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Providing digital learning support throughout the pandemic

In our latest blog, Mark Newton, Managing Director at CoSector - University of London, talks about some of the key themes and challenges that higher and further education have faced over the past year, and how the digital learning team has supported them during these times.

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The pandemic has prompted and accelerated a fundamental change to a more hybrid way of working.

It’s become clear that the biggest challenge many universities and colleges have faced over the past 12 months is flipping to remote online learning almost overnight, with no time to prepare.

The amount of work needed to enable online capabilities and virtual learning has varied from organisation to organisation and has also depended on their level of digital maturity. Some institutions already had the infrastructure in place to fully implement campus-wide online learning, whereas others were in the early stages of adopting this.

An agile approach to solving pain points

To support the shift in online learning and digital capabilities, we’ve reacted accordingly to deliver better services for our customers. We’ve seen an acceleration in educators moving to the cloud to increase capacity and resilience. To support this, we’ve brought plans and project delivery times forward to allow this to happen at scale and much quicker than planned.

Another key element to support the transition has been successfully maintaining each of our customer’s VLEs and keep the systems running during the influx of both staff and students accessing the environment at the same time.

On top of this, we’ve also faced the same challenge of transitioning to a virtual working model in a matter of hours. We’ve been able to seamlessly manage both customer systems and our own, without any interruptions or outages, prioritising customer issues and allowing them to support their cohort of staff and students.

The future of learning in a post-pandemic world

What we’ve seen from working closely with our customers is that the pandemic has prompted and accelerated a fundamental change to a more hybrid way of working. We don’t anticipate the learning experience will resume to the same levels of in-person teaching that we saw pre-pandemic, but for the blend between virtual and face-to-face to become more equal to what it is now.

The need for students to be able to work from anywhere and have access to the right tools, technology and to collaborate effectively will still be vital, but the days of hundreds of students sat inside lecture theatres are likely to be behind us.

Instead of this, small focussed study groups will take precedent with an academic leading the conversation. This will allow a better experience for students and also give an opportunity for the academic to provide support around online learning should any questions arise. This will also allow universities and colleges to better utilise their space across campus.

A number of these small focussed groups can take place using the same room space previously used for lectures. This allows for a more functional way of learning as the lectures can still continue either by pre-recording and uploading to the VLE or live streamed online for participants to join and engage.

It’s been a busy and challenging past 12 months for the higher and further education sectors, but being able to support our customers through their digital learning journeys has been incredibly awarding.

We look forward to continue working with all of our customers in the coming months and for those that would like advice and support, please get in touch now.

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