Due to COVID-19 regulations, colleges were forced to transfer their classes online. It was a remarkable, albeit difficult, learning experience for everyone involved in this transition.
Universities are returning to in-person instruction once limitations are relaxed. Despite campuses returning to normalcy, it may appear that nothing has altered. Universities, on the other hand, would be wise to reflect on the lessons learned during the pandemic. They should use the knowledge they learned from their online learning experience to their advantage.
The learning curve for modifying instruction was particularly steep at the start of the pandemic. Lecturers learned how to design learning resources, record lecture videos, organize online classrooms, and host live sessions. Many of their classes were relocated online within a week or two. Teachers learned how to educate online by doing so.
Following the pandemic, colleges began to provide more structured assistance. Digital learning support teams were established, online learning training programs were offered, and online learning tools and resources were made available. The expertise of lecturers in teaching online developed immediately, and their impression of online learning improved significantly. The change-supporting culture should be maintained in higher education.
Universities should continue to promote and support instructors in their efforts to be innovative and adaptable in the way they create their courses and engage with their students. When campuses were shuttered due to lockdowns, teaching and learning may have continued online, but both lecturers and students felt isolated and disconnected.
The lack of classroom interactions and immediate feedback highlighted the importance of the social aspects of university instruction. Lecturers devote more time and energy to interacting with and talking with their students, forming more personal and caring relationships with them than ever before. They may have held informal Zoom meetings to check in on students and kept communication channels accessible for questions, such as Chat on Teams. As they shared the global crises, professors and students developed a sense of solidarity and sympathy.
Simultaneously, instructors reported increasing teaching hours and stress. As classroom contacts resume, lecturers will no longer be required to make the same degree of commitment to online participation.
Nonetheless, this caring approach to teaching, as well as solidarity between lecturers and students, should be respected and fostered in university teaching, whether online or offline. Even during the pandemic, lecturers rapidly saw how difficult it is to keep students focused online. They experimented with several techniques to increase student involvement and motivation.
One method they used was to break up instruction into little learning activities such as mini-lectures, group discussions, class polls, and pop-up quizzes. This is also applicable to in-person instruction. Students continue to struggle to stay attention during two-hour-long lectures when presenters fail to engage them throughout.
Prior to the pandemic, it was unusual to find lecturers teaching without the use of technology – most lectures contained at least PowerPoint slides. Moreover, because of the new abilities gained during the pandemic, lecturers are now much more suited to provide learning that is improved by the use of technology.
Lecture theatres can be viewed as “hybrid” learning settings in which offline and online activities can coexist. Students can travel between analogue and online places while remaining focused on the lesson.
Many components that functioned well in earlier teaching practice can also be preserved by lecturers. Lectures can be structured in a collaborative learning manner, which includes online learning activities for students to complete before and after lectures.
Specific program parts, such as tutorials, could be relocated online to maximize student learning flexibility. Therefore, it is important to recognize that blended-learning designs can raise the workloads of lecturers. As a result, lecturers should have some latitude in changing the design of their modules.
The worst-case scenario would be for colleges to implement a blended learning format or template that increased burden but not quality. The pandemic has made plainly evident that students, as well as their learning and living environments outside of lecture halls, are diverse and uneven, sparking several discussions concerning educational and digital inequality. This greater awareness of the many needs of students should be maintained after the pandemic.
Trying to make learning accessible to all students should be a guiding idea in university education. Digital education can help with this by removing a variety of physical barriers that prevent students from participating in face-to-face instruction.
Even though the pandemic was horrific, and some may argue that online learning during COVID-19 was inadequate, colleges surely learned significant lessons. It would be a shame to lose them and simply revert to pre-pandemic practice.
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