Transitioning From Emergency Learning to Online Learning

girl looks through window during quarantine

Around the world, people are experiencing online learning for the first time. From second graders who gather weekly in a class call, to attorneys completing continuing education credits, online has become the only way to learn. There’s just one problem. What we’re doing now is not really online learning. It’s emergency learning, and it’s not sustainable over the long-term. 

At eDevLearn, we love online learning. We believe it’s a powerful tool that makes education more flexible, accessible, and effective for many students. However, like most valuable tools, it works best when it is used as intended. You wouldn’t try to drive a screw with a sledgehammer. Yet that’s exactly what’s happening in online learning right now. 

Schools, universities, and continuing education providers are facing extreme pressure. A global pandemic, limits on group gatherings, and general uncertainty mean that everyone is in emergency mode. As a result, many are using a blunt instrument to perform the delicate task of facilitating learning. 

This cannot continue. An emergency response is not sustainable over the long-term. We must begin the transition away from emergency learning and toward a sustainable model for online education. Schools, universities, and training departments must make it a priority to develop curricula that include the tools, skills, and knowledge learners need to thrive. This is a lot to ask of people who are also facing their own personal and financial emergencies, but eDevLearn is here to help. 

The Drawbacks of Emergency Learning

In an emergency, we act as quickly as possible to meet the crisis with an understanding that this first response is meant only to stop the bleeding. The real work will happen on the long road to recovery. The longer we wait to start that process, the harder it will be. 

Like any emergency measure, the focus of emergency learning is on the speediness of response. When the pandemic struck and stay at home orders were announced, schools, universities, and trainers tried to give learners the bare-bones to keep learning until the crisis passed. That would have been fine if the crisis passed quickly. 

Now, many areas are in their second or third month of stay-at-home orders. Most schools have halted in-person learning at least until the fall. Some have already announced they will offer only remote learning through the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year. 

Meanwhile, learners are packed together in their homes, some with poor internet connections, young children demanding their attention, or financial pressures bearing down. All are trying to focus on learning while the stress of a global pandemic and economic disaster breathe down their necks. Helping these learners thrive will require a focused and intentional approach, one that uses the tools at our disposal to their greatest potential.

Boy engages in online learning during video conference with teacher.

What this crisis has taught us

There is good news. The sudden demand for online learning has shown us how flexible and effective online education can be. At the same time, it has revealed the flaws in our current system. Knowing that online learning can be effective, gives instructors, students, and institutions the incentive to give this new way of learning a chance. Meanwhile, awareness of its flaws shows us what we have to improve to make online learning as effective as possible for as many people as possible. 

We’ve learned a lot in such a short time. While online learning is not a panacea, it is a valuable and valid solution for many students at all levels of learning. If we address the development and improvement of online learning programs with an open mind and applied expertise, we can offer opportunity, flexibility, and efficiency for more students. 

Taking this insight one step further, we’ve learned that just-in-time learning may not be fast enough. Both adult learners working to advance their careers and teachers and instructors guiding students, need to constantly be looking ahead. What is coming? What is changing? How can we gain skills and expertise now to face the challenges that tomorrow might bring? 

For too long, getting comfortable with online learning and teaching seemed like something we could do later, when we had time. Now the time has come. The organizations that succeed, will be those who build themselves a firm foundation for online learning. 

eDevLearn Consulting Group can help. We want to equip your teachers and trainers with the tools and knowledge to run your own programs. Our goal is not to make you dependent on our services, but to empower your self-sufficiency. We create dynamic semester-long programs and targeted microlearning courses while guiding teachers and instructors toward mastery of education and communication technologies. 

Get off the emergency learning treadmill. Contact eDevLearn Consulting Group today. 

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