Learning Through Remote Teaching: Opportunities and Challenges for Professional Education

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced professional educators to move teaching and evaluation online on technology platforms like Zoom, Google Meet and Moodle. The bigger question is can remote teaching achieve the desired level of learning as compared to in-campus face-to-face teaching? A few years a back analysists predicted that remote teaching through the massive open online courses (MOOCs) would greatly reduce demand for formal face-to-face courses in class. However, MOOCs have largely remained top-up courses for students and working professionals.  Remote teaching is here to stay to some extent at least. While it may be premature make any judgement, it is worth exploring the opportunities, challenges and the way forward.

Key opportunities: Students come with different learning styles, requiring different approaches to teaching. In a face-to-face teaching setting, it may not be possible for the instructor in a physical class setting to group students by learning-style and customize teaching aligning to students’ learning style. Remote teaching can provide the necessary flexibility and pace for the students to choose content and sequence aligned to their learning styles. Most of the face-to-face teaching take place at conventional time slots in the day, which may not align to the body clock of the students. Remote teaching can offer opportunity for the students to attend teaching sessions from convenient place and at convenient time. There can be opportunity to use best of the instructors, content and delivery mechanism benefiting from economies of scale and scope.

Key challenges: First, recognition of the potential of remote teaching to achieve desired levels of learning and be part of the mainstream teaching methods as opposed being source of top-up courses. The second challenge is possible absence of a robust and reliable measurement system to assess the learning level for both knowledge and skills. If levels of learning reflect through a robust and reliable measurement system, educators, students and recruiters can better appreciate the value of remote teaching. The third challenge is the quality of content and delivery mechanism. In an enthusiasm to go online fast, there could be question marks on quality and relevance of the content and assessments tasks.

The way forward: The journey to remote teaching has just begun. A lot of inconsistency and deficiencies can be captured from the current experience and the educators can work closely with the required compliments like technology and content providers to overcome the inconsistency and deficiencies. Remote teaching can take teaching closer to the learner and greatly improve the learning level in the society. With higher levels of learning, we could witness a higher-level sustainable economic activities and higher level of wellbeing in the society.

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    The challenges written are very apt. If they are solved, then remote teaching would do wonders pertaining to the fact that the opportunities it has, are something that will be beneficial in this trend.

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