E-learning in Era of Social Distancing

As we look into the future, much beyond the social distancing, I see a very large scope and impact of E-learning especially in the times of stiff competition and availability of time with the students and also with the rapidly springing up online education integrators

As I recall, about 20 years back GE Capital started the concept of Work From Home which created ripples around the factors like technology, controls, and ease of management and lesser that anyone derived the cultural barriers which made people think against some of the forward-looking work practices. I clearly relate this to the concept of E-learning which congregates efforts of individuals to widen the scope of learning at one’s own will, from anywhere and with the customised approach towards the content distribution.

“When I look at social distancing, it’s just one aggregator towards making this a reality. But as the situation has been unfolded, I would disagree that had we not got technically and mentally ready to work from home, we would not have been able to successfully launch the platforms that get executed in today’s time.”

As I look at the E-learning concept with a wider lens, I could snuggle some of the factors which have contributed towards the development of wider Key Learning Platforms. I consider these factors as core elements which have triggered the change and not necessarily social distancing which is definitely short spanned and would meet a short deadline.

I purely relate and look at this topic from 4 different aspects:

  • Learning Content and Need
  • Learning Mode
  • Learning Channels
  • Learning Diversity 

Learning Content: The Learning Content has actually advanced beyond the regular course curriculum to Smart Capsule Learning which is a required basis the business need. I clearly relate to the requirement of organisations which is helping this being catered through e-learning especially giving the examples of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning & Robotics where there is a dearth of capability and students need to be up to speed with some of these new concepts. The predominant behaviour of organisations to helping employees build their capability helps in getting the customised view in a shorter time span.

Learning Mode: Learning from anywhere is helped by technology build-up in many ways. I am not only limiting my thought to the technology to reach the last mile connectivity. This, of course, is the ready infrastructure which is supporting the channel. I am looking at other modes of technological development that have led to platform s like e-cafes, Hangout zones, e-discussion boards, e-collaborate spaces which have led to the development of cross channels of communication amongst the learners and the faculty. E-group assignments and e-discussion panels have been wider platforms for creating a real-time virtual classroom environment.

Learning Channels: This is one of the areas where we have really moved ahead in making the commercial sense for organisations to get closer to education institutions. The brand name of top universities have spread out through the channels of distance learning and satellite programs which have helped inn creating logistically simple access along with customised curriculum that the courses offer basis the need of the organisation and upcoming technology trends.

Learning Diversity: The diversity of students is really making a difference in the meaning of e-education and diversity in terms of Age, Location, Industry, Professional Status, Organisation Need. The trend of professionally upgrading oneself is growing heavily which is leading to a sudden spurt in demand for education. Moreover, as organisations are devising the needs for employee development it’s getting common for them to sponsor the identified employees for the respective programs which are leading to diverse student groups being able to approach the centres for these accredited courses. 

Despite this as I spoke to some of the organisations who are access to these accredited e-learning programs, are definitely showing some further opportunities to be fulfilled in order to get the true potential of e-learning programs. I am able to list down some of those as below:

  • Most of the e-learning course modules have yet to get recognized by the organisations. The organisations who peg full-time credits fail to recognize the e-learning courses. The learning organisations are making the courses customized to organisation needs and tailor the expectations to student capability in order to bridge this gap.
  • The brand name of so-called Distance Learning Programs is hitting e learning platforms a lot. In fact, all the latest courses are doing away with this brand name in order to position their programs differently.
  • The Quality of output is also very important which largely depends on two factors i.e. The Quality of intake and The Quality of Skills the program imparts. Both these factors need to be looked into by the universities to set the utilization of these programs and create a niche for them in the corporate world. There is a clear need for demarcating success factors when the education is completed versus the criteria defined against the admissions. Post this, the programs could easily be compared to the respective full-time programs in the real sense
  • A belief is a setting for these programs to be commercially run for the revenue maximization which is leading to the wrath of the acclaimed output for the deserving candidates. There has to be a check on the numbers as well as the determination of the content and course curriculum in conjunction with the applied course fee.
  • Advertising at the cost of events like Social Distancing due to pandemic again raises the concern against the organization’s intent which it’s going to derive from the program and this is also causing a sense of worry in creating a derivative of short-term vision rather than a longer-term career view. 
  • There is certainly, a need for a central body to govern and manage the quality check on the curriculum along with delivery mechanism which is a greater need of the hour in this time.
  • The classification of short- and long-term programs also would provide better clarity for students to aim for the correct intent and accordingly scope into their career. I receive a lot of queries from multiple levels experienced students where they need counselling for the right selection of the course makes me think of the confused positioning that the marketing teams of these organizations are conducting. 

As we look into the future, much beyond the social distancing, I see a very large scope and impact of E-learning especially in the times of stiff competition and availability of time with the students and also with the rapidly springing up online education integrators, there is a clear need to re-looking at the content, the quality of delivery mode and the criteria for the intake of students which would certainly peg this towards the right skill-building platform in accordance to the needs set by the corporate world especially at the uncertain times ahead and need for a skilled workforce to handle.

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