The education system, albeit slowly, was already evolving towards a digital transformation. Thus, increasingly, universities and business schools were incorporating new technologies in their day to day; from collaborative platforms to hybrid programs that combined the best of the world "off" and "on". Now, after the arrival of COVID-19, taking the definitive leap towards digitization is key to respond to new needs in the student experience.
And it is that this transformation of the educational system we are already beginning to see in cases such as masters hybrid learning from EAE Business School, based on a methodology where it merges the best of the face-to-face world and the best of the online to offer a unique and global training format, or at distance universities such as International University of Valencia, based on a completely online methodology and a benchmark in the field of educational innovation.
Another clear example of trend towards digital we found it with The Power MBA which, as his own motto already tells us, is about “The business school that changes the rules”. In October 2017, four partners founded this business school betting on a disruptive training model based on the microlearning: 15-20 minute training pills for 10 months through an online platform and with content made by large entrepreneurs or senior managers. Thus, with this model, the educational sector as a whole was already put in check. And it is that although The Power MBA does not have an official title, it makes clear with its growing number of students and the recognition of its brand, that it is time to question the "status quo".
So, if something is clear, it is that it is necessary offer online alternatives to students and make consumption more flexible. Of course, without forgetting to take care of what the student lives and feels to be able to give answers that cover the needs and priorities that arise in the new experience of the student with her university or business school.
How is the sector facing educational accelerated transformation?
COVID-19 arrived in Spain at the end of February to completely change the social landscape. All sectors had to be renewed and adapt to the circumstances for your employees and your customers, Whether they were prepared for it or not.
Thus, the education sector was one of the first in suffering the consequences of COVID-19. And it is that the suspension of classes was even prior to the declaration of the state of alarm in some autonomous communities. Faced with this situation, luckily or unfortunately, all the current academic years had to continue. The question was, how?
All schools went to work to find alternatives and solutions techniques that allow them to continue with the school calendar using applications such as Moodle o Blackboard Tools that, without a doubt, have become the essential core of the course and keys to being able to offer online classes.
The main challenges of the educational system in times of coronavirus
However, despite being aware of the digital transformation that the education sector needed, are we close to what is necessary to offer quality distance education? Are the expectations of the students being met? Are we fulfilling what they chose us for?
In the current situation, universities and business schools are facing great challenges that were perceived as distant when education had a face-to-face character:
- Interactive distance classes. Universities already had an increasingly complete student portal, but, Were you prepared to host online classes simultaneously with hundreds of students? The truth is that classes are the backbone of any course, both the content taught and the interaction that is usually generated between students and teachers. Can we take this to the digital world?
- Remote exams. Until now, even some of the online universities did the exams in person. Can we guarantee that the students will take the tests without external help? Should ordinary exams be replaced by continuous assessment assignments?
- Practical teamwork. To organize works that were part of the continuous evaluation, the students met in person to work together on an assigned practical case. And now, how can they be coordinated?
- Networking. It is true that, on many occasions, it is not the main priority of first grade students, however, in master or postgraduate courses, it is a decisive element for those who decide to embark on a new professional project. How do we maintain the university community? What tools do we give students so that they can continue to communicate with each other?
How are you working to improve the student experience from a distance?
If one thing is clear, it is that when you decide to go to university, either to study for a degree or a master's degree, you are not only looking for theoretical knowledge. In this sense, are the educational centers covering these basic needs of the students? Let's see how some Spanish universities are facing these challenges to care for and improve the student experience.
- As we have seen, interactive classes They play a fundamental role in the student experience. We have to bring the best of face-to-face classes to the world “on” and this is achieved by guaranteeing the following: connection quality to hear and see the teacher correctly; the revitalization of the class, launching questions to students through platforms such as Kahoot o Mentimeter; la interaction between students, from the creation of groups to work in common exercises with tools such as Blackboard Collaborate that allows to create virtual interactive work rooms.
- There are several universities that plan to carry out exams in ordinary call. For example, the Pontifical University of Comillas has carried out more than 70.000 telematic examinations and has made use of Respondus to carry out your ordinary evaluations. On the other hand, CUNEF has implemented its tool Canvas to respond to this need.
- For the development of Teamworks there are tools like Miro o Popplet, which facilitate the sharing of ideas from virtual whiteboards, in addition to other platforms such as Teams, Zoom o Google Hangouts that allow simultaneous interaction through video or audio between team members.
- El networking has been harmed, with interactions reduced to the closest environments, virtual chats and communities generated on the platforms of Moodle o Blackboard. Therefore, we should not forget Linkedin and the importance of taking care of the personal brand on this platform.
COVID-19, the turning point for the educational system
If something is clear it is that the COVID-19 has come to shake the reality to which we were accustomed. It has come to get us out of our comfort zone and act as a catalyst in all the reinventions that were looming in the medium / long term.
And now, thanks to this forced digital transformation, we see how the education sector is on the path of get quality training, flexible and adapted to social reality. To do this, we have to continue learning and deciding which tools are best suited to meet the needs of both students and teachers. We have to take the best of both worlds (“on” and “off”) to blend them and create a suitable environment for everyone.
In short, we must take advantage of this situation to set precedents and continue to evolve in improving the student experience. Will the coronavirus be a turning point in the educational sector? Seen what I have seen, I think so, and you?