable examination platform with a proctoring system which will effectively improve the credibility of evaluation. Today, online examinations and online talent assessments have become quite the norm. Most universities, educational institutes, and schools are conducting their exams online to overcome disruptions and ensure learning and education continuity.
Hybrid or a mixed approach: Online programs may not offer the edge that some learning elements provide. Hybrid learning is nothing but a way of combining traditional and digital delivery methods, using the best option for each learning objective. That means unlike blended learning models, the hybrid approach varies widely according to the subject matter and the needs of specific groups of learners. A hybrid or mixed approach is a better option for programs having both knowledge and skills elements. The flexibility and multiple episodes of online and offline delivery can bring better learning or experiential learning for students.
Campus and contact programs: Campus programs are going to be an option for students who can afford it. However, the pandemic proved that campus programs need to be adaptable. As NEP 2020 intended to bring flexibility in terms of time, modules, and courses, many campus courses can be transformed into mixed segments. This allows the faculty to reach more students and save their time spent on managing the on-campus programs. This way, an institute can earn more geographical coverage, status, and better ranking.
Online learning has already made quite an impact. A plethora of recognised institutions – in India and across the globe – have shown the model is successful and, more importantly, growing rapidly in popularity. So, while the traditional classrooms may not go away completely anytime soon, online and hybrid learning is the need of the hour in these dynamic times.