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Will online drive an international learning renaissance?

Face-to-face learning was the traditional, reliable mode of the past in the international education sector prior to Covid-19. But the remote learning imperative of 2020 and 2021 has challenged and fundamentally shifted thinking and practice, student expectations as well as the infrastructure and tools available.


Following the widespread exploration of online learning technologies, from basic recorded lectures to more advanced, interactive online classrooms, it may be that these emergency crisis responses will be replaced into the future with high quality online and blended learning for international students that combines pedagogy with technology.


What might that look like for international educators?


Opening windows on the world


Pure online learning models are now firmly in the realm of possibility for international educators (with the right regulatory framework to allow them to integrate this into the lifecycle). While there is no doubt that face-to-face learning will continue to be a critical component of the international student experience, the ubiquity of screens, available anywhere, will soon provide students with multiple windows on their education journey.


This could mean the expansion of everything from fully online micro-credentials to degree-length courses. Appealing to certain types of students, in particular situations or stages of learning, it would create growing cohorts of online students with learning lifecycles that will be managed remotely through advanced digital technologies.


Blended learning models would become ubiquitous in this scenario. While a significant disruption to the status quo for current cohorts, it will become an expected mode of delivery for future cohorts accustomed to digital learning. Deloitte found in the report Where to now? Blended futures. Higher education for a changed world that 77% of Australian postgrad students that studied during Covid-19 think digital learning tools provide an equal or better experience than face-to-face. Two thirds said they would be willing for more of their program to be delivered online.


At the very least, we can expect lecture and webinar-style learning to be consumed online, followed by in-person tutorials, workshops and seminars (with online participation and collaboration, depending on student location).


Online and blended learning also lends itself to the creation of many more bite-sized courses. International providers will be incentivised by demand to provide more learning that is broken down and undertaken in smaller chunks. Though there will be significant business challenges involved, the current global promotion and acceptance of shorter-form ‘just-in-time’ education will mean that while learning can be truncated, it can also be lifelong.


A more intelligent view


The capabilities built into today’s fast-growing universe of EdTech products and services will add increasing amounts of intelligence into learning management, further enhancing experiences in an online environment.


Adaptive capabilities aligned with the progress, interests and needs of individual students are one example. Powered by algorithmic intelligence, technology is increasingly enabling flipped classroom-inspired learning journeys through learning systems, where students forge their own path in a way that engages them and that allows educators to respond automatically to support success and engagement.


Social connection and collaboration will be facilitated in online as well as offline communities throughout the learning journey. Such a critical part of the international education experience, student connections with teachers and peers can be engineered and enhanced in virtual environments, so that learning happens organically through interaction in multiple venues in the virtual and real worlds.


The analytics and data insights available in learning and student management systems will boost educator performance, by increasingly allowing international providers to identify, understand and respond to the needs of individual students and cohorts. With powerful upsides for engagement and outcomes, the future will see technology better understood and utilised as a critical source of student intelligence.


Interested in learning more about how we help international education providers with student and learning management? Learn more here.