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Next generation of remote learning, research notes from US higher education

2020.05.28 浏览量:

Introduction of Background

Because of the COVID-19, colleges and universities have moved classrooms to the digital platform. Many faculties are researching how to teach courses on the internet, which have the same utilities in the physical classroom. In the United States, many students complain about the online class doesn’t provide social connections. In western education, learn by group working is an essential educational culture. Coronavirus brings huge disasters to western traditional education. Statistical data from the “US national center for education statistics”, in 2017, there are 67.1% of the undergraduate students do not take courses from the internet. 18% of the students indicate they will take at least 1 online course each semester. This is our research problem, how can we help students learning, engage, and experience while operating remotely? We will provide 5 suggestions for universities. These moves will inspire institutions to innovate online education. Meanwhile, we also hope our students can quickly adapt to the blended learning environment when they return to the schools.



Suggestion 1 – Network and Equipment Access

The basic problems in online learning are the quality of the internet and devices. Some university offers student loan or borrowing service that provide hot-spot, laptop, and e-book reader. For example, the provides equipment loans and 24-hour technical support. The instructors and students can use the loans to purchase learning resources for special periods.

Universities should also design a variety of IT and learning options for students. For example, Zoom provides free cloud storage and meeting service for university members. In the United States, some low-income families may struggle with the learning environment. Universities and governments provide on-campus food and medical supplies to the students. Such as Mississippi State University are in a controlled, physically distant way. This gives us an idea, all of the universities should corporate together in China. They can provide some learning spaces for low-income families. For example, a student, whose hometown is in Chengdu, from Eurasia University can learn in Sichuan University.

Universities should also provide mental services on the internet, including video options for mental health professionals, partnerships with telehealth and counseling providers, and access to online mindfulness classes and applications.



Suggestion 2 – Support Faculty

Most professors have to re-create the courses for online learning. They also face difficulties to keep teaching goals with the same standards. Faculties should provide enough teaching support for instructors. Some universities hired some experts, who have online education experiences, as the assistants that help instructors design courses.

Social Media is a good platform that faculty can share best practices. Highlighting and explaining successful experiences can cultivate newcomers to digital education. Some faculties will inevitably start from different points in their comfort and skill with online teaching. So, the cultivation can significantly improve educational quality and create a knowledge-sharing culture.

Universities should also set up a structure so that faculty can get regular feedback on their remote teaching. For example, online surveys and learning data from the digital platforms are the common “teaching and learning” quality management system. Professors can use the data analysis results to improve the teaching methods rather than performance evaluation. Student tutor can also use the results to support student learning.



Suggestion 3 – Move the quad online, too

One of the values in higher education is the social network. Students can interact with each other and create some new ideas. As the classes move to remote learning, institutions should also consider how to use existing tools to support social activities.

One way is to use the current learning platform to create a single, central place – a kind of student center – with the live staff and consistent hours. For example, the University of Florida created an online student plaza. There are some learning tutors and IT supporters to answer the questions for university members. Students can also create a virtual room for group study. They can also invite teachers to join the online session.

Another way is to invite professionals from industry. Institutions should discuss the demands with the students, understand the needs to happen in terms of technology access, learning, and engagement. For example, some universities jointly hold webinars for students to learn climate change. Guest lecturers can join live discussion and guide students to make research. The essential advantages of remote learning is the ability to invite the industrial leaders from all over the world.



Suggestion 4 – Create a learning group

Universities are rich in human talent. To succeed in remote learning, institutions can invite some teachers and students, who have IT experiences, learn digital education, then teach other members. For example, Pennsylvania’s Muhlenberg College create a digital learning group (8 people). They learn new digital education methods in 4 hours per day. The group also provides supports to university members, include students, instructors, administration departments, and libraries. Another possibility is to ask alumni or community members to provide remote learning mentorship to support students with career development and virtual internship.



Suggestion 5 – Invest in Cybersecurity for remote learning

The rushed efforts to move to learn online have increased the risks of cyberthreats. Universities can reduce cyber threats by investing in the security system and creating information security courses. The IT department should also monitor digital records when students and instructors use university equipment.




[1] How many students take distance learning courses at the postsecondary level?https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=80

[2] Getting the next phase of remote learning right in higher education. Published by McKinsey & Company; AuthorChristine Heitz,Martha Laboissiere, Saurabh Sanghvi, and Jimmy Sarakatsannis.Date: 04/23/2020

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