Three Years On From The Pandemic, How Distance Learning Has Changed How We Live And Learn I Oxford Open Learning
Distance Learning

Three Years On From The Pandemic, How Distance Learning Has Changed How We Live And Learn

March 11th, 2023 marks three years since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Covid-19 a pandemic.

The world is still grappling with a new way of living. One of the most remarkable changes is the shift in how people live and learn, thanks mainly to the increases in distance learning and remote working. In 2022, the number of students who prefer online learning had increased by 220%. And as of February 2022, 42% of people said they had adopted a hybrid working pattern – working from home most of the time and sometimes attending their usual place of work.

What Is Distance Learning?

Distance learning occurs outside a traditional classroom setting, including e-learning and online learning. One of the most significant changes to the learning landscape is that it is now possible to access a wealth of educational content anytime and anywhere. Many distance learning platforms offer video-based classes, lectures, and e-books to supplement or replace traditional classroom learning.

The Benefits Of Distance Learning

Distance learning has revolutionised how people learn by offering students greater flexibility, work-life balance, and control over their education and futures. Commitments such as being a carer for a disabled or elderly adult, looking after children, or even sleep disturbances can hinder education and work. But distance-learning and remote working can help accommodate life’s difficult circumstances. Its flexibility can also be invaluable to those with physical disabilities, neurodiverse conditions, and mental health problems.

A great example of an online learning tool that might work well for those interested in learning languages is Lingoda. It operates 24/7, and is a great tool to help you learn anytime. Although it’s a paid service, if you complete a ‘sprint challenge’ (30 lessons in 2 months) you’ll receive 50% cash back. If you complete a super-sprint challenge (60 lessons in two months) you’ll get 100% cashback. Now that’s some serious motivation!

How Have Organisations Adapted To Accommodate Hybrid Working And Learning?

The pandemic and evolving technologies

One of the most significant technological developments has been the growth of cloud computing. Cloud computing refers to how an organisation or person’s information is stored, allowing remote access through the internet. Everything from WhatsApp to Google Photos is an example of cloud computing.

Blackboard Learn uses cloud technologies to deliver interactive and immersive experiences for students and teachers. The cloud has also empowered organisations to store large amounts of data and video without physical storage or equipment.

Another significant advancement has been the growth of video conferencing software, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet. These tools have provided:

An effective platform for virtual classes and meetings.
The ability of teachers and instructors to deliver lectures to students.
Teachers and students to interact in real-time, as in a physical classroom.

The Disruptive Impact Of The Pandemic On Everyday Life

Despite all the positive changes in work and learning that the pandemic has encouraged, it’s not all good news.

Although working from home may provide more flexibility and convenience, it vastly differs from a traditional office environment, leaving many employees struggling with isolation, loneliness, and social interaction. Remote work often blurs the boundaries between personal and professional time, giving some workers unprecedented stress due to a never-ending workload.

The economic dislocation caused by the pandemic has also been far-reaching, resulting in millions of people losing their jobs or facing reduced wages. This has negatively impacted many households, damaging their ability to pay their bills and support themselves or their families.

Overcoming Challenges

Perhaps the best way to address these challenges is to integrate increased social interaction and support systems into remote work and education. Although nothing can replicate face-to-face interaction, initiatives like online book groups or social clubs, where you can have fun and engaging discussions with colleagues or fellow students outside the working environment, could be beneficial.

There’s no absolute answer to overcoming these challenges. All we can continue to do is try and find a balance that helps students and employees feel fulfilled in their work and lives.

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Jessica is a freelance copywriter and content writer based in Richmond-Upon-Thames. With a degree in English Literature from University College London, she has experience as a private tutor for 14-18 years olds and adult learners. She has also worked in Widening Participation as a Mentor, Student Ambassador, and Student Leader. As someone who achieved A-Levels through distance-learning, Jessica has first-hand experience of the unique challenges and rewards that distance-learning offers. She regularly contributes content to educational websites including eNotes and Tutorful.

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