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Why remote learning is here to stay — even after the pandemic

  • 3 Min Read

Modern technology has reshaped the landscape of communication. With the advent of Web 2.0, the way people communicated online shifted, moving in a direction that is more user-driven and interactive. Tools that were once considered cutting edge have now become commonplace and have new competitors hot on their heels.

The rise of these tools has brought about one of the most fundamental changes in the last decade — the rise of remote learning. There are numerous definitions of remote learning, most of which contain technology of some sort. However, the practice is implemented differently depending on the institution or platform you use. Generally, technology is used to facilitate one and two-way interaction over a platform that delivers educational content. While the concept of “distance learning” had existed earlier — and experienced a surge in the 90s, with the advance of online technology — only relatively recently have we reached a place where technology is being implemented with great success. Within the US, over 30% of postsecondary learners — more than 6 million learners — have engaged in at least one distance education course, and this number is growing every year.

Furthermore, as the global climate crisis and health pandemics threaten the continuity of education, remote learning has become even more relevant today. By leveraging technology, schools, universities and corporates can minimise interruptions to education and training in uncertain times — like the current COVID-19 crisis.

The rise of learning management systems

While forms of remote learning have existed since the 19th century, the underlying technology that it relied on in those eras were not adequate for facilitating learning in a seamless manner — they simply weren’t built for educators and learners. Learning management systems offer a holistic educational approach and allow educators to take a more focused approach when delivering content. Overall, there are a few core reasons to opt for a learning management system:

Customising unique learning experiences for every learner

The one-size-fits-all approach has dominated learning, but this needs to change.. People have varied learning styles that vary depending on the nature of the content they are trying to absorb. eLearning allows learners to personalise their education with greater ease, focusing on areas that need greater attention in more detail — simple things like being able to rewind and replay unfamiliar instructions go a long way. Also, rather than being a one-way path where the learner listens and takes in information, online training means that learners can pursue areas that interest them in more detail.

Learning where you need it, when you need it

In Asia alone, more than 2.8 billion people use mobile devices, and this number has been increasing year-on-year since 2011. Worldwide, the desire to be mobile-ready is more significant than ever — and this will change the way we learn, as well. Learning online removes the constraints of a typical education environment. Gone is the need to be on campus at a specific time of day and remain there for the duration of numerous classes. It gives people the flexibility to be able to learn wherever they are — be that at home, on-campus, or wherever they learn best — and at any time they want. With the advancement of mobile technology have resulted in the creation of learning platforms that can fit into the palm of your hand.

More importantly, mobile and online learning solutions have also made learning a viable choice for many rural communities who are unable to travel the vast distances to school every day, and made it feasible to train remote teams working for companies located afar. In addition, face-to-face training can be supplemented with online learning to provide the learner with a more balanced approach that caters to a wider variety of learning styles.

Technology, when used thoughtfully, also has the potential to be an equaliser. For students living in remote locations, teacher shortages are often a serious issue, as highly-qualified educators tend to seek employment in the cities. eLearning seamlessly connects excellent teachers with deserving students.

In the world of corporate training, businesses worldwide — be it startups, SMEs or MNCs — are experiencing a pressing need to upgrade the skills of their staff to stay ahead of the competition and cope with the volatile and complex circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic and its repercussions on the world economy. As the pandemic forces businesses to fast-track their digital transition and pivot to new models, businesses must rapidly expand their training opportunities to keep their employees up to speed. And, with working from home and handling remote teams becoming the new normal, the way companies engage and collectively train their workforce would have to change. We need to move from face-to-face training to online to consistently and effectively train remote workers who are based everywhere, anytime.

Improving engagement through gamification

From the constant deluge of information to the plethora of distractions that surround us every day, paying attention is harder than ever now. Keeping learners engaged throughout the training is one of the key struggles facilitators must face.
Used to technology in their daily lives, modern learners are now used to and expect interactivity — and eLearning allows facilitators to deliver course content in many different ways, to engage each unique learner in a way that works best for them. The Brightspace LMS allows trainers to provide multimedia recordings to make training more engaging. With the game engine, they also have the option to gamify content and include rewards once sections are completed for young employees and fresh graduates who might have just passed out from school and are still transitioning to the corporate world. Quizzes, polls, and discussion boards also mean trainees get to discuss content and interact with one another.

We need to keep exploring remote learning

With the advancement of technology, we are in a better position than ever to provide holistic, high-quality education in manners that exceed the borders of traditional, physical classrooms. To keep up with the demands of a rapidly-changing world, to ensure the continuity of education and to prepare for future disruptions and adversity, it is important to look to remote learning as more than just a stopgap measure for the current times.

This article was first published on Entrepreneur APAC

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