5 Higher Education Challenges Created by COVID-19

In the face of the unexpected switch to remote learning, teachers and students have both faced challenges academically, technologically, and mentally.

 

Key Takeaways:

  • There’s less student engagement in a remote classroom.
  • Less hands-on skills practiced in an online learning setting.
  • The well-being of students and teachers is harder to maintain.
  • Technology needs to improve to ensure quality learning. 
  • Teaching methods need to be reimagined because of the shift to online learning. 

Because of COVID-19, many higher education institutions had to move to either complete remote learning or partially online classes. This presented a number of challenges and left institutions scrambling to think of solutions to enable fully online learning. 

 

Aside from the learning challenges and lack of accountability, students and teachers have also faced the mental toll of working from home during a health pandemic. Combined with a lack of direct interaction, that has created its own set of challenges.

 

Here are five of the biggest challenges higher ed has faced during the pandemic, and how your institution can overcome them.

 

 

1. Student and teacher engagement

 

While online learning is not completely new, remote learning is not a fit for everyone and creates challenges for students who need extra help and support. Even those who do not need the extra support face challenges communicating with their teachers and vice versa in the remote classroom setting. Going from daily face-to-face learning to completely remote classrooms can also cause stress and depression, especially for students who struggle to learn. 

 

Student engagement in a remote learning setting can be increased with the proper technology. Your platform must ensure the accessibility of class resources and interaction with the professor and other students. Making resources accessible creates the space for students to ask the right questions and get on the right track to productive learning. 

 

2. Providing the tools for a quality online learning environment 

 

Making a shift from in-person classes to online poses the challenge of using quality software and technology to conduct online learning. Not all students have the luxury of high-speed internet or computers at home. In a time when technology is constantly advancing and updating, higher education institutions need a variety of online systems to conduct classes and manage their coursework. 

 

Research has shown that students in fully online programs can have a lower success rate than those in a physical classroom setting. Online learning can make accountability harder to establish and leave students struggling to keep up. Choosing the right content management system helps with this problem by organizing content in an easily accessible way. 

 

3. Re-imagining teaching for the all-online environment 

 

Online learning takes a lot of creativity and effort to make lessons effective for students who struggle in the virtual environment. From lack of accountability to more distractions, it’s not hard to see where students may struggle to learn with school moved fully online, especially if they’re not supported by the right digital platforms. Some teachers have only taught in-person classes and the transition to teaching online is a huge learning curve for them. 

 

To recreate the physical classroom for a Zoom class, teachers must make the most of the class time by educating themselves about how to use the technology and making sure they have the proper equipment to keep class time going smoothly. 

 

4. Recreating hands-on activities and skills 

 

Part of a classroom experience means doing hands-on projects, activities, and group work that cannot be done the same way remotely. Even with the advanced technology we have today, there’s a uniqueness to being in a physical location doing experiments together in lab. This poses a challenge but also allows for an opportunity to get creative with learning, especially for different learning styles. 

 

One way to supplement learning is to have online resources available and in a central location. Teachers should make it clear where students can go to receive extra help and make sure instructions for assignments are very clear. Even though technology creates a barrier in some ways, it can open the door to new ways of teaching that can also be fun and effective. Online surveys to help teachers improve their teaching methods can greatly increase student retention and learning — every classroom is different, and students typically know how they learn best. 

 

5. Supporting the well-being of students and teachers 

 

With everyone stuck at home due to the pandemic, students and teachers face new problems taking care of their personal well-being. The lack of boundaries between school and home life, as well as constant worry about their health and safety, are significant sources of stress. 

 

If the circumstances were different, the well-being of students and teachers moving to online learning might not be under so much stress. However, because of the health crisis, stress has increased in students and signs of post-traumatic stress disorder are appearing. There is a correlation between the wellness of a student and their success in school, so student well-being needs to be prioritized and taken seriously in the classroom. 

 

Distinguishing between school and home life is important for having a healthy balance between the two. Providing extra support for students to make their coursework accessible and clearly setting expectations will help with their success immensely. Even though people are stuck at home, the transition to online learning and class sessions can make their life smoother with working technology and reliable software. 

 

KWALL can help

We help build digital platforms that help support the learning and well-being of your students, and the well-being of your staff as well. KWALL specializes in helping colleges and universities increase student engagement through the quality of their websites. Reach out and contact KWALL today to talk about how we can help you.