The Covid-19 pandemic has had an unquestioned impact on daily life-changing fundamental behavior and forcing people to think differently about how they can accomplish their goals in such a challenging environment. Students of higher education, in particular, have been hard hit in these times. Many students who looked forward to heading off to college in the fall of 2020 now find that they may have to stay home and take courses online instead. For higher education institutions, online classes are becoming the new normal.  

Attaining Academic Excellence Online

One example is Stanford University, which shut down face-to-face instruction in March. The plan was to reopen in the fall, but thanks to ongoing concerns over Covid-19, online classes will be the default teaching option for undergraduates. In a message to the school community, Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said that “while in-person classes will be offered on campus, much of our undergraduate teaching will still need to be done online in the 2020-21 year.” 

Similarly in the Bay Area, the University of California Berkeley fall semester will begin with entirely remote instruction, contrary to earlier plans for a hybrid semester of online and in-person classes. The growing number of Covid-19 cases in the city of Berkeley and Alameda County led to the decision. According to university emails sent to students and staff, all in-person classes will be canceled for at least the beginning of the academic year. 

Some schools are adapting to what is known as a “hybrid model” that combines digital learning with some in-person instruction options when required. One example is with Caltech, which is going with the hybrid approach to ensure that faculty and instructors meet the university’s high academic standards and that students will be empowered to succeed. The university’s approach includes the following parameters:

  • Pre-approved courses that require live instruction will be offered, but all other courses will only be offered online. 
  • The university will continue to develop a robust technology and support infrastructure to improve the remote education experience, and opportunities for collaboration and discussion will be offered as well. 
  • New tools may include a new learning module system and expansion of iPad and pencil-loaner programs. 

Students and Higher Education Institutions Must Adapt to Online Models 

All around the world, students are finding ways to adapt to online classes with in-person learning being scaled back. It is a bit of a “forced experiment” for universities as they try to balance the safety of students, faculty, and staff—but still maintain their high standards for learning. Some students will find that online classes fit their learning style better than traditional classroom instruction, at least with some subjects and courses. In the longer term, many of these students may continue to seek out online classes for certain subjects or courses, even after in-person options become available again.

The changing dynamics and a shift in learning preferences will impact how students evaluate and choose the institutions they enroll in. Higher education institutions that embrace the possibilities of online classes as a regular part of their curricula will have a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining students.  

In order to be successful, higher education institutions can embrace some simple steps. They must remember that the most effective online classes are not merely traditional classes presented online. The course syllabus, lectures, labs, exercises, and peer interactions all must be re-designed for an online delivery model. Online classes should also be designed and delivered in a highly effective, and highly engaging manner. 

A Blended Learning Model Can Show You the Way

Simplilearn can help higher education institutions adapt to shifting student preferences for online instruction. Proven “blended learning” techniques have a track record of effectiveness and student satisfaction—demonstrating for these organizations how to select certain courses and turn them into a highly successful online bootcamp format—one they can offer to alumni as well as current students. 

The blended learning approach focuses on several key elements:

  • Comprehensive learning paths in the most popular fields
  • High-touch engagement model that brings students closer to instructors
  • Practical, hands-on training that includes projects and labs online
  • Outcome-centric focus that results in the highest course completion rates
  • Flexible, modular approach so students take the classes they need to learn the skills that will be valuable to them in the future. 

And blended learning is preferred by both teachers and students, with almost 60 percent of teachers reporting that students are more motivated in blended learning environments, and 70 percent of students saying they learn best in such an environment. 

Simplilearn’s Structured Online Approach

Over the years, Simplilearn has learned (pun intended) how to structure online courses for the greatest effectiveness and student satisfaction. The online bootcamp format provides for maximum learner engagement with the material at a pace that maintains learner enthusiasm. 

For schools of engineering, computer science, applied mathematics, and business, the courses in Simplilearn’s catalog closely match a number of courses in the institutions’ existing catalogs.  Simplilearn has created joint programs and catalog sharing partnerships with a number of institutions, including Purdue University, Duke University, and California Institute of Technology’s Center for Technology and Management Education.

An added appeal of adding these online courses in the digital bootcamp format is that they are ideal for working professionals. That makes them attractive to an institution’s alumni, so they are a great way to preserve and deepen the lifelong relationships the institution has with its alumni.

Conclusion: Give Students the Digital Learning Experience They Deserve

Any higher learning institution can create great digital offerings to meet the new expectations of today’s students. Partnering with Simplilearn will help you create a blended learning model that gives students compelling learning experiences in the online world. Here’s how to learn more about how to empower your students to be ready for the new world.