The appetite for online learning has increased exponentially, especially with the recent pandemic. It looks as if many private learning businesses offer the fastest responses, and public institutions lag and do catch up job slowly.
Why the resistance, and what can institutions do about it?
While many technical colleges in developed economies engage themselves in digital learning experimentation, many developing economies struggle to include some form of digital learning.
Digital options offer alternatives for many students in technical and vocational courses. Why is this so important to these students?
Many of them struggle to work and study. These students have to support themselves to get any form of education as many countries do not offer free education.
Many have other obligations to the family, such as students in these courses are often married or have children.
Most of them want to shorten their schooling to land better-paying jobs, so online options allow them to enhance their studies. An Uber driver, for example, can go online anywhere he is waiting for users. This way, he can insert time while at work and finish courses quickly. Or those in developing economies who are working in hotels or restaurants. The option to go online and learn wherever they are is a boon to their finishing courses. I was in the dock hanging out with a student finishing his course on marketing, and he said with online options, he can finish by the end of the year and is already looking forward to job hunting. It's terrific that they have these opportunities.
For most adults today, there is a need to re-skill themselves to remain relevant in the workplace. The changes in workplaces today pose significant challenges even to those with post-secondary degrees. Those who have followed these changes opt for online courses to give them the certification they need for job changes.
I recently had a conversation with a couple who told me that their daughter, who is highly successful in her job right now, informed them that she is no longer thinking of getting her Ph.D. studies. Instead, she will opt to get a series of certification which she can easily do online from highly reputable institutions. There you go.
The options that digital learning offers is just mindboggling. It allows many working professionals to improve their skills even if they have their families to think of demanding jobs or other obligations. Many of them would never dream of leaving a career to go for full-time studies, nor would they skip their duties to growing their family.
The demand for digital learning will not slow down in the next few years. It will expand exponentially, and those providers who have the best options will find a highly lucrative market in this sector.
The government can encourage technical and vocational education institutions to develop their digital learning capability quickly. Early on, the Canadian government has given post-secondary institutions one-time funding to improve their digital learning infrastructure and digital learning courses. Other governments have done the same and have encouraged their institutions to offer digital options to students.
Institutions themselves must provide incentives to faculty to develop online courses. They must offer free training to their teachers to translate terms in digital formats so students can easily take these courses given their obligations.
These days, resources abound for faculty to offer their courses online. Some platforms make it easy for teachers to transform their course requirements for online delivery. Institutions must provide teachers these platforms and the needed tutorials to use these resources more effectively. These investments will surely pay off for these institutions.