Nobody needs to be reminded of the seismic cultural shift that the COVID-19 crisis is having on the educational landscape, with online education being increasingly used.
The UK Higher Education sector is facing a potential £1bn project to adapt to digital delivery. But this is a project with little time for planning and development.
With such uncertainty in the immediate future, many UK HE providers are turning to established online educational providers for support and guidance.
Not all courses transfer easily to the online environment.
How can universities provide a decent student experience for those who need access to labs and studios?
There is no magic wand. But there is a glimpse of light in all the darkness. What we do have is an infrastructure to deliver and consume educational content through digital means.
So, how is the HE sector dealing with this sudden, radical shift in delivery?
The Costs of Going Online
Some courses translate better than others to the digital environment. Tutorials and seminars become video conferences, and lectures can be pre-recorded and enhanced with additional chat-room support. There are various challenges to Online education.
But universities – by nature – innovate and challenge. They lead the way in research methodologies that help solve industrial and societal challenges.
And access to specialist equipment facilitates their teaching and learning.
This means that this is not a straightforward transfer, and the HE sector is facing a bill of up to £1bn to maintain their portfolio of courses to attract new students.
The Open University
The Open University has always delivered teaching and learning to distance learners.
And the organisation has been investing in impressive technologies, providing distance learners with the hands-on laboratory experience they need.
The OpenSTEM Labs were built in 2015 and offer a virtual university campus, providing an “Internet of Laboratory Things”.
The user accesses the laboratory by remotely-operating robotic instruments. Using on-screen interfaces, the student drives the experiment, providing the type of experiential practice they need to develop their learning.
So, some infrastructure is there. But these are dizzyingly expensive solutions that require planning and controlled roll-out – luxuries that just aren’t afforded to the sector right now.
Immediacy is the obstacle and, while many universities are just about fighting the fire of this academic year, they’re desperately planning solutions for September.
There many established online educational providers who already offer educational support via eLearning solutions, and many universities are looking to them for the help that they need in the short-term.
This gives universities the breathing space they need while they address the long-term impact of this national emergency.
TutorNinjas – Online Tutoring
This is where companies like TutorNinjas are ideally placed to provide educational support for individuals and organisations alike.
With a growing repertoire of teaching staff and an ever-expanding portfolio, companies like TutorNinjas are finding that their value is – at last – being recognised.