Since the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, higher education institutions are responding by adopting online programs to manage learning.
As institutions go remote, online transition is raising concerns because of instruction challenges for students in a virtual setting.
Access to the internet and connected devices for students are under review as schools roll out digital programs¹.
Schools in Europe have taken educational programs online² and the same is happening in Canada and Australia. The announcement by the government of Ontario, to go online demonstrates the flexibility of digital learning.
The Ontario Department of Education is working with students, teachers, and parents to develop online policies as the COVID-19 situation continues³. The digital program will focus on quality learning based on recommendations from educators and STEM disciplines.
As a teacher and instructor, I have seen how digital learning is changing the classroom experience as students consume vast information online.
And with the COVID-19 crisis, how ready are learning institutions in coping with digital change?
Start-ups enabling Digital Training
Digital learning is becoming popular as learning institutions and corporate organizations respond⁴ to COVID-19 outbreak. From Newsela to Skillshare and Noodle, digital start-ups are shaping the future of education.
Here are start-ups enabling digital learning:
Teaching students remotely is sometimes cumbersome and educators struggle to offer quality programs. Skillshare⁷ bridges this gap by connecting students to their preferred online courses and classes.
Students find Skillshare important because of real-time lessons that enhance collaborative learning. Their quality online programs have seen student numbers grow in millions with their class capacity at 150,000.
Teachable⁸ offers educational instructors a platform to develop their preferred course modules for students. Unlike education systems that focus on a fixed curriculum, Teachable gives instructors the freedom to develop learner-based courses that improve learning experiences. Teachable has 5 million students and above with an estimated 10,000 instructors and 20,000 online courses.
Newsela⁹ enables students to access unlimited educational resources based on their interests. Founded in 2012, Newsela suits students between grades 2 and 12 because of quality programs to prepare them for higher education. Students participate in online learning and can take examinations offered in class.
Coding is an important skill every student needs in the modern world and what better way to start courses online than using Codecademy¹⁰? Yes, Codecademy offers programming languages which are essential in learning how to code. The participation between students and teachers makes Codecademy ideal for students interested in coding.
Online learning is becoming essential with unforeseen circumstances such as the COVID-19 outbreak making it hard for students to attend in-person classes. 2U¹¹ is the answer to this problem because of its educational tools that support learning.
2U offers consultation, training, and resources for edtech companies. The virtual learning system helps edtech companies to collaborate easily.
Schools moving Online and Platforms used
Higher education institutions are going online and with the COVID-19 outbreak, technology will facilitate learning⁵. Students at different course levels are using Zoom and Google Hangouts in meeting their course requirements.
Let us review some learning institutions moving online as the COVID-19 outbreak unfolds:
1. University of Washington
The COVID-19 outbreak started in Washington State and this has seen learning institutions adopt online learning. According to the University of Washington administration, online classes for students will resume in all faculties. Google Classes used at UW assist students to coordinate with their instructors.
2. Northshore School District
Northshore School District in Washington DC switched to online learning after the COVID-19 outbreak. The university administration canceled in-person classes by moving courses online. Their Zoom sessions enable students and teachers to conduct online classes, which encourage collaboration and submitting assignments.
3. MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Digital learning according to MIT is essential in the learning curriculum and the institution is currently developing modules for all courses offered online. Google Classes are helping students to continue with learning despite the COVID-19 outbreak.
4. University of Colorado
Digital learning at the University of Colorado involves students using zoom video to attend classes. The institution convened a meeting on the COVID-19 outbreak last week and offered guidelines for online learning. Students at the university will participate in online classes by following course requirements.
5. Plymouth State University
Based in New Hampshire, Plymouth State University has a digital learning program to facilitate learning amid the COVID-19 outbreak. According to the administration, the new digital learning system will consist of all resources, tools, and collaboration just like normal classes. Students and instructors will share information online and conduct lessons via Google hangouts.
6. Harvard University
Harvard University has switched to virtual learning for undergraduate and graduate courses because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Harvard is working on modalities that will see students and instructors participate in online lessons until the COVID–19 outbreak is contained. Students use Panopto and Google Classes to collaborate with instructors.
Online Learning Software
E-learning is becoming popular and involves instructors and students collaborating online. Schools need online software solutions in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis to enable smooth learning⁶. Learning software programs including Articulate, Panopto and Canvas are changing the classroom experience.
Here are some of them:
The Canvas¹² platform enables students to collaborate with instructors by using tools and resources online. For instance, students can ask questions live and listen to opinions of other students. Teachers can assign projects to students and submit them for marking. Instructors use Canvas for scheduling assignments and making announcements.
Zoom¹³ is becoming a collaborative learning tool used by learning institutions. As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, learning institutions are turning to zoom for convenient online learning. Lecturers and students are using zoom software to schedule classes and plan modules. Students find zoom beneficial because of communicating with their classmates in real-time.
This online learning software enables student-teacher collaborations by offering online lectures and assists students in making presentations. Panopto¹⁴ is simple and flexible for the learning community with tools such as real-time examinations similar to the classroom setting.
Brightspace¹⁵ learning platform offers students an enabling environment for learning because of evaluations for student progress. Their learning modules enhance collaborative discussions that promote knowledge sharing and understanding concepts. Brightspace has a large resource for students to choose their courses and learn based on their needs.
LearnDash¹⁶ has become a trusted e-learning tool by students. Students using LearnDash benefit from its flexible tools such as messaging and feedback options. Their online tools make learning in a virtual environment smooth.
Articulate¹⁷ has a large number of students because of its simple model where students sign up and select their courses.
By using Articulate, students can save assignments, review them and have them marked by tutors. Course materials delivered on the Articulate platform enable students to collaborate with others in real-time.
Online Learning Programs
What better way for students to learn during disruptions than using online learning programs?
These are some of the top-rated online learning programs:
Galvanize²³ is our first learning program that is responding to the COVID-19 crisis by moving their DSI and SEI programs online. Instructors from Galvanize are remotely collaborating with students as the pandemic continues and will allow smooth learning until schedule resumes to normal.
Sessions including coding bootcamps and corporate training from Galvanize are moving online because of the COVID-19 pandemic as well. The learning ecosystem from Galvanize is responding to the current crisis with operations on all campuses shifting online and supporting students.
K12²⁴ is responding to the COVID-19 outbreak by developing flexible online systems for learning. Students using the K12 platform receive instructions from tutors at the comfort of their homes with parent coordination as well. Students find the online learning portal for K12 beneficial to their sustained learning as the outbreak persists.
Personalized online learning solutions from K12 are offering students an ideal environment for collaboration. Learning processes have stalled because of the current pandemic and K12 is bridging this gap by delivering online instructions that suit student needs.
The Coursera¹⁸ online platform offers academic courses to students by collaborating with recognized universities around the world. The diversity of learning at Coursera makes it flexible for international students who gain exposure to global learning curriculum.
The Udemy¹⁹ online learning program consists of tutorials on different disciplines where students sign up and use them for learning. For instance, marketing students find their video marketing classes important in advancing their skills. The same applies to courses such as finance, psychology, and lifestyle.
5. Stanford Online
The courses on Stanford Online²⁰ enable remote students to take courses. For example, engineering students can use learning modules on the Stanford online portal upon payments. Stanford Online is a top-rated learning program because of extensive research and industry reputation.
The HippoCampus²¹ platform consists of video libraries on different subjects and students find this program important for learning. Teachers using HippoCampus have separate accounts and make collaborative learning easy for students.
Students use Skillcrush²² for connecting with their interest subjects and learn based on given modules. The flexible courses offered by Skillcrush help students to transition in their learning processes.
Digital Learning is Here to Stay
No one anticipated the COVID-19 outbreak to persist and with school programs disrupted, online learning is the best option. Students will benefit from digital learning as they focus on completing their courses. Online learning software facilitates interactive learning that students need during the COVID-19 crisis.
Higher learning institutions have had digital programs in the past but with the COVID-19 crisis, it is time to rethink about e-learning policies. There has been a lack online learning measures and this crisis should encourage schools to embrace digital learning.
The COVID-19 outbreak is currently being contained and there is optimism about a solution. Instructors should use this break to review digital learning needs by interacting with students to boost quality standards.
⁷Skillshare, ⁸Teachable, ⁹Newsela, ¹⁰Codecademy, ¹¹2U, ¹²Canvas, ¹³Zoom, ¹⁴Panopto, ¹⁵Brightspace, ¹⁶LearnDash, ¹⁷Articulate, ¹⁸Cousera, ¹⁹Udemy, ²⁰Stanford Online, ²¹HippoCampus, ²²Skillcrush, ²³Galvanize, ²⁴K12