What SA's universities have learnt about the future from Covid-19
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Not all higher education institutions have the skills to cope with remote learning needs.
The numerous waves of Covid-19 have seen students across the globe move towards distance learning on an unprecedented scale. However, not all institutions have managed to adapt to effectively serve the new demand for distance learning.
Here at home, a Mail& Guardian report in March found that “more than 90% of students” enrolled at public universities participated in online learning programmes of sorts in 2020.
Many lecturers lack the key skills for digital teaching. This has been echoed internationally by the Economic Policy Institute which also found that students must have access to the tools and experienced experts they need to thrive in a remote learning environment.
There are three critical factors for students and their parents to consider when choosing a higher learning institution for distance learning, says Chief Academic Officer, Dr Divya Singh from STADIO Higher Education.
“Quality, affordability and experience are the most important factors,” she says.
The advantages of distance learning are well-known. Students can learn at any time, learn at their own pace and study anywhere. It allows students to work while studying and makes provision for mobility, should their personal or societal circumstances change.
“Quality does not mean it must come with an expensive price tag. The reality is that distance learning can be affordable and, in our experience, can be 50% cheaper than contact learning options,” says Dr Singh.
At the same time, higher education institutions, have embraced technology and fast-tracked their online support structures to allow for effective distance learning experiences and keep up with the pace of change in technology.