The education system, albeit slowly, was already evolving towards a digital transformation. Thus, more and more, 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 “off” and “on” world. Now, after the arrival of COVID-19, taking the definitive leap towards digitization is key to responding to the 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 the masters hybrid learning of EAE Business School, based on a methodology where 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 the 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: training pills of 15 - 20 minutes for 10 months through an online platform and with content made by great entrepreneurs or senior managers. Thus, with this model, the education sector as a whole has already been put in check. And it is that despite the fact that The Power MBA does not have an official title, it shows with its growing number of students and the recognition of its brand, that it is time to question the "status quo".
Thus, if something is clear, 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 in order to provide answers that cover the needs and priorities that arise in the student's new experience with their 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 school courses under way had to continue. The question was, how?
All schools went to work to find alternatives and solutions techniques that would allow them to continue with the school calendar making use of applications such as Moodle o Blackboard Tools that, without a doubt, have become the essential core of the course and keys to be able to offer online classes.
The main challenges of the education 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 student expectations being met? Are we complying with what they chose us for?
In the current situation, universities and business schools are facing great challenges that were perceived as distant when education was face-to-face:
- 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 students will take the tests without external help? Should ordinary exams be replaced by deliveries of continuous assessment?
- Practical team work. To organize assignments that were part of the continuous assessment, 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-year undergraduate students, however, in master's 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 something is clear, it is that when you decide to go to university, be it to pursue a degree or a master's degree, you are not only looking for theoretical knowledge. In this sense, are schools meeting these basic needs of students? Let's see how some Spanish universities are facing these challenges to take care of 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 “on” world and that is achieved by guaranteeing the following: connection quality to hear and see the teacher correctly; the dynamization of the class, asking questions to students through platforms such as Kahoot o Mentimeter; la interaction between students, from the creation of groups to work exercises in common 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 put its tool into practice 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 via video or audio between team members.
- El networking has been harmed, leaving 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 education system
If something is clear, it is that COVID-19 has come to shake the reality to which we were used. It has come to take us out of our comfort zone and act as a catalyst in all the reinventions that were more glimpsed in the medium / long term.
And now, thanks to this forced digital transformation, we see how the education sector is on the path of achieve quality training, flexible and adapted to social reality. To do this, we have to keep 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 mimic 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 education sector? Having seen what I have seen, I think so, and you?