Online Education in the Era of COVID-19
Online education became an option years ago for those who wanted to pursue an education from the convenience of their own homes. This was especially ideal for working professionals who already found much of their time consumed by a full-time job and found it difficult to commute to a campus. Parents also benefited from this option, suddenly finding themselves able to take classes and still be at home to care for their children. Now, during the age of COVID, many of us have found ourselves engaging in the online education world. Here is everything you need to know if you are considering pursuing education in the COVID era.
Every Program is Different
This is where it is important to do your research. Different programs have drastically different approaches to online learning and you want to find the right for you. Some programs let students complete modules at their own pace and submit assignments according to that timeline. Other programs have structured synchronous class times in which students attend via Zoom. Another option is programs that take a hybrid approach. Some programs will ask students to take proctored exams. Others will focus mainly on projects and papers. You want to think about how much guidance and flexibility you want in a program. Do you work well keeping yourself on task and moving through one course in 4-6 weeks? Or would you prefer to go through a course in a 10-week quarter or 15-week semester? Start thinking about what appeals to you and works best for your schedule.
It Varies from Class to Class
Above all, it is important to note that online education is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Each class is different depending on the subject, materials needed, the professor, the size of the class, and how the students choose to engage. Science classes, for example, will likely offer more interactive components to mimic a lab environment. Across the board, you can expect to see assignments that utilize online tools such as videos and slideshows in place of traditional oral presentations. Some professors might ask students to use the “raise hand” feature on Zoom while others may ask that students contribute questions and comments in the chat box. In smaller classes, you might find students being more engaged and more likely to have their cameras off, while students might dissociate more in large lectures. At the end of the day, it depends on what kind of environment the instructor is trying to create.
Return to Campus
Finally, keep in mind that each school’s return to campus plan will be unique. Some schools have already decided that they will continue virtually through fall 2021. Others have announced that it is their goal to safely have students return to campus. Another option that some schools have pursued is to offer hybrid classes where students can choose to attend in person or virtually. If you are thinking about entering a program at a particular school, check their website for campus return details. Are they going to open up services on campus at the same time as classes? Will you be able to utilize study spaces, access food on campus, and use the wellness centers? What kind of safety precautions will they be taking? How are they prioritizing student health and safety and keeping the institution accountable? Does their plan make sense and fit your needs and comfort level? If not, Insuravita can certainly help connect you with similar programs at other schools that will!