In March 2020, terms like “Zoom” and “Microsoft Teams” were not part of our everyday life. We lived a regular life to which we now refer as “old normal”. No one imagined that in just a few days, everything will be moved online. Classes would be organized via the Internet and will accept some completely new and not so popular forms of education. Is the education we acquired during the world pandemic of the same quality as before and what are the new forms of learning that have become widely accepted?
I remember the last week spent at university before this whole situation. It was a regular week, a new semester recently began, and attention was paid to new classes and professors. Everything was the same as previous years. The only difference was that a little more attention was paid to hygiene, the usual greeting was avoided when meeting with colleagues, and a few carried hand sanitizers. However, it all turned around very quickly, and over the weekend we learned that we would not return to university until further notice. Mix of feelings followed, such as shock, disbelief and overall concern.
Over the weekend, I learned that I needed to download certain software from the Internet, through which I would be able to follow the classes on Monday. I was sincerely concerned about the quality of teaching that would be held that way. However, now, after two semesters of following online classes, I can conclude that there are flaws, but I think that this type of education has exceeded my expectations.
Technology has allowed us to stay connected even in these uncertain times. Distance learning has been practiced for many years at universities worldwide, as well as at some regional universities. The quality of this way of learning has always been questioned. Students who opted for distance education saw a more economically efficient aspect while full-time employed students were satisfied with a more flexible curriculum. It used to be a matter of choice, but since last year it is not anymore. Although we are all awaiting the end of the global pandemic to return to our regular lives, it is useful to mention that the use of technology in education has made this process easier for everyone. Students and professors stayed connected, so they could use this opportunity to discuss and exchange opinions and views. The knowledge was checked by writing papers and doing short tests usually in the form of quizzes. The way to determine the credibility of the knowledge was to record the screen of the device through which the test was performed, as well as to use a camera while doing the test. In addition, time was a key factor, as the tests generally lasted so long that knowledge could be demonstrated immediately.
The time spent indoors, many used to gain knowledge in areas that are in high demand in the job market, which would make them competitive in the business world. The popularity of these online skills, theory and language courses reached its peak during 2020. The Internet platforms on which the courses are broadcasted provide an opportunity for interested individuals to take lectures taught by distinguished professors from world-known universities. The courses are mostly free of charge, and the ones that are not have reasonable pricing. There is also an option to take a final exam at the end of each course, in order to obtain a certificate of a/the successfully passed course.
Research has shown that the largest number of individuals attended courses in these five areas:
- Project management;
- Critical thinking and problem solving;
- Introductory to Excel;
- Introduction to the programming language – Phyton;
- Social media marketing.
Also, there were numerous online seminars on different topics, some of which were organized by the universities. By doing so, universities found a great way to promote their programs to prospective students through various seminars and video conferences where interested individuals would ask questions to faculty staff about their programs.
Some educational institutions have recognized a good opportunity for further educating their employees. Thus, a large number of teachers and professors took additional training. It is clear that all this will contribute to a higher quality of education, which keeps pace with world standards. This is extremely important because by implementing new knowledge, lecturers will be able to get closer to their students, which will increase their motivation for learning. The use of new curriculum and learning formats is important for this. The generations that are now entering schools live in a world where everything is a click away, so it is important that their teachers are technologically literate.
The world pandemic of the Covid-19 virus has changed our everyday lives. This time has shown us that we can rely on alternative ways of learning, as well as that technology can be used for a wide range of purposes. Tracking classes via the Internet has become widely accepted. Also, new ways of testing knowledge have been implemented. A large number of people have seen the importance of additional training, available through numerous online courses. We just have to wait and find out which forms of learning are yet to appear, and how the existing ones will be improved.