By Majid Mneymneh – Vice President, Higher Education Pearson Middle East
It has been two full years that the global pandemic has presented its trials and tribulations to the whole world and especially for the education sector. Millions of students made the biggest adjustment in the history of instructional delivery i.e., the migration from physical classrooms to online ones in a very short term.
While education boards and leaders focused on getting students back to a pre-pandemic level of education, it’s equally important for universities and faculty to see the moment for what it is – a seismic shift within higher education. During this course, technology has made a significant impact and has proved to be a useful asset and has transformed the pedagogical tools.
By now we are fully aware that higher education is unlikely to fully return to pre–Covid-19 course delivery models. Millions of students have now experienced the intensive integration of technology such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) into their courses, and this has likely reset their expectations for the future. Technology adoption has increased substantially across K12, Higher education and has helped make learning more adaptable, accessible, and interactive.
The 2021 Global Learner Survey by Pearson suggests that the pandemic is forging a stronger generation of young people. With 90% of the people believing Internet access to be a basic human right, it shows that Digital is here to stay, and the future of Education will be driven by new and innovative technologies.
The 2021 Global Learner Survey by Pearson suggests that the pandemic is forging a stronger generation of young people
Digital Course Material
In the last two years, we have witnessed education technology growing at an exponential pace, but it is yet to develop and grow at a pace that is expected by the students. One of the reasons for the growth in digital text is the convenience of accessibility. With Gen Z now moving into universities and being the digital natives, there is a clear shift being seen towards the preference for e-texts. The ability to search quickly through many pages of texts for a quote, concept or idea is much more efficient with digital technology than with a physical textbook, which implies digital texts are the pinnacle of future research methods.
Videos, simulations, quizzes, and built-in homework assignments make these products an attractive option for faculty and students alike, allowing teachers to be flexible in offering their learning schedule and accommodate different styles of learning.
A lot of corporations are not confident in the skills young graduates bring with them when they enter the workforce. A previously published Bloomberg Next report revealed that only 35% of employers feel confident that new recruits are well prepared with hard technical skills and ‘soft skills’ such as complex problem-solving and analytical reasoning.
As demand-driven learning gains momentum, corporations will begin to see the benefit in collaborating with higher education institutions to ensure the future workforce has the right set of skills the company is seeking for. On one hand, such partnerships will prove to be extremely beneficial in preparing young graduates for employment and to reskill/upskill individuals already in the workforce, while on the other hand increasing the number of graduates with refined digital skills and helping companies with the right talent acquisition for growth and success. In fact, it would be critical to have these right partnerships in place; otherwise it may create a risk of corporates coming up with their own courses and degrees to ensure that candidates have the right skills.
As demand-driven learning gains momentum, corporations will begin to see the benefit in collaborating with higher education institutions
Mid-career professionals are finding it harder than ever to secure roles and hence they are taking charge of their own future and investing in upskilling to stay industry-relevant. According to Pearson’s Global Learner Survey 2020, more than 50% of the respondents said there is a palpable urgency to build skills for employment, which includes a new breed of digital soft skills as well as an emphasis on English language skills. A study by Generation pointed out that almost three-quarters (73%) of career changers aged 45+ said that training and upskilling helped them secure new roles.
Often cost-effective, short courses have proven to be the best bet to address a knowledge gap, help in a competitive job market when applying for a new job or promotion, provide valuable networking opportunities, help uncover your career interests or hobbies and, importantly, foster confidence.
Investing in upskilling for employees also makes better business sense as it helps build various competitive advantages, from retaining organisational expertise, ensuring continuity of service and operations. Also, in some cases, online short courses can be used by other universities to complete their offering or to have a joint course with more reputable universities.
According to a 2020 EDUCAUSE poll, half of institutions (54%) are currently using online or remote proctoring services
Adoption of Online Proctored Examinations
Driven by the proliferation of online learning and by institutional use of remote and blended forms of teaching and learning, education institutions continue their shift to online exam administration and remote proctoring has turned out to be a critical element. According to a 2020 EDUCAUSE poll, half of institutions (54%) are currently using online or remote proctoring services, and another 23% are planning or considering using them. The global market size for proctored exams is estimated to increase to a whopping $1,068 million by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 20.80%.
More and more colleges, universities, and educational bodies will adopt online exams in their quest to become resilient, flexible, convenient and accessible in their education and examination processes. The industry is ready and, on the way, to identify and embrace long-term solutions and not some stopgap answer, to the challenge of crises disrupting the education continuity.
Pearson’s MyLab and Mastering programmes provide actionable insight based on class and student performance and ensure integrity and academic honesty in distance education.
It is clear that the technology intervention in the education industry is completely transforming the sector in terms of teaching and learning. While learning has become more accessible and convenient, teaching methods need to be more innovative and student-centred.
It is extremely important for governments, business leaders and educationalists to understand the changes that are being brought into the workforce and collaborate to introduce the skills needed to prepare the students for the future of work. Are we as education providers ready to equip students with the right information and tools to embrace the change?