The effectiveness of remote learning: What is the impact on students and organizations?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many things have changed all around the world. One of the areas that has altered most notably is the education setting, in particular, higher education. Higher education organizations have been implementing some elements of remote learning for a while but, thanks to recent world events and the implementation of emergency remote learning facilities, the effectiveness of this as a long-lasting solution has become a hot topic.
When looking to implement an online learning solution, it is vital to evaluate how viable that solution is for your organization. In this guide, we will explain how effective remote learning is and how organizations can make distance learning more effective going forwards.
The basic definition of remote learning is that the student and teacher are separated by distance and, therefore, cannot carry out learning in person. Remote or distance learning is used when organizations adapt their teaching and student learning, branching out from the traditional environments of classrooms and lecture halls.
Technology is implemented in order to recreate as similar an experience as possible, using computers, laptops, phones, or tablets to do so, and using video conferencing techniques that connect teachers with learners so that instruction can be carried out through distance learning techniques.
While online learning has been in place within some organizations for a number of years in some form, over the last year, it has become a very pressing need. It has provided students and organizations with an emergency learning solution, which means that they could continue their education effectively without being physically present in an on-campus teaching environment. This has been completely invaluable throughout the pandemic.
When it’s effective, remote learning can offer a number of benefits:
Students study at own pace
Along these lines, it provides students with the ability to study at their own pace. This is a great tool, as an in-classroom teacher can only do so much to accommodate each student’s individual needs throughout the school year. In this way, students are able to study as much or as little as they require in order to feel they have fully understood the materials and ideas presented to them.
Students study whenever and wherever
Remote learning also opens up the possibility of students being able to study whenever they wish, and wherever they are. This allows students to study from home when they need to, no matter where that may be. This is a great tool for ensuring that students do not miss out on valuable learning, even when they may not be able to make it to campus.
Whilst remote learning can be effective in a number of ways, it can also present a few difficulties that should be overcome to make the solution as effective as possible.
However, it is not all positive. Distance learning has revealed a widening of economic disparities. Not all students have access to appropriate technology and therefore cannot carry out their studies from home. This often impacts those from lower-income families and is fundamentally unfair to those students.
Difficult for students to focus
Another issue that relates to many students and organizations is student engagement. It can be more difficult for students to focus their attention when they are leading their own learning. Learning from home provides a myriad of distractions that may mean that students are not as committed to their studies as they may be in a traditional classroom environment, resulting in a lower quality of work.
Learn more about the problems of remote learning and how to overcome them in our guide.
Remote learning can be an incredibly valuable way of helping students to continue their students during challenging times and supplement usual classroom environments. However, there can be some negative impacts of this on students.
Loss of interest
Students may suffer from a loss of interest in their studies if they are expected to carry out a great amount of studying independently. If they do not understand a topic, they may struggle to reach out and clarify the information and could fall behind. One way of remedying these issues is by ensuring that a teacher is available as much as is realistically possible – at least as much as they would be in a traditional classroom setting.
Setting up study sessions with groups of students, facilitated by a lecturer, is a great way of keeping students in touch with each other and engaged. This also works to remedy another issue, which is that students may feel isolated from the social element of higher education.
One of the biggest implications of remote learning is that students may suffer from poor mental health. If they struggle to balance their studies (for example, they cannot ‘switch off’ from the mindset of studying, as the resources are always available) or they feel isolated from their peers, this can have a very negative effect and may even cause them to leave their studies altogether.
Ensuring that your organization has a robust mental health service is important, and you should always be certain that students know how to reach out to these services, and that they feel comfortable doing so. Again, making certain that students and staff all touch base regularly can help with mental health issues caused by feelings of distance and disconnection.
Given the changing face of higher education, it is highly important that organizations work to make remote learning as effective as possible. With remote learning set to become a more permanent fixture, alongside traditional learning techniques, it’s important to make it as effective as possible for both students and their university.
Making sure online learning is effective starts from the implementation stage, with the technology. Implementing the right remote learning technology that is powerful enough to meet your student’s needs, while still being easily accessible is vital.
Solutions such as AppsAnywhere allow organizations to provide all of the software and apps that students require to complete their courses, anytime and anywhere. This type of technology, alongside solutions such as VDI and Virtual Desktops will help to ensure that students can access everything they need when they’re away from campus. These are the factors that help to make remote learning as effective as possible and provide a long-term and cost-effective solution for organizations.
Before the pandemic, many organizations had already implemented Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies to allow students to use their own devices both on and off campus to access a remote learning environment and complete their work. This made the transition to complete remote learning and then back to a blended approach much easier and makes a blended approach to learning easier and more effective to implement going forwards.
Staff equipped to deliver remote learning
Faculty staff should be fully trained in how to deliver a blended learning approach with effective teaching and should be knowledgeable about how to give students the best experience possible. In the same vein, it is essential that higher education organizations address the so called ‘digital divide; and make certain that all students have equal access to the correct devices on which they can access the resources and environments necessary to continue their education as seamlessly as possible.
For higher education organizations, offering a hybrid approach of remote learning and in-person teaching, as well as implementing the correct solution can be a cost-effective way to offer a blended learning approach. In addition, solutions such as BYOD and AppsAnywhere help to save costs on IT including the hardware required and the amount of time required by the IT department for updating hardware and software on a regular basis.