Looking back at when the pandemic was first declared by the WHO on March 11, it was a significant scramble for most organisations just to transfer normal business activities and interactions – training included – to a virtual, online format.
Months later, many organisations and educational institutions alike have developed a certain level of comfort with their new virtual reality. With this comfort having been established, the task now on the table is how to improve online learning, and what trends are likely to emerge.
While most of the following article talks about colleges and universities, great tidbits can be found in the “What is next for Online Learning During / After COVID-19?” section.
1. A dramatic growth of quality, blended learning.
While not all experiences of online learning will be positive, many faculty, instructors and students will better understand and appreciate the value of asynchronous learning management systems (D2L, Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle) and synchronous tools for collaborative group work (Zoom, Adobe Connect, FaceTime, Google Hangouts).
We will see more “flipped classrooms” in the future than we did in the past and there will be a new and expanded focus on engaging students in their learning.
2. Strategic priority on online learning at every college and university.
Almost all colleges and universities included online learning in their strategic plans by 2019, but not all acted with vigour and determination to implement these plans. Now they will.
They will also realize how essential an investment in faculty and instructor’s development and training is for the successful implementation of quality online learning as well as the need for a robust technology infrastructure.
3. A growth in demand for skills-based learning.
High levels of unemployment across a range of sectors will lead many residents to seek new skills and capabilities to help insulate them from the economic and personal “aftershocks” of the lockdown.
Demand for skills-based learning will grow, but this may look very different from past demand. A focus on short courses, micro-credentials, experiential learning and work-based learning accreditation, based on demonstrable competencies, will replace the demand for long, campus-based programs.
Employers will also demand evidence of skill and competence – more than a transcript or a grade.
4. A refocusing of programs.
Some programs may now be deemed more important than others – healthcare, artificial intelligence, food and supply chain management, for example, may be more important than programs in international finance or marketing.
But more significantly, all programs will need to give more emphasis to the “soft” skills of collaboration, teamwork, critical thinking, adaptability, resilience. New approaches to virtual work, discovered by many workers during the lockdown, may also demand new skills.
New models of accountability, leadership and human resource management also appear as organizations adjust to virtual work. This re-balancing of content with personal qualities requires a re-evaluation of how faculty and instructors teach based on the need to strengthen the skills and capabilities realized as critical at the time of the crisis.
5. A commitment to ending the digital divide.
The shift to online learning, amongst other realizations, brought home the fact not all can access high quality broadband from home.
It is also clear a larger number of students than anticipated did not have access to or familiarity with reliable and useful devices (laptops, tablets, desktops, video systems, audio systems) needed to be effective online learners.
In 2018, the Canadian Radio-television and TelecommunicationsCommission (CRTC) reported 63% of rural households in Canada did not have access to 50 MBPS download/ 10 MBPS upload Internet, the government’s minimum speed target for service that delivers the features of the modern digital economy. The situation is similar or worse in many other parts of the world, especially for marginalized communities.
Many students from low-income households lack Internet at home and more students than original envisioned may be relying on computers in local libraries and community centres to connect. Many of those students in the lowest income quintile of households do not have a computer. If we are to leapfrog to a truly focused, digital economy, this has to change.
As mentioned in a previous article, CIET is currently implementing a $50k+ plan to adapt and improve its training programs for virtual delivery for the fall. While we might not get to the point of the “flipped classrooms” mentioned in the article, we’re working to lessen the number of slides covered in a course, to provide room for more hands-on and interactive content. We’re also investing in training our roster of trainers to ensure they adapt their great training skills to the virtual delivery model.
The article also mentions that “High levels of unemployment across a range of sectors will lead many residents to seek new skills and capabilities to help insulate them from the economic and personal “aftershocks” of the lockdown.” This is in line with what the Canadian Task Force for a Resilient Recovery also recently announced under recommendation 3 of its first of 5 “bold moves” for a resilient recovery: Train a diverse green building workforce. They suggest investing $1.25 billion in workforce development for energy efficiency and climate resiliency, including for enhancing access to training programs and for developing new approaches.
CIET is proud to be in a position to help Canadians progress in their career through energy efficiency training for close to 25 years now. Energy efficiency is by far the fastest, easiest and most logical way to fight climate change and should be a key part of any sustainable or resilient recovery.
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COVID-19 Information for CIET Fall 2020 Training Calendar – CIET Goes Virtual!
Last Updated: June 19, 2020
With close to 25 virtual real-time courses offered since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis under our belt, and based on feedback received from more than 300 participants, CIET is happy to inform that all public training sessions offered in the fall of 2020 will be delivered through virtual real-time classrooms.
This will allow everyone to continue accessing CIET training in a safe manner, which protects both our participants and our trainers, regardless of what happens in the fall. You can register for these virtual courses in confidence, knowing that they will provide the same quality of training that you expect from CIET. These real-time training sessions will be available to all participants across Canada.
You can find more information about CIET’s virtual training approach:
Through all these measures, CIET hopes to provide as much flexibility as possible to training participants while respecting its commitments to other participants, trainers and partners, as well as public health recommendations.
We thank you very much for your trust and collaboration and look forward to welcoming you in our virtual classrooms!
The CIET Team