Remote and distance learning have been a part of higher education for decades. What began as courses delivered on videotape and satellite feed has evolved into expertly produced online degree programs that offer both superior learning outcomes and flexibility.
That combination, alongside an industry-relevant credential, is often well-suited for professionals balancing their education with work and family.
With COVID-19 forcing massive disruption in the workplace as millions of professionals transition to remote work, amidst the added pressures of homeschooling and childcare, adaptability is more essential than ever.
The recent pandemic has also uprooted residential education programs across the country, and university campuses are now looking to remote delivery as the essential path forward for the remainder of the spring semester.
The ability to make a transition of this scale at such a rapid pace is a testament to the advances and success in innovative educational delivery. However, the breakneck speed and unprecedented nature of the circumstances has forced a reset of expectations around online delivery, as well as an opportunity to discover creative solutions.
“None of us has experienced anything like this before,” says Yakut Gazi, associate dean of learning systems for Georgia Tech Professional Education. “We’re trying to transition what we’ve learned into the realities of today.”
As experts in the field of learning design, Gazi and her team of instructional designers have discovered a lot about how learning works best in an online environment. The current reality dictates an assessment of your approach for any learner – whether new or experienced in this setting. Here are their top five suggestions to consider:
- Make a plan for studying.
Whether it is digital or paper-based, create a written plan that delineates how you plan to accomplish your weekly work and upcoming assessments or assignments over the course or semester.
- Identify a time and place to work.
Once you have your plan in place, identify where you can establish the concentrated time you need for your learning and create a calendar. This can be especially challenging in the current environment, but work as much as you can protect the time and space you need.
- Recognize that you need support for your learning.
Proactively look for creative resources that can help complement your usual support system, like study or homework groups. Even when done digitally, make a commitment to stay connected and use them often and wisely.
- Become comfortable seeking help.
Everyone will encounter difficulties or have questions, yourself included. You will be well served by reaching out to educators, fellow students, and support staff for assistance or clarification. Seek out additional services as needed if you run into larger problems.
- Be kind to yourself.
It is essential to make mental health a priority and take care of yourself as much as possible. Remember that your peers are experiencing the same challenges, and look for opportunities to provide reassurance and grace to others and yourself.
Set Yourself Up for Success
While the present circumstances can often feel overwhelming, don’t be discouraged. It takes a tremendous amount of dedication and hard work to pursue online education, and even more during these difficult and unsettling circumstances.
“These are challenging times and it’s OK to be confused,” reminds Gazi. “You’re in charge of your learning and you have what it takes to persevere.”