The power of remote learning
One of the major trends brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic was the work from home movement. Employers realised that work productivity increased due to fewer distractions as well as commute time needed. Businesses in turn were able to save on fixed costs such as office rental and resources. The work from home trend is now set to stay, with many companies moving away permanently from the fixed office.
A similar trend is emerging in the education sector. Universities were forced to move online in March 2020, with some more prepared than others. 18 months into COVID-19 and most South African universities are remaining online, with all teaching, learning, and assessments taking place remotely. What has made this possible? The answer is technology.
Technology has allowed students to continue studying throughout the global pandemic, with South African entrepreneurs stepping up to the plate by creating solutions that work within the African context. Like the work from home movement, I believe the study from home trend is here to stay as the introduction of educational technology in South Africa makes education more accessible and affordable. Here are the reasons why:
- Reduction of fixed costs Universities and schools can do away with the rental of large teaching and examining facilities, the printing of papers, physical invigilators, as well as logistic costs. These savings all translate into a possible reduction in tuition fees.
- No space limitation Universities can now increase the number of admissions into the university due to no physical space limitation, meaning more revenue for the universities.
- Flexibility Students can now study what they want, when they want and at a time that is suitable to their needs. Students can still have their day job yet study towards, for example, their CA(SA) qualification in the evenings. The idea of physically having to be on campus from 8 am to 4 pm is an outdated concept.
- International qualifications Students can study towards international qualifications from the comfort of their home in South Africa. Studying at an Australian institution no longer means moving to Australia to do so. Students can achieve the international qualifications of their choice using educational technology.
Online teaching and learning is an extremely effective method of studying due to continuous assessment being made possible. Continuous assessment means the constant interaction with learning material through short formative tests and assignments, as well as summative assessments and exams. Testing or assessing student’s weekly is not possible when venues, as well as physical invigilators, are needed. However, when technology is used, students can be tested more frequently, meaning students are far more educated on the topics at hand, as opposed to your traditional mid- and final-year exams.
COVID-19 has taken away so much from us, but out of the darkness there is always a silver lining and an opportunity for those who look hard enough. COVID-19 has opened our eyes to working and now studying remotely, and the use of technology has paved the way for far more effective teaching and learning across South Africa and the globe.