Educational institutions around the world have quickly embraced online learning during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to ensure the continuation of study during these challenging times. The questions now facing educators are: could the pandemic be the catalyst for the permanent integration of e-learning in school systems? And what will remote learning look like when this crisis subsides.
It’s now a certainty that with remote learning becoming the primary delivery mechanism of education for an extended period of time, that there is no turning back. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink education, presenting a unique opportunity to bridge a generational divide between educators and students, and making education more exciting, entertaining, and creative.
But we must be ready for further changes as education evolves to become more like other online services, such as Uber taxis, which can reach their customers no matter where they are. The traditional methods of education are likely gone forever, to be replaced with a hybrid model that combines traditional on-campus learning with digital tools. The ‘digital campus’ is now a reality with advanced technologies becoming the educational tools of the future.
The effectiveness of remote-based technologies on education is now proven through a range of administration and student services applications, in addition to e-learning, which is especially suitable for theoretical subjects. However, we must build on these successes without neglecting applied education, which requires laboratories and workshops. We must re-examine the way education is delivered and support it with modern technologies and best practices in line with the UAE’s national vision for universities to produce great entrepreneurs and thinkers.
Remote learning also opens the door to a future of creativity and competitiveness for educational institutions, technology providers, and, most importantly, students. In a post-pandemic landscape, campuses as we know them could disappear entirely and be replaced with new applications, innovations, and scientific research activities. The digital campus will provide comprehensive and highly efficient education services that are superior to today’s in almost every respect. Competition between institutions will intensify as they race to offer services and courses that are more attractive to students, perhaps even creating programs tailored to students’ interests and abilities using Artificial Intelligence to analyze demand through Big Data.
The accelerated global shift towards remote learning and its technologies appears to be more than a temporary alternative during exceptional circumstances. Many educators and students have wholeheartedly embraced the change and believe that remote learning is opening the door to innovation and competitiveness across the educational landscape. We should be ready.
Dr. Abdullatif Al Shamsi
President & CEO, Higher Colleges of Technology