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Online Learning Lessons That Should Stick After the Pandemic

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One of the many changes that COVID-19 brought about was a shift to online learning that happened almost right away. In this article, I wrote about “Online Learning Lessons That Should Stick After the Pandemic.”

Institutions worked hard all night to keep education going and close the gap between teacher and student.

Traditional teachers did a lot to adapt to the digital age. They recorded lessons, posted videos, and set up breakout rooms with whatever tools they had.

These projects led to physical classrooms that were connected to the internet and helped by technology, not to online education.

Even though these two choices look the same, they are not the same. Using technology to bridge physical distance doesn’t take into account the other changes that are needed to meet the needs of students.

Putting materials online and recording lectures and discussions is not enough to create a guided, collaborative, and supported learning environment.

So, what have we learned in general about online learning? So, what should we do now?

Online learning is not a new idea, and there are things we can learn from research and experience done in the past.

Athabasca University, where we all work as professors, was the first place in the world to offer online MBA, M.Nursing, and M.Ed programs. This was more than 28 years ago. It is now one of the most well-known online schools in Canada.

Online pioneers’ experience shows that four unique aspects of online learning should stick around after a pandemic. These are learning how to learn online, structuring online education with a goal in mind, integrating space and time online, and AI’s constant disruption.

Online Learning Lessons That Should Stick After the Pandemic

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1. Using the Internet to learn

The pandemic showed that one-size-fits-all approaches to education don’t meet students’ needs. Younger students can go outside of the classroom to meet new people as long as they are supervised and have something to do.

Others, like the mostly older students at Athabasca, like the freedom of being able to talk to classmates and teachers online whenever they want.

Online learning has problems like bad internet connections, not having enough money, and not being able to use technology well.

Online education, on the other hand, gives students who can’t go to traditional classrooms because of where they live access to education. Multi-modal distance education, financial support structures, and orientation to learning how to learn online also help address issues of inequality.

In emergency online education, the differences between students and programs were not taken into account. The response to the pandemic showed how important it is for all students, whether they are in a real classroom or online, to be ready to learn.

2. Planning online teaching with a goal in mind

Whether it’s in a classroom or online, a good way to teach and learn must give each student an active, interesting role.

Meaningful teaching depends on the setting and needs to be done in many different ways. Learner-centered, not content-driven, online courses and teaching design encourage active learning by putting a lot of focus on collaborative learning groups with a lot of student participation.

Making good online course materials takes months, not weeks, and requires instructors and professional course developers to work together.

The course materials are very thorough. Everything the teacher would say in a real classroom is written down, and there are links to readings, videos, and other internet resources for students.


Because of the epidemic, teachers had to switch from teaching in the classroom to teaching through technology. This worked for some, but it was hard to adapt to different students’ needs.

Along with online learning methods that improve active, collaborative, and learner-driven learning, technology tools and opportunities for both individual and group work should be brought back into the physical or hybrid classroom.

3. Online Mixing of Space and Time

Pandemic education made the words “synchronous” and “asynchronous” more well-known.

Asynchronous meant working alone, usually with materials made for a physical classroom, while synchronous meant simulating real classrooms through real-time, digitally-mediated education. We need to think about how time and place will affect learning in the future.

At Athabasca, students learn together in time and space through mixed, collaborative, synchronous, and asynchronous online learning. Instructors work one-on-one with students at their own pace.

In traditional undergraduate courses, where students are expected to learn on a set schedule, this is not the case.

Our graduate programs are self-paced, so students have to work on their own and take part in active online conversations on a regular basis.

When teachers are more flexible, students can get help from them when they need it. Instead of responding in real-time, synchronous, collaborative learning lets, you think about what you did.

4. COVID-19 caused the disruption to start, and AI will keep it going

As a result of the pandemic, teachers had to look for new ways to help students learn outside of the classroom. This showed how education practices might change.

We were able to start a co-op program at Athabasca even though there was a pandemic going on. This was made possible by a virtual co-op program.


No matter where they were, students could access a timed job simulation. While working on a project they were given, they got to practice working as a team, solving problems, resolving conflicts, making ethical decisions, and being leaders.

An AI coach gave students quick and detailed feedback, which gave them a lot of room to try things out and try again until they understood the concepts. This was done in a reflective conversation with the teacher.

Research shows that using online and AI tools require planning, a good digital infrastructure, and quick help for students.

When all of these steps are carefully planned and put into place, they make education more open, accessible, and inclusive than it was before.

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Aishwar Babber

Aishwar Babber is a passionate blogger and a digital marketer. He loves to talk and blog about the latest tech and gadgets, which motivates him to run GizmoBase. He is currently practicing his digital marketing, SEO, and SMO expertise as a full-time marketer on various projects. He is an active investor in AffiliateBay. You can find him on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook.

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