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Innovation in 21st Century Education

Moving learning online has come with countless challenges, but there have also been many positive impacts. As COVID-19 restrictions ease around the world, institutions are negotiating their back-to-class requirements for the Fall. With a potential return to classroom learning looming, this article will highlight some of the latest conversations around course design for online, in-person and hybrid learning.

In 2020, a cross-sectional study was undertaken to explore how distance learning affected students’ academic work. The research found that 64.5% of students indicated that the transition to purely online classes increased their academic workload, while some positive outcomes included saving time and money (from not having to commute). Another survey conducted by Barnes & Noble College Insights (2020) revealed that 42% of students see self-paced learning as a potential benefit of online learning, while 64% expressed concern about maintaining motivation in a remote learning environment.

These findings are consistent with earlier research which identified some of the perceived advantages of online learning to “include saving [students] time, fitting in better with their schedules, and enabling students to take more courses.”

With this in mind, how do you plan to set up your courses? Will you be moving back to traditional in-person learning, staying online, or employing a hybrid model? To help you weigh your options, here are some strategies and recommendations from around the world of higher education:

  • John Drea, Professor of Business at Illinois College discusses his experience implementing a Choice Model, which allows students to choose whether to attend classes in person or online.

  • Cornell University’s Center for Teaching Innovation provides essential recommendations for setting up a hybrid teaching environment and ensuring the delivery method enhances the learning experience.

  • SpringerOpen’s collection of literature on The Future Learning Environment: Pedagogical and Technological Perspectives shares practices on creating brand new learning environments that emphasize learning effectiveness, efficiency, flexibility and engagement.

  • Gaidi Faraj, Dean of African Leadership University reflects on the pandemic’s positive impacts, stating “it is also a massive opportunity to break out of old habits and create new, impactful, relevant modes of learning that take advantage of technology and this moment”

For more on learning in a post-pandemic environment, check out Crowdmark’s four-part Beyond 2021 series