As the global education sector braces itself for the impact of coronavirus, technology and international collaboration shows optimism and resilience.
Governments across the world have extended compulsory closures of schools, colleges and universities, owing to the coronavirus. Consequently, the challenge facing all training providers is bridging the ‘academic gap’ for an unknown period until such time that classroom teaching can resume. It is these short to mid-term challenges that we’ll look at in this and future articles.
Impact so far
For now, when speaking with clients and industry leaders, it’s uncertainty that is weighing most heavily on minds. In particular, on two fundamental questions, how bad will things get and how long will it last? The unknown in these questions makes assessing and implementing an appropriate response all the more challenging.
For many training providers, the solution (and challenge) lies in quickly transitioning from classroom to online learning. Nonetheless doing so in a manner that causes minimal disruption to students. For these training providers, who already deliver blended and online programmes, enforced class closures don’t spell disaster. In reality, the challenges they face might be considered more logistical than survivalist in nature.
But to view online learning as a ‘safety net’ is to overlook the fact that it is not an option for many international training providers. It is also not a preference for many students. Professional education courses have been available online globally for many years. However, up to 50% of students in some markets still choose classroom teaching for the sense of cohesion and support these environments provide. Replicating that sense of community and support, particularly at a time of self and state-imposed isolation represents another challenge. This is one we’ll cover in a future FILS article.
Adapt and respond
So in the short-term, as those providers with a digital alternative scramble to move everything online, we should consider how to support those that don’t have that choice and the resultant student impact. The vulnerability of those without an online ‘back-up’ is being painfully illustrated across the world, as more countries face imposed class closures. This only underlines the role FILS and others can and should play in offering a hand of support.
It is important that online training providers work with professional bodies to identify and reach those most at risk. Those that can have a duty to make their online courses available to all students and training providers impacted by class closures and importantly at a price that reflects the market and student.
At a time of such great uncertainty, ensuring that all students have the option to continue their studies and achieve their educational goals should be our collective principle objective. It is encouraging to see pro-active initiatives being launched and resultant international partnerships arising from these efforts.
A look forward from FI Learning Solutions
For now, it’s unfortunately a recognised fact that for many in the education sector things will get considerably worse before they get better. The impact is expected to be felt well into 2021. Nevertheless, as a sector, we are both resilient and adaptive. We have the tools to improve with technology and the willingness to share and collaborate.
Students’ choice in what, where and how they study, is a right that should be protected. However, that choice is now under threat as smaller classroom training providers face closure in the coming months. It’s imperative therefore that those with digital capability use it to mitigate against closures and make their online resources available to those who need them most.
First Intuition Learning Solutions (FILS)