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Problems with remote learning in higher education and how to overcome them

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Over the last year, remote learning has become a more prominent solution, primarily in the higher education sector. This new way of providing and accessing education has come with a range of fantastic benefits, however, it can also present a number of challenges and problems. These issues must be acknowledged, addressed and overcome to make remote work and study as effective as possible for both students and organizations.

In this article, we will explore the definition of remote learning, discuss the main challenges faced by students and organizations alike, and explain why overcoming them is so crucial for everyone within the organization.

What is remote learning?

The simplest definition of remote learning that it is virtual learning and teaching carried out off-campus, or distance learning. In practical terms, remote learning is when a student is not sharing classroom space with their peers and teachers. So, they are taught in an online forum.

Previously, higher education was lagging behind considerably in terms of remote learning. However, the pandemic has helped to push it forwards so that it is a more realistic option.

Remote learning is currently being used almost exclusively in higher education, with many organizations looking to model to a hybrid model in the future. When it comes to higher education, distance learning facilities have been used to run classes, make resources more accessible and create virtual lab environments for students when their physical settings are inaccessible.

The challenges of remote learning for students

While remote learning offers great benefits, students and organizations can also face considerable challenges. As long as the remote learning challenges are acknowledged when implementing a solution, these challenges can often be overcome.

Digital divide

The increase in online learning has highlighted the ‘digital divide’ between students. This means that not every student has access to a device or the right internet connection to be able to access online learning solutions.

Many students may have been reliant on the on-campus equipment they were previously able to access daily. For all students to benefit from remote learning, organizations must ensure that they are equipped with the correct device, on which they can work effectively. This would mean that you may consider using part of the organization’s budget to ensure that this is the case.

Student dissatisfaction

Many students have shown or expressed their dissatisfaction with remote learning opportunities offered by their university. They have cited IT issues, lack of connection with their tutors and a lack of clear instruction.

Certain practical degrees (such as sciences) are also difficult to carry out remotely.

It’s difficult for organizations to address all of these issues, but an increased emphasis on providing systems that work as reliable as possible is vital to student satisfaction and their learning experience. This means carefully planning and considering the roll out of systems as much as possible before a full roll out is completed.

Student wellbeing

It has become more important than ever to provide both teaching and personal support for students, as many struggle with the lack of interaction with their peers or tutor, which has a direct impact on their wellbeing. Introducing initiatives where students have time to socialise online and offering counselling through the organization within a distance learning environment is a great way to help students cope in difficult times and to help with student engagement.

The challenges for Higher Education organizations in implementing remote learning

Students are not the only ones struggling to make a smooth transition. Organizations have also come up against remote learning difficulties when implementing solutions.

Cost

The cost of purchasing and implementing new software to connect students and allow them to enjoy continuity of education cannot be overlooked and, for some institutions, this has proven to be quite prohibitive. However, it is possible to implement cost-effective options which can still give students access to the resources they need. While this option might not be as flexible or as valuable in the long term, they can work while it is decided how much remote learning will be a part of the future.

However, since many organizations have already put measures in place during the initial rush to implement new solutions, now is the time when longer-term solutions are becoming important. They may be more expensive in the short term but can prove cost-effective as they continue to be used year on year.

Lack of infrastructure

One factor that has come to light over the last twelve months is that many organizations suffered from a lack of infrastructure for online learning and offering online classes and did not have security in place to allow new systems to be implemented safely. The best way to combat this is to implement reliable systems that come with some security assurances, such as remote access virtualization solutions, which are a particularly effective distance learning solutions.

Why is it important to overcome these challenges?

It can be tempting for higher education organizations to brush these challenges off and hope for a return to full-time, in-person classroom learning. However, it is likely that in the future, remote learning will be used more frequently.

In overcoming these challenges, organizations can support Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, reducing the overall budget for on-campus equipment. This also answers increasing calls to allow students to access materials anytime, anywhere, allowing them to study wherever they are, at their own pace.

Using the right software is a vital part of making remote learning work for both students and staff, and overcoming the obstacles we have outlined in this article, as well as others that may be encountered along the way.

Our flexible solutions at Software2 provide students with flexibility and access to computer labs not just wherever they are, but whenever they need. This provides a higher level of freedom, as they can use the apps they need at a time that suits them, working at their own pace. This reduces the need for in-person classes, and the frustrations students feel over having low accessibility.

It also makes delivering the software easier and more straightforward for organizations, so that this can be rolled out quickly and easily.

Going into the future, it is likely that a blended learning approach will become more and more common and addressing these challenges now will allow any higher education organisation to be ready for this.

To find out more about Software2’s remote learning solutions, please contact our expert team today.