A recent article in the Harvard Business Review – “The Pandemic Pushed Universities Online. The Change Was Long Overdue.” – suggests that an already stressed traditional higher-ed model is sure to be even more quickly supplanted by online education due to COVID. While it is true that COVID has disrupted all levels of education in many ways, the response by traditional-age students regarding having to go online this semester has been telling. Students have been quite vocal about their distaste for 100% online courses. And institutions want to keep offering the traditional experience for many reasons. In order to build a lasting relationship with students, an in-person experience is the best. Face to face students build an affinity with the campus and its culture that translates into future donations and brand building. But what the pandemic has done is force all resistant faculty to finally learn how to use the technology that has been available in higher-ed for years. It is about time. So while face to face experiences are not going away, at least colleges will be able to provide a much better experience to students by properly and smartly applying technology to the learning experience.
So is there any benefit to the online education industry caused by COVID? Yes. There will be more non-traditional learners who will decide that they might as well enroll in a fully online degree just in case there is another incident that causes campuses to close. They may have learned recently that nonprofit colleges are actually pretty good at delivering online degrees already. There is no need to consider a face to face experience. It really is okay to enjoy the flexible experience. And it is also just as good as face to face.
Read the rest of the article in the Harvard Business Review here.