For over twenty years early adopters of eLearning spent time and energy trying to convince administrators, quality standards committees, funding agencies, and academic staff of the merits of digital education and the necessity of the education industry to pioneer new approaches to teaching and learning to meet the needs of learners in the 21st century. In March 2020, education institutions around the world abruptly shut down physical campuses due COVID-19 and the need for social distancing. ‘Stay at home orders’ sent students back to their parents’ homes and administrations suddenly promoted digital education as the way to save the student’s academic year, institution costs, and allow education to be one of the few industries able to function during a pandemic. Stressed academic staff, many with little or no knowledge of how to design or deliver digital education, scrambled to convert face-to-face study-units to online study-units. Suddenly digital education was pole vaulted into the fray, and stakeholders didn’t have any choice but to accept online education options.
The overwhelming pressure on higher education has not only resulted in changes for students and academics, but also administrators to provide an infrastructure that offers intentional development of educational supports and training to ensure the quality of the educational experience. The emergence of the new instructional paradigm means that all higher education institutions need to develop a targeted implementation strategy and devise and revise quality assurance protocols to extend to digital education delivery methods and ensure they focus on appropriate inputs, processes and outcomes.
Many countries are planning and implementing widespread reforms in higher education that provide flexible educational and training solutions corresponding to individual and community interests and labor market needs. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront the importance of technology and online learning best practices in facilitating higher education in a changing world. Academic staff must be able to adapt their course material online and utilize platforms that are accessible to their students. Supporting academic staff in transitioning from traditional teaching methods to online learning contexts can improve student learning opportunities, satisfaction and success. Importantly, students must be able to access content from areas with poor Internet connections so that education becomes a place of equal opportunity.
This project is designed to highlight new learning processes that will result in educators taking the first steps toward the effective design and delivery of online education products. The series was created through a small grant awarded by the Hollings Center for International Dialogue to Colla MacDonald (CollaLearning Corp.) and Shamsad Mortuza (University of Liberal Arts, Bangladesh). This project originated from the Hollings Center’s South Asia Higher Education Symposium in 2019.
[blog category=”100″ perpage=”4″ pagination=”” ]