TIKVAH BREIMER / PROGRAM MANAGEMENT / CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT / ALONGSIDE ADVISORY
HOW BLENDED CAME BACK IN,
HOW WE WERE ALL CRASHED INTO REMOTE LEARNING,
AND HOW 'LIVE' WILL BE OPTIMIZED IN THE POST LOCKDOWN WORLD
I remember the first excitement about Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) when I was a lecturer/trainer myself at the IHS, the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies of Erasmus University, Rotterdam. The initial idea was to make education open for all, at very low cost, and at massive scale. It was quite the pioneering work at a few universities of excellence globally, how to make that cost-effective on the development side, and also how to ensure the quality of the learning, the certification, for an en masse offer of courses.

Surely, many teachers, trainers and lecturers, consultants, were quite hesitant, not only about putting their senior expertise out there, but also about the contact with the real human beings, the learners. I know I was. Also, the mass scale, was so foreign to my own interactive - live - teaching style, with 5-120 international student/professionals max. at any given time.

The sudden 2020 global lockdown crisis crashed everyone in the field of Education into having to offer it all fully online - teachers, trainers, lecturers, students, professionals, consultants. No one had an option out, and all had to start crash experimenting how to do this thing: remote learning.

Surely, apart from all the suffering due to the Pandemic and the Economic crisis that follows in its footsteps, this is an immensely interesting time in terms of learning from all that pioneering, frustration, inventiveness of teachers/trainers/lecuters/consultants. And equally, from the learners' experiences. I believe this is only just starting to come to the surface, with the first state of panic being over, but still in the uncertainty of just how much longer these lockdowns are going to take, well into 2021.

Not only teachers/trainers/experts - but learners too, were crashed online. They are forming their taste on what works for them, and not too. (And so to parents who were crashed into home schooling).

Without a shadow of a doubt, learning will not go back to being fully about live interaction, not even in the most exclusive cases (but that is wild guesswork) - unless you learn in a developing country perhaps.

The interesting question for the post lockdown world of education becomes, what is the optimum blend and what makes sense for the learning platforms? How does that balance out in terms of costs?


Teaching Lab, Technical University Delft, Delft, Randstad metropolitan area. One early morning close to the coast, summer 2020.

I really enjoy seeing just how responsive this TeachingLab team has been to the needs of lecturers. They are also collecting input from lecturers on best practice, and bundling their expertise and suggestions online: Remote teaching and learning support


Eventually, the quest is not even only about what goes online, static or interactive. It is also about what 'live' learning will look like, now that it has become so exclusive and many have found their new natural rhytmns with remote learning/working across the globe. And clients are making their budget trade-offs, possibly with twinkling eyes but with potential tension with teachers/trainers.

Whatever the outcome of these questions, tt makes sense to keep a learning platform as light and simple as possible.

To illustrate, from my experience as a project lead working with professionals on the ground in Africa, in terms of equipment, technology, and connectivity, remote working is still very cumbersome. Several of our program managers, in 2021, had to regularly check in to hotels to have strong enough wifi for our meeting.

Another illustration, is that learners from Africa, Latin America and Asia, typically may have significant inequalities between them in terms of access to devices.

These aspects, coupled with a passion to bridge inequality, and make learning accessible to all, must be part of the exploration too, and relates to my added value. It is relevant to me, because it is also relevant to clients I work with, such as trainers of professionals in-country.

It seems that the future (post 2021+) of learning and collaboration, innovation, acculturation and dedication is blended (e.g. includes face to face) - leveraged by virtual interaction and learning.

This impacts budgets too, as live interaction becomes a precious opportunity. What can really not be replaced by live interaction? And: what would make this live interaction optimal? See for instance Harvard Business Review.

At the end of the day, it is impossible to make trade-offs in your choices for a learning platform without knowing and understanding the cost implications. Which is why, I can think alongside you, and offer budget options.
What is the way forward in terms of budgets for blended learning? The wild-card optimum? The bare minimum?


Stay tuned...


REFERENCES

Harvard Business Review (HBR) 2021, When do we really need face to face interactions? Harvard Business Review