Learning environment

Distance learning is here to stay

Matt Jones, founder and chief executive of online university Oxbridge, which delivered more than 250 course topics in more than 54 countries around the world in 2021, explores how individuals can optimize their home learning environment and what providers can do to support them.

According to Statista, the global e-learning market was valued at $101 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $370 billion by 2026. Closer to home, 13% of Britons have used an online course in 2020, and despite the lockdowns catalyzing the remote learning trend, it was already the direction of travel for a whole host of people looking for better value, flexibility, and experiences through remote learning.

Distance learning creates a pathway to develop skills outside of the traditional classroom setting, providing individuals with the opportunity to learn without limits – on their own terms around other aspects of their lives. With distance education here to stay, learners and providers should take into account some key considerations to get the most out of the experience.

Reap the reward as a learner

Although online and edtech platforms offer greater flexibility to adapt to lifestyle and personal circumstances, maintaining an element of structure is still essential. A timetable and a plan for tackling course content, meeting deadlines, or preparing for exams, helps more than anything with organization and time management and is at the heart of success for many. Tutors can also provide advice on meeting deadlines and revising exams – a valuable dialogue between learners and educators.

Coupled with a tailored overhaul plan that focuses on peak hours to maximize your productivity – whether you’re a person who works best in the evenings or early mornings – having the right environment for the job is essential. home. Access to the right technology, a quiet space away from distractions, and access to appropriate course materials or learning guides are essential.

Home learners can also use proven techniques such as “active recall,” which aims to move knowledge from short-term memory to long-term memory by creating self-directed challenges. In your home learning space, this might mean writing your own quizzes or leaving questions around the room or on fridges and furniture to test later. When paired with visual review aids such as flashcards, mind maps, and flowcharts, this is especially successful. Another key strategy is spaced repetition, which aims to revise repeatedly at specific intervals leaving spaces between sessions to allow information to sink in.

While it is the responsibility of distance education providers to create, facilitate, and promote a sense of community that virtual classrooms require, classmates are encouraged to take advantage of these social opportunities whenever possible, meeting virtually or in person to discuss courses, test themselves and review all topics. Outside of course content, the benefits of social interaction while learning helps students share challenges and celebrate successes together. The old adage that “it’s up to you” holds true here, and we encourage all learners to take advantage of any opportunity to engage with their peers and educators before, during and after a course, especially in an online environment.

Fostering a community while emphasizing access and affordability – provider responsibilities

Arguably the most important aspect of home learning for education providers to offer is fostering a sense of community for students, and being visible and available to provide ongoing support offsite. a physical classroom.

Apart from core course assets and textbooks, access to additional digital resources in a range of formats and with content to support learners outside of the curriculum is crucial to providing a fuller and richer experience. For example, Oxbridge has created a free Job Ready Pack in association with Hinterview and Pertemps to help our learners with their future development when considering career opportunities. The pack has been downloaded by over 30,000 people to date, helping to prepare them with real-world skills and boost their appeal to employers.

As the online e-learning market continues to grow, attracting a wide range of people who need or want greater flexibility and value for money, access to digital education has become a societal necessity. Yet digital poverty continues to be a problem, with only 51% of households earning between £6,000 and £10,000 a year having home internet access at the start of the pandemic, compared to 99% of households with an income above £40,000. . Support from providers could help tackle these inequalities and open online home learning to more people.

Financial assistance is also a possible solution. Regional inequalities are at the center of government plans to improve, address and increase access to opportunities. Oxbridge offers a Leveling Up Fund – a contribution of £75 towards the cost of any course for all new students to make education more accessible and affordable. Often it is the first step that matters most, so lowering barriers to entry must remain a key objective for the entire industry.

Our classrooms of the future

Underlining the continued upward trajectory predicted in the e-learning market, data from the Central Bureau of Statistics revealed that 76% of employed people planning to return to school would choose “distance or blended” learning. In addition, the Government’s commitment to fund the £5 billion Gigabit Broadband scheme, which is expected to bring gigabit broadband to 85% of UK premises by 2025, is expected to make online learning more accessible.

Additionally, a 2019 report commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said digital skills are becoming near-universal requirements for employment, with roles requiring digital proficiency paying an average of $29. % more than roles that are not. Online learning, by its very nature, can help develop some of the digital and computer skills required for 56% of medium-skilled jobs and 68% of high-skilled jobs.

If the government’s proposed ‘new minimum university requirements’ are implemented, many potential learners may need to seek alternative routes to traditional higher education. As such, the chance to not only seize the opportunity offered by online learning, but to maximize the experience, is there for these people and the sector.

By Matt Jones, Founder and Managing Director of Oxbridge Online College

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