The old barriers to digital learning are gone but new ones have replaced them

In the past, the two most significant barriers to the mainstream adoption of digital learning in Higher education has been the willingness of academics to invest the time and risk their outcomes on an alternative method of delivery that has been seen as inferior, and good enough quality infrastructure to support such adoption.

The current pandemic with government-enforced lockdowns and social distancing has removed both these barriers. Academics have risen to the challenge of giving up what they know to work and go all-in with to them is untested and unexplored digital learning. Technology companies have drastically moved the tools they provide significantly to make teaching online easier and learning online more accessible.

As Learning Designer we have had three main jobs; to make quality standards clear and easy to follow, to knit technologies together into an easy to use ecosystem, and provide the support and training to academics to deliver their subject narrative and assessment strategies in a new and engaging way.

Initial feedback from students across the Higher Education sector has shown that many universities are going some way to meeting the challenge presented to us by the global pandemic, but three large tasks remain:

  1. How do we add more structure to students learning while the rules on what they are allowed to do continue to change?
  2. How do we keep the elements of connection in the university experiences and help students avoid loneliness?
  3. How do we provide learning environments when most traditional areas to study are unsuitable?

I believe that these three barriers are critical to addressing to make sure students return after the Christmas break and are thriving this academic year.

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