The great online experiment: How virtual learning is becoming the new normal

22 Jun 2020

COVID-19 has forced teachers, educators and training providers to pivot fast and offer their content online to a workforce and student community predominantly working from home. While the thought of virtual learning may not have been as appealing for some, this experiment has left us with some interesting lessons. As restrictions continue to ease and we slowly transition back into the office, we’re starting to realise that learning may never be the same again.

As universities prepare to welcome back some international students from Julywe can’t ignore the impact of coronavirus on the education sector. Australian universities face estimated revenue losses between $3.16 billion and $4.8 billion in 2020, according to Universities Australia modelling, due to loss of international student fees. Despite most institutions moving their courses online quickly, the sector is set to lose $16 billion by 2023. In facts this rapid shift may have caused significant challenges for uni students trying to adapt to a new way of learning. From blurred Zoom meetings, and lack of reliable internet connections, to issues around privacy and lack of experience teaching online – many students feel they’re not getting what they paid for.

For primary and secondary schools, the move to online classrooms was challenging for teachers, students and parents alike. A collective sigh of relief could almost be heard throughout the states where kids headed back to school in Term 2. But the exercise also highlighted a huge divide in Australia’s education system - a stark inequality that is now too obvious not to be remedied.

But not everyone found this enforced shift challenging. Much like universities, corporate training organisations were already on the path to online learning long before the pandemic. COVID-19 left them no choice but to shift their focus to delivering courses fully online. And according to Forbes, corporates will never look back. Organisations will not only save time, but also learn more efficiently and cost-effectively online. 

Virtual learning for marketers 

At ADMA, we realised early on the potential challenges and disconnect marketers may experience due to the pandemic. To support our members and the broader industry, we began our move to a fully online-based education system back in early March. 

By mid-March, we were offering a mix of face-to-face and virtual classes and by the end of the month all of our courses were 100% online.  

Through a mix of virtual technologies we offer students immersive online learning experiences. Our live broadcasts, video conferencing and live streaming events such as master classes enable opportunities for social engagement and collaboration. 

In April, we also launched our WFH Masterclass with Mark Ritson for over 1,000 marketers and professionals who enrolled. The online course covered all core topics of applied marketing and branding - helping managers navigate various challenges during and after the crisis with more confidence. 

But what do Australian marketers think of the shift?

We have received an overwhelmingly positive response to our online courses. Over 90% of IQ students said the course they took met their expectations and nearly all of them found great value in class discussions and group exercises. 

The education landscape in Australia (and around the world) will most likely never be the same again. In the ‘new normal’ marketers will have more opportunities to access online education, empowering them to keep learning, whenever and wherever it suits them. And in an environment riddled with change, easy access to education has never been more important.

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