The COVID-19 transition: How a global pandemic is forcing us to convert to an online teaching platform?
The covid-19 pandemic has had a great impact on the education system and is now forcing us to consider alternative modes of education. The following post gives a glimpse of the important aspects we need to consider during the phase of transitioning to online modes of
teaching, learning and training and how we as LIMINAL RESEARCH CONSULT will be able to assist.
Why is online learning so important right now?
As technology has greatly improved, the demand for innovative modes of delivery within the higher education sector has grown substantially. It has forced changes in teaching and learning approaches, models, methods and pedagogical approaches. Distance education being quite different from the traditional approach to education – consists of studying from home where students and teachers are physically distant from the classroom (Sadeghi, 2019). Traxler (2018) notes that formal distance education has tremendous potential to increase access to higher education and improve the diversity of students as online platforms offer opportunities to learn from anyone anywhere, at any time. Technology has been co-opted to promote transition, as universities and colleges are using online and distance learning methods to compete in distant markets. Furthermore, technologies are replacing human pedagogical and administrative roles, resulting in the increasing industrialisation of the core sector of universities and colleges (Traxler, 2018).
We have watched as the COVID-19 pandemic had spread globally and made its way to the southern part of Africa. This has contributed to a nationwide panic which resulted in forcing companies (and higher educational institutions alike) to limit their normal functionalities which could potentially have a great economic impact. This has forced many individuals to stay at home and isolate themselves from others to avoid the spread of COVID-19, thus implicating the normal functioning of face-to-face/traditional universities, colleges, and other teaching and learning institutions. Implementing online systems allows academic institutions to continue with the curriculum, allowing them to avoid any disruptive measures and still stay safe from contracting or spreading the virus. As noted by Ellie (2020) from Times Higher Education, universities that fail to transition successfully to online education following the novel coronavirus pandemic may be at risk of permanent closure. Increasing numbers of institutions in the US, Europe and Australia have shut campuses and switched to online classes over the past few weeks as the number of Covid-19 cases worldwide grew to more than 300,000 infected individuals (Bothwell, 2020).
The International Council for Open and Distance Education has noted that educators all over the world are encouraged to shift to online and distance provisions and therefore launched a task force and a global campaign called #learningtogether in order to offer global support for this endeavour. In this regard, UNESCO IITE is joining forces with UNESCO INRULED for a new handbook on Flexible Learning during COVID-19 titled “Handbook on facilitating flexible learning during educational disruption: The Chinese experience in maintaining undisrupted learning in the COVID-19 outbreak”. Retaining students to an online platform in this short amount of time can be challenging (Huang, Liu, Tlili, Yang, & Wang, 2020).
One should ask the question: Is this the ideal time to convert traditional classes to an online learning platform? Has the pandemic made higher educational institutions aware of the need to be able to transition and have you implemented the correct modalities to successfully incorporate online and distance platforms? If not, it is suggested to contact a specialist to assist as quickly as possible in this time of need.
As a South African research consultant practising within the higher education sector, I have noticed that some public universities are transitioning to an online platform in order to address this pandemic shutdown. Not all higher institutions have the infrastructure to incorporate online learning. This becomes worrisome for the future of the South African higher education sector as the demand for access to online educational platforms will become more prevalent. This brings to mind that perhaps the best time to implement online teaching systems would be NOW, amidst the growth of the internet generation.
Some of the things to consider when transforming physical classes to an online platform, in order to ensure classes are disrupted to a minimum are:
- reliable communication infrastructures
- Suitable digital learning resources
- Friendly learning tools
- Effective learning methods
- Instructional organisations
- Effective support services for educators and students (Huang et al., 2020)
We at LIMINAL RESEARCH CONSULT have implemented online structures to consult our clients, not just in a time of a pandemic but permanently. We provide research courses that you are able to complete online at your own pace and time (https://hennie-s-school.thinkific.com/). We also consult through means of implementing different communication platforms that allows for online workshop facilitation, online group work and online consultations (both synchronous and asynchronous). If you have not yet converted online please feel free to contact any of our consultants as we are able to assist with workshop developments in qualitative and quantitative research methodologies (https://liminalrc.co.za/) or workshops based on your needs.
Bothwell, E. (2020). Coronavirus could be ‘make or break’ for universities’ finances. Times Higher Education. Retrieved from https://www.timeshghereducation.com/news/coronavirus-could-be-make-or-break-universities-finances
Huang, R. H., Liu, D. J., Tlili, A., Yang, J. F., & Wang, H. H. (2020). Handbook on Facilitating Flexible Learning During Educational Disruption : The Chinese Experience in Maintaining Undisrupted Learning in COVID-19 Outbreak Please cite the work as follows : Smart Learning Institute of Beijing Normal University.
Sadeghi, M. (2019). A shift from classroom to distance learning: Advantages and limitations. International Journal of Research in English Education, 4(1), 80–88.
Traxler, J. (2018). Distance learning—Predictions and possibilities. Education Sciences, 8(1), 35.