It goes without saying that the global COVID-19 pandemic is changing the world as we know it. Whether life will ever return to ‘normal’ remains uncertain. What we do know is that the institution of education in South Africa and around the world is set to evolve and shift – probably for a very long time. Below, we highlight what the future of varsity learning is predicted to look like, and the challenges with which we are currently faced.
Online learning to dominate
The realm of online learning has been growing for over 20 years. It is only now, during lockdown when we are forced to embrace it with open arms, that it becomes evident just how advanced this aspect of learning has become. Leading up to this time, various colleges, universities, companies, and corporate learning centres have been experimenting with software, streaming, and creating helpful e-learning tools.
However, while online learning has proved indispensable throughout the pandemic, various challenges and problems have been brought to light along the way. It is these challenges that universities around the globe need to work on solving in the near future.
For example, lecturers, teachers, and tutors need to work extremely hard to keep students engaged and interested when teaching via the internet. The content needs to be properly contextualised and ‘byte-sized’, and we need to ensure that we veer away from the temptation of creating pre-recorded lectures or simply distributing notes in PDF format. In order for e-learning to grab the learner, it must be live, personalised, and passionate – just as it would be in a classroom or lecture hall.
Another pitfall is providing learners with adequate support as they move through their student journey. It is essential that universities open up a variety of easily accessible resources to help answer frequently asked questions and to ensure that lecturers are available in some capacity to provide feedback when required.
Ultimately, the learning landscape is changing whether we like it or not. There are a number of problems to address and questions to answer. Time will tell if South Africa can rise to the occasion!
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