The Rise Of Remote Learning In 2021
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4 Reasons Remote Learning Is On The Rise In 2021

Last year, COVID-19 created sudden dramatic shifts in how we lived, how we worked, and how we learned. A year later, we are still feeling the impact of the pandemic in our daily lives. Some of the changes, hastily made in response to stay-at-home orders, still exist in some form in our workplaces and schools—and will likely continue to do so for a long time. Not all of these changes have been positive, but, in the case of remote learning opportunities, it has allowed for more enthusiastic adoption, advances in technology, improved user experience, and increased visibility and appreciation of the power of this form of learning and training. Here’s why you can expect to see remote learning on the rise in 2021 and beyond.

Remote learning has gone from being an often-overlooked, and even unappreciated, option in the learning and training community to the norm for many learners around the world. Here are 4 of the top reasons why remote learning is poised for growth in 2021 and beyond.

1. It’s Becoming Mainstream

In the past decade, remote learning opportunities have increased, but there hasn’t always been a perception that an online degree is the same, or as good, as a traditional in-classroom degree. That perception has changed significantly in recent years, with data showing that, on average, students learning online perform slightly better than students who are learning the same material through face-to-face instruction.

Remote learning advantages have been documented as the option has become increasingly popular with students from all over the world. In 2016, long before the pandemic, nearly 6 million students, roughly one-third of college learners, were learning remotely [1], with 2.8 million of those students exclusively learning online.

A majority of K-12 educators expect the importance of online learning [2] and digital curriculum to grow over the next three years across remote learning, virtual learning, and the use of online content and resources. In the past, the biggest barriers for remote instruction have been lack of access to technology and engagement among students, but in this survey [3], respondents reacted positively to the use of technology as a way of engaging students: “The biggest benefits of educational technology is that it mirrors how students learn outside of school.”

2. It’s Accessible And Expandable

The idea (and, for some, fear) that technology could replace human instructors in education is not something unique to our lifetime—back in 1923, Thomas Edison argued that video clips would completely replace teachers and books! The truth is, learners are seeking high-quality information and a learning experience in a more accessible format. This year, during the pandemic, we saw that remote learning served as a key component that allowed so many students to continue learning despite stay-at-home orders and, later, school closures or hybrid learning environments. In fact, remote learning was a critical component in allowing so many people to stay home and support efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

During the early days of the pandemic, students were able to harness the power of mobile devices, like phones and tablets, to shift to a remote learning environment, gaining the ability to access content from anywhere. In addition to accessibility, remote learning solves the problem of classroom size; MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are free, easily accessible online courses offered by top universities from around the world that allow for limitless class sizes. In 2020 alone, MOOC participation grew by 60 million learners. The combination of technology and flexible class sizes makes remote learning more convenient and inclusive for learners and increases access to high-quality learning material.

3. It’s Interactive And Promotes Communication

The misconception that remote learning lacks interactivity is outdated. A well-designed course allows for communication and interactivity both between the learner and the instructor as well as between learners themselves. Learners are used to using mobile devices for communicating and interacting—and remote learning allows you to employ a broad range of resources and technologies to engage learners, most of which they’re already familiar and comfortable with. As an example, mobile learning provides course authors with opportunities to integrate features like gamification and social learning to increase interaction with their learners and add to a feeling of community in remote learning environments.

Remote learning also provides adaptivity, allowing for in-the-moment interaction and communication during a rapidly changing situation like the pandemic. By being able to clearly and efficiently communicate changes, students can feel reassured that their learning experience will not be interrupted or delayed due to external events like school closures.

Whereas in-classroom training can be harder to measure and improve, remote learning allows course authors to consistently improve on their offerings, maximizing the quality of their courses for their learners, by allowing them to gather and analyze data in real time. Features like surveys can help course authors identify, track, and resolve issues quickly and efficiently, maximizing the experience for the student.

4. Learners Enjoy It

Last, but certainly not least, many learners prefer the experience of remote learning to a traditional classroom experience. In addition to the reasons above, for many, it's a more affordable option, with lower tuition rates and no expense for commuting, room and board, and it also allows for a lower-stakes classroom experience. Remote learners gain the opportunity of not having to learn “on the spot” in front of their instructor and peers. Thanks to features like simulation training, which can help learners “experience” a skill virtually before they have to demonstrate it in real life, remote learning allows learners to practice and hone skills and knowledge in a low-risk atmosphere.

The Future Of Remote Learning Is Here

The world is recognizing the power of remote learning to provide high-quality, accessible, and adaptive experiences for learners, many of whom prefer remote learning over a traditional classroom setting. Remote learning provides a focused experience for learners that allows them to concentrate on their own work in a flexible, adaptable environment without added external pressures. This dynamic form of learning and training combines the flexibility and adaptability of technology with convenience and accessibility to provide an inclusive learning experience. With advances in technology and increased demand for virtual learning and training opportunities, the sky truly is the limit for remote learning.

References:

[1] What Employers Really Think about Your Online Degree

[2] Remote Learning Will Continue Growing over the Next Three Years

[3] The 2020 State Of Technology in Education <https://www.prometheanworld.com/state-of-technology-report/>

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