Coronavirus Catapults eLearning, Virtual Work and a Reduction in Carbon Emissions
Robin Regina Baker, CEO, graspU
School closures in the USA, Italy, Japan, Hong Kong, China and other countries have, to date, kept 300 million students from attending schools and we are only in the beginning stages of this outbreak. So now what? There are a lot of questions to be asked, like:
- How long will these schools be closed?
- How many more schools will be closing in the coming months?
- How many children will be kept home from school in 2020?
- How will the children continue to learn without falling behind?
- How will parents work from home in order to take care of their children?
While the answers to these questions have only begun to be estimated, the questions we can answer are “How will children continue to learn without falling behind?” and “How will parents work from home in order to take care of their children?”
“How will children continue to learn without falling behind?”
The answer to this question is clear: eLearning platforms. But eLearning isn’t enough. The eLearning platforms must have advanced features to fit today’s needs. These features include:
Online/Offline Access to Courses
By allowing students to work on their courseware offline, it relieves the cost burden of paying for high-speed Internet services at home. If a student (or their parents) cannot afford these expenses, they can take their mobile devices to a café, public library, or community center that offers free WiFi to download their courseware to their mobile device(s) to be interacted with later, offline, much like Netflix offers their viewers.
Types of Learning Needed
- Asynchronous Learning: This type of learning allows students the opportunity for self-paced or independent learning. Asynchronous learning provides students with course content and assignments (with or without due dates) to complete on their own, online.
- Synchronous Learning: This type of learning requires students to interact with teachers online to review the courseware they are required to learn.
- Blended Learning: This type of learning is a hybrid approach to Asynchronous and Synchronous learning. It’s the best of both worlds in that teachers can provide and assign independent learning modules/courses while also providing instruction on the subject-matter “live, on-line.” In layman’s terms, students can login to live sessions with teachers, can be seen and/or heard by the teacher during interactive sessions, and when the sessions are completed, each student’s coursework awaits them inside of the eLearning platform for completion.
Some Advanced eLearning Features Needed to Ensure we are Working Together and Accomplishing Goals
- VOIP: Typically, schools and/or companies use eLearning Platforms for Synchronous and Blended Learning but they also utilize external VOIP (voice over IPs) like Zoom, GoToMeeting, etc. to enable them to provide the blended learning needed. However, that is no longer necessary. Now, eLearning Platforms can provide both aspects of blended learning by offering an embedded VOIP in the platform itself which provides ease of use, reduced expenses, and a seamless interaction for both the teachers and the students.
- Data Analysis and Collection: eLearning also provides teachers, schools, and/or school districts with much-need data required by government and/or other officials to prove that students have been engaged and are accomplishing goals.
Content is King
There is a lot of content created by teachers for students and by companies for employees, but where does it live? Usually, it lives all over the place (personal computers, work computers, intranets, LMS’, etc.). So how do you get the much-needed content (i.e., courseware) in one place for ease of use and to promote engagement? The answer is content aggregation. Schools and businesses alike have required legal compliance training, onboarding, policy acceptance, and (of course) courseware that needs to be shared and completed for compliance and to reach benchmarks (including state and/or national education standards).
If a school’s content is disparate, the learning on the part of the students (and staff) will be disparate too. The key is to find an eLearning Platform that allows you to include all of your own, proprietary, courseware as well as allow you to include any “external” courseware you may buy or lease, all in one eLearning platform. Otherwise, you run the risk of user confusion and low engagement on some or all of the content.
“How will parents work from home in order to take care of their children?”
As described above, parents that typically work in offices and commute to work, have the same opportunity as their school-age children: Work and learn from home in order to not to be exposed to the coronavirus and/or spread the coronavirus.
Again, the online/offline (Netflix Model) can help parents reduce the expense of high-speed WiFi while the Blended Learning Model can enable them to stay engaged with colleagues through embedded VOIP and professional content that needs to be shared amongst teams. In the case of the Blended Learning Model and virtual workers, most expect to use an external VOIP and then file sharing platforms like DropBox, GoogleDrive, etc. Instead, with the right eLearning platform, parents can work virtually while their children are home from school, and won’t need to pay for VOIP and/or sharing platform subscriptions. Of course, the eLearning Platform should also provide the aggregation of presentations, learning content, legal compliance courses, corporate policies, etc. to ensure a high-level of engagement and course completion.
With no doubt, the Coronavirus is causing people across the globe to change their lifestyles. Young students, their parents, and workers alike will be affected by this virus in more ways than we could have anticipated.
Are there any silver linings in all of this? The answer is, “Yes.” Here’s why:
- These behavioral changes can limit the spread of the virus, and thereby cause less sickness and death for people of all ages from all backgrounds.
- Families my bond together more so than ever before. Staying at home with children, even while they are learning and you are working, enables parents to improve their relationships with their children and probably also allow them to improve their parenting skills based on the fact that they will see their children’s behaviors and tendencies, first hand, without the distraction of outside busy schedules. Clarity will ensue.
- According to livescience.com, “The new coronavirus’ impact on China is so stark that it can be seen from space — as a dramatic drop in air pollution, according to data from U.S. and European satellites (livescience.com, 2020). Therefore, a reduction in carbon emissions and potentially a reduction in global warming could be in play due to the Coronavirus and the change in our behaviors, globally.
Robin Regina Baker is an e-learning guru who developed several programs for K-12 math and language arts. Robin’s original ed tech company, Learning Today, pioneered gamification in the ed tech industry and was then sold to a large publisher which has distributed the products to millions of students under the name of “iReady.” Since then, Robin developed graspU, an e-learning platform with advanced technological features to meet the needs of today’s learners and virtual workforce.