Resilience & professional development during isolation
In this series of articles, our iiE members and network of associates provide friendly advice, guidance, and positivity to help you and your business through this difficult time of adaptation. Learna Ltd discusses focussing on your professional development online and its co-benefits for people and the environment.
Online learning benefits both the worker and the environment. People can access high quality training and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in a way that leaves them with time to devote to their families, jobs and other commitments, and in a way that is more environmentally-friendly.
In a matter of days, COVID-19 has forced organisations around the world to drastically change the way they operate. While the situation may seem dire, there has been a silver lining: the swift migration to homeworking has resulted in a rapid fall in CO2 emissions as millions of workers forgo their daily commute. New York alone has seen carbon monoxide, mainly from cars, reduced by nearly 50% compared with 2019.
A number of workers have also seen the benefit. Many have saved on the long commute to work, facilitating a better work-life balance but also providing the opportunity for training and professional development.
While we have seen that the places of learning (such as schools and universities) have closed, online learning has flourished. In fact, traditional residential courses are now having to be delivered online and even exams themselves can be taken online.
The benefits of online study
Learning online is a more environmentally-friendly route to education than residential courses. Undoubtedly it is more convenient for the learner being generally asynchronous and so able to deliver to an audience across multiple time zones.
Similarly, online learning can coalesce an enviable international teaching faculty that would otherwise not be able to be residential. Even so, current dogma still dictates that distance learning is inferior to campus-based learning.
The evidence dispels such a myth. A meta-analysis of studies on online learning authored by the US Department of Education reveals that online education, on average, is actually superior to campus-based courses.
Moreover, the environmental impact of online education is also noteworthy. Consider the resources used to deliver residential courses: the construction and maintenance of buildings/classrooms, together with emissions generated by commuting employees and students.
Many courses also publicise the fact that they are online when in fact they also require residential elements. Many of these students face significant international commutes to partake in these residential activities.
For example, the savings made for 1000 students with a 70:30 international:national split being required to attend just one residential course compared with the same truly online course, the total CO2 savings of the distance education programme would be 1.31 tonnes per student.
In 2017–18, there were 2.34 million students studying at UK higher education institutions. Think of how much energy would be saved if even a small percentage were to study online.
How does online learning work?
Some doubt the possibility of teaching certain subjects online – particularly those traditionally thought of as more “hands-on”.
We have also been able to respond swiftly to the COVID-19 outbreak by getting a much needed COVID-19 Pandemic CPD resource out to healthcare professionals virtually overnight so that we can improve healthcare professionals’ knowledge with rapidly emerging evidence and hence improve patient care.
So, how are we able to deliver our courses online?
- We use bespoke tools and software solutions to provide students with a means of accessing course materials, partaking in lectures, and communicating with students and tutors.
- Our online courses are taught through andragogic teaching. Pedagogical is dependent on the teacher whereas andragogic is dependent on the learner. It is self-directed and self-motivated, supported by an expert tutor. Furthermore, the learning style draws on real-life clinical/work-based scenarios with which the learner can easily identify. Students bring issues from their own work and share existing knowledge among one another instead of relying on pedagogical methods where a student relies entirely on a teacher for knowledge acquisition.
- Students can communicate with each other, and with tutors, using forum-based technology, or through team chat apps. Learning resources are available online, with no need to print.
- And there are no attendance based exams – end of block exams are all timed and delivered online.
The future of learning
Online learning benefits both the worker and the environment. People can access quality training and CPD in a way that leaves them with time to devote to their families, jobs and other commitments, and in a way that is more eco-friendly.